Teaching KS3 History: Medieval
The following Key Stage 3 history lessons for teaching Medieval Britain have all been judged to be outstanding according to OFSTED
criteria. You will find a wide variety of teaching and learning activities
and full lesson plans as well as a rich array of teaching resources
including PowerPoint® presentations.
>>ADDED September 2013 Smart Task: How far did life really change
when William the Conqueror became king after the Battle of Hastings?
KS3 Outstanding History Lessons
- Daggers, money bags,
clay pipes, scrolls, and torn up maps of France: putting King John on trial
using a range of exhibits. Active, well differentiated, lesson in which
pupils put King John on trial using not only medieval chronicles and modern
historians' accounts but also a range of artefacts to bring the subject
- If Henry and Becket
were such good friends why did Henry have him killed less than 10 years
later? This very active thinking skills lesson comprises three separate
episodes. Firstly having listened to a brief teacher-told narrative, pupils
have to sort events into the right sequence before going on to create their
own living graph. This is followed by a history mystery in which pupils
attempt their own explanation of this medieval puzzle. Finally, students
predict what the explanation on a short video of the death of Becket should
contain before going on to formally evaluate and then improve it.
- Was the Black Death a disaster for everyone?
Pupils work in groups to predict, research and then refine their thinking
about ten separate consequences of the Black Death.
If life for medieval peasants was generally
improving, why then did John Cole join the Peasants' revolt of 1381?
A thinking skills activity.
- ADDED SEPTEMBER 2013:
How far did
life really change when William the Conqueror became king after the
Battle of Hastings? Pupils have to design a set of stamps to show
the 5 biggest changes introduced by William the Conqueror after
Hastings, but first they need to place ideas on a spectrum ranging from
massive change, through little change to continuity.
- ADDED JANUARY 2013:
How significant is Magna Carta?
Pupils are asked to present two brief podcasts for the British Library
website the first to explain why Magna Carta is significant, the second
to argue that its importance has been over-estimated. Resources are
provided to help pupils prepare for this task, PowerPoint presentation
and sheet of cards for pupils to sort.
Want to know what's coming next? Click here to
Teaching Medieval Britain to Key Stage 3
A wide range of lessons are showcased here because the medieval
period is highly popular and has retained its statutory position
in the KS3 2008 revisions. All lessons have full resources to
download. As many of you will have been teaching aspects of medieval
British history for quite some time, I have deliberately avoided the
more orthodox approaches. Instead, each lesson has a unique
feature. What you won't find are numerous lessons on the Battle of
Hastings as this is already covered in great detail, arguably too much
detail, in many schools.
The first Peasants' Revolt lesson features a history
mystery and living graph. The lesson on Becket coming soon asks pupils to
unravel two muddled accounts to produce just one of their own. The
death of Harold is dealt with using a reconstruction relay followed by a
comparison of different historical interpretations. Using the
gallery technique (see 100
great teaching approaches) to explore the central features of
pupils try to write a 'beat the textbook' website entry.
The study of the Black
Death focuses on consequences whereas pupils' understanding of causes is
promoted through one of the lessons on the Peasants' revolt. Another
lesson focuses on the death of Wat Tyler in which pupils use the 'What happened
next?' approach to creating their own narrative from the sources.
The lessons on the Black Death and on 'What happened to Wat Tyler' will
feature on the site shortly.
To support schools looking for an interesting
approach to teaching the British Isles there will be a lesson in which pupils take on the role of one
of the countries and track relationships with England in a fun
competitive way. King John and Magna Carta feature strongly to reflect
the new emphasis on citizenship, rights and responsibilities.
Approach to teaching castles via new
KS3 Teaching Approaches section
>Other useful sources of
inspiration for outstanding lessons are thin on the ground. One you will know about is
Ian Dawson’s excellent site. The other, a relatively new kid on the block,
is the History
Resource Cupboard, created by two teachers who worked very closely with
me for a number of years. I know the ideas come from a good stable. Neil
and Richard are both outstanding teachers so it is well worth looking at
what they have on offer, some of which is free.
>1066 Norman Conquest Game from
Battle of Hastings: Try the animated BBC
decision-making game in which you can play Harold or William. You read
a short piece of text and then choose an option. Much the same as many
other games like it. The great thing about this game is that the
figures on the screen move in response to your decision. So you can
actually see the retreating forces move and the cavalry charge. See
BBC site: History in Depth, Battle of Hastings game.
If you need information about the chronology of the
medieval period then you may find the following link useful
In addition to a detailed list of events, it also features 3D Tours of
digitally reconstructed castles etc.
- Why is it so difficult to work out what happened to Wat Tyler at
- Why do people across the world make such a fuss about an old
document, Magna Carta, written 800 years ago?
- How can we work out what really happened to Becket?
- NOTE FOR SUBSCRIBERS ONLY If you would like to preview any of the draft materials, then simply email us and we will send you a
number of the key activities and resources.
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Change or continuity?
A fascinating study of Doom
paintings. Pupils study a range of images and then try to summarise the key
points for a Wikipedia entry.
King John, A Key Stage 3
investigation into Medieval Monarchy: Dale Banham & Ian Dawson 2000, reproduced
with kind permission Hodder Education
Slide from Powerpoint. Pupils see how the Peasants' Revolt hots up. But what caused it to boil
Pupils work out what actually happened in Canterbury Cathedral in 1170,
by unravelling muddled accounts and comparing contradictory visual sources
History mystery Why did John Cole join the Peasants' Revolt? leads to a
Living Graph giving an overview of the changing fortunes of villeins 1300 to
Channel 4's Norman Conquest Game