Key stage 3 History

keystage 3 teaching
Welcome to the Key Stage 3 section of the site. This offers a full and comprehensive source of good advice that should be seen as a form of ‘virtual adviser’. The issues I focus on mainly are those that preoccupy history teachers in 2014. High on the agenda is the need to sort out a clear rationale for the new 2014 KS3 curriculum . Plenty of advice, and examples of what other schools are doing, are given to set you thinking.If we look beyond the curriculum you will find expert advice on the tricky issue of progression and the problematic one of assessment.

In both cases you are given access to a clear and coherent alternative to the current obsession with now defunct National Curriculum Level Descriptions and their dubious sub-level cousins. For those seeking an alternative to long over-prepared assessments that take ages to do (and to mark!), there is a coherent package of diagnostic assessments for you to consider. For each task there is a very thoughtful markscheme, examples of pupils’ work and even a commentary which enables you to compare with your own pupils’ work.

Many of you reading this will be subject leaders. You are well-catered for especially in the area of monitoring. You are given shrewd advice on classroom observation, feeding back to colleagues, carrying out pupil interviews and how to conduct an effective work scrutiny. When there is just so much to do when leading a history team, you will be grateful for the excellent advice on prioritisation and forward planning – advice that really works.

For those of you simply seeking inspiration for your own teaching, you will be excited to find that the teaching approaches section contains 100 great teaching ideas, all of which have been developed, tried and tested in successful history departments. On the key issues of enquiry, chronology, and the retention of interpretations, you will find expert advice and inspiring examples.

You will all certainly want to visit the outstanding lessons section. All these lessons have been validated by an experienced (65 OFSTED history inspections) and highly successful Local Authority history inspector/adviser who has seen history teaching at its best. The good ideas here become great ones when you use them and pass them on!!

Great starter on interpretations of Henry VIII

Working closely with academic authors, in this case Catherine Fletcher, always gives a fascinating insight into what historians want to write and publishers want to sell.  This is fertile ground for exploring the question of interpretations with pupils at KS2 and KS3. With this simple...
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Castle design. Would I lie to you? Fun smart task

This enjoyable session has serious intent: to question some careless assumptions about castle building that often creep into Y7 teaching about castles. The idea is that pupils start to seriously question just how quickly and dramatically things really did change. It works like this. 5 teams...
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Market place: Why I didn’t oppose Hitler.

To help pupils to understand why so few people opposed Hitler in the 1930s the use of this market place activity has proved to be really effective. Give every student a different role card and ask them to talk to every other member in the...
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Teaching historical significance at Key Stage 3

When there is so much history to study how do students know what is significant? Is everything on the National Curriculum significant? If not why is it there? Are there significant events that are not taught in schools, when other less significant events are? In...
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Cromwell a reputation deserved. KS3 Smart Task

This short task focuses on an entry from a website used by lots of people today, mainly in Ireland, to find out about Cromwell’s time there. Pupils are asked to assess whether it is a reliable interpretation of Cromwell’s behaviour in Ireland in the early 1650s....
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Early Modern Britain 1500-1750 Smart Task: Editor’s Pencil

A quick overview activity in which pupils have to spot and correct 20 deliberate mistakes. Pupils are given an activity with a summary of the changes that took place in Britain between 1500 and 1750. Unfortunately, the person who wrote it is bad at history. Using their...
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Which modern Olympic Games am I? Short KS3 Smart Task

This engaging smart task on the Olympics in the 20th century focuses pupils’ attention on significant individual games as a prelude to drawing out weightier themes. Worksheet and answers in resources section below. A full lesson on What do the Olympic Games tell us about...
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Teaching history using the Olympic Games KS2 and KS3

We thought we would offer you a range of different cameos showing how the history of the Olympics could be imaginatively integrated into your current teaching.

The teaching activities below have all be tried and tested in schools and have been judged outstanding by...

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Fit for purpose teaching Strategies at Key Stage 3

Personalising learning by establishing what students already know about a topic, before beginning teaching. Case study: Comparing students’ initial perceptions with their end-of-study study views of the First World War To build effectively on what students bring to the classroom, it is always useful to start a...
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What made runaway slaves successful?

This short enquiry enables pupils to come up with their own ideas about runaway slaves working from first hand evidence of adverts for the slaves ‘ arrest'. They work in pairs to come up with possible reasons why some slaves were caught and not others...
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Rosa Parks – the true story

This open-ended enquiry explores one of the most abiding stories of American Civil Rights. Students are invited to advise a film director on what actually happened in Montgomery in December 1955.  They are introduced to the standard, simplified, textbook version that all young Americans are...
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Smart Tasks: End of Empire: Why did it all end so quickly?

This SMART task ask pupils to classify a number of different smaller reasons why The Empire declined and fell, under four bigger headings.  But they are not told what these headings are.  This they must work out for themselves.  In searching for their own method...
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What should we write on Robespierre’s plaque?

In his home town of Arras, the plaque commemorating his achievements has been vandalised and replaced so often that it is clear that people still feel strongly about him. Can pupils create a plaque of their own using just 100 words which would give a...
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Execution of Louis XVI

Enquiry question: When the French Revolution started in 1789, few wanted the death of the king or the end of monarchy. But just 4 years later the king’s head has been chopped off. Why? This lesson was taught to a mixed-ability class of 19 which contained...
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Smart Task: Evacuation: was it worth it?

Many primary schools look in detail at evacuation in World War Two and you may not want to go over old ground again but there is nothing to stop you taking student’s understanding to a deeper level. In addition, to looking at contrasting interpretations and...
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Smart Task: Was the bombing of Dresden justified?

Should the statue to Bomber Harris be removed?

It is now 20 years since the statue to Bomber Harris was erected in Trafalgar Square. Pupils are asked to consider whether it ought to be removed in light of what happened at Dresden. There are...

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Spinning Dunkirk

Rather than simply asking pupils passively to read examples of propaganda surrounding the evacuation of Dunkirk they are asked to put a positive spin on it for themselves. Having been told the harsh realities of what happened, they have to work in groups as the...
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Why did 15 year-old boys want to join up in 1914?

At the heart of this lesson lies a history mystery. Many of you will have seen something similar in Peter Fisher's book on thinking skills in history. Whilst the core activity remains the same, the refinements added here make so much difference. For here we...
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Progression in history – looking at specific strands

In this highly-rated post , with really important attachments,we show how it is even more important , in this post-levels world of 2016, to get a really strong grasp of progression in all the  main concepts. In the general section on progression, the point was...
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Assessment for learning in history at Key Stage 3

I have tried to be careful here not to reproduce the mass of material that has been provided by the DCSF as part of the National Strategy and the excellent work of Black and Wiliam in their various publications on the Black Box theme. So...
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Forward planning in history at Key Stage 3

There are probably four separate strands that you need to weave into your forward planning.  To start with there will be the need to plan for any externally imposed curriculum change.  The introduction of the new National Curriculum for history from September 2014 and new...
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Using data in history at Key Stage 3

NB This section of the site is under development in Spring 2016 as we wait for best practice post-levels assessment to emerge. There are a number of encouraging systems but most are home-grown and don't necessarily travel well to other schools where the culture might...
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Literacy and history at Key Stage 3

Since 2012 there has been a much stronger emphasis in lesson observations on how well particular groups of pupils achieve. Also, with the sharper focus on reporting what makes teaching effective in improving learning, it will be necessary for inspectors to record in evidence forms...
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Rationale for the Key Stage 3 history curriculum

Well it could have been worse! Anyone who saw the egregious draft history curriculum of February 2013 will realise what a relief the final version published in September 2013 turned out to be. Gove lost the battle to increase prescription and for all topics to...
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Teaching local history at Key Stage 3

What does it mean by local? The new curriculum for 2014 makes it mandatory to include a local history study in your KS3 history curriculum.  For example:
  • a depth study linked to one of the British areas of study listed above
  • a study over time, testing how far...
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Why study the Mughal Empire at Key Stage 3?

Reasons for studying this period above the other tempting options are:
  • The Mughal Empire was the greatest of the Muslim empires of the early modern period.
  • The Mughal Emperor ruled over an estimated 100 million people at a time when Elizabeth I ruled over a population of...
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Teaching Pre-1066 thematic topic

What shall we do with Area 6 pre-1066 thematic unit? Here are some questions to ask yourself. ❶ Do you look at a topic that is not only engaging but one which is a great vehicle for helping pupils to understanding about change and continuity? ❷ Do you...
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