Outstanding Lessons at KS3

Indian Mutiny/rebellion of 1857

This lesson is aimed at Y9/GCSE students. It addresses three principal aspects of history teaching:
  1. How to be thoughtful and discriminating when selecting evidence that is relevant to answering two different questions on the same topic.
  2. How to explore the different aspects of historical explanations,...
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Teaching the British Empire KS3

In a recent article for the Telegraph, journalist and writer Jeremy Paxman made the following case for teaching the history of the British Empire: [It] explains so much about who we are now… Imperial history explains both why Britain has a seat on the UN Security...
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How well do these cartoons cover the causes of World War One?

In pairs, Y9/GCSE students visit 9 different cartoons posted around the wall. They have to work out: a. Which cause is being ‘covered’ in each cartoon - sometimes two. b. Which causes are NOT covered. They are given a textbook diagram explaining the causes in the form of an...
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Court of King Cholera: Where am I in the picture?

This activity works in two ways; it activates pupils’ prior knowledge in a fun way and raises questions about conditions at the time the chosen image, A Court for King Cholera was produced, i.e. September 1852. Students work in pairs.  They are each given a copy...
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Puzzle corner 3: the strange case of the missing slave

Pupils will find that this example of a black slave, painted out of an eighteenth century painting of a tobacco lord’s family, makes an intriguing starter to any lesson on the slave trade.  They will enjoy ‘finding’ him in the portrait, thanks to 21st century...
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Why were so many witches hanged in the 16th and 17th centuries?

Can we beat the textbook explanation?

The inspiration for this lesson came from the talented history department at Court Moor school and in particular the outstanding history subject leader Claire Conley-Harper. Originally it was a short thinking skills activity on raising historical questions which then grew...
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How ‘Bloody’ was Mary Tudor?

At the heart of the lesson is a courtroom trial. Pupils have to acquit Mary Tudor of the charge of being 'Bloody'.  They look together at the reasons why she was thought to be 'bloody' and then work in groups to analyse the evidence in...
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Parchment in the flames – the World Turned Upside Down

This lesson uses a familiar post-Civil War source in an unusually intelligent way to give Y8 pupils a good understanding of the need to interpret sources in their historical context.  The featured pamphlet has been variously attributed and captioned with dates as far apart as...
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Did the Great Fire really end the Great Plague of 1665?

In this one-lesson enquiry pupils look carefully at statistics and maps in order to challenge received opinion.  To do so they must raise as well as answer questions and need to be mindful of flaws in the evidence they use.  They conclude by reaching an...
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Why did Peasant unrest boil over into revolt in 1381?

Reasons for the Peasants' Revolt

This lesson uses the analogy of raising the political temperature, and then boiling over, to explain the Peasants' Revolt. Pupils construct their own living graphs to build up their own temperature charts. Why, if life was so harsh for medieval peasants...
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Teaching KS3 History: Medieval Britain

A wide range of lessons are showcased here for teaching Medieval Britain at KS3 because the medieval period is highly popular. 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...
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How significant was Magna Carta? SMART TASK KS3

Pupils have been commissioned to produce two brief podcasts for the British Library website aimed at a teenage audience. The first podcast is to last 100 seconds and must explain why Magna Carta is significant.  The second is to last  just 50 seconds and argue...
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The Empire strikes back! SMART TASK KS3

Having previously investigated the criticism of empire, students now set about defending it.  After studying a contemporary Indian view of Empire, which they critique in terms of usefulness, students explore a range of possible achievements of the empire, some using a structured sheet, others are...
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Why did Germany lose the Battle of Britain?

If Britain was only a few days away from defeat in August 1940 how on earth did she win the Battle of Britain a month later?

PLEASE NOTE - This lesson was aimed at Key Stage 3 but should be capable of being used with minimal...
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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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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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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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