Outstanding Lessons

Which cartoon best explains the paradox of the Nazi Soviet pact?

The Unholy Alliance: why on earth did Hitler and Stalin sign the Nazi-Soviet Pact when they clearly hated each other?

Starting with the historical puzzle of why Stalin and Hitler signed the Non-Aggression pact on August 1939 which so shocked the world, students then work collaboratively...
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Bringing GCSE Crime and Punishment right up-to-date

Latest statistics prove invaluable when making comparisons across time. Today, fewer than 5% of street robberies and burglaries are being solved across England and Wales. Unsolved crimes have risen by 20% in the last 3 years There has been an 83% rise in unsolved violent crimes in London. Only...
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SMART TASK: Why were mining towns such lawless places?

This is a very straightforward, yet highly effective task which asks students to distinguish between the generic and the specific, to speculate about possible reasons from clues, to think creatively about historical myths and just as importantly to know how to get full marks on...
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Was the life of a cowboy really so adventurous?

This lesson draws heavily on the ideas of Sarah Herrity, Advanced Skills Teacher, Wyvern Technology College, near Winchester. It moves students from their own initial perceptions of cowboys, through to the harsh realities of life. After an initial card sorting activity, students have to consider...
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Who went west and why?

This lesson worked really well with lower attaining Y10 students who had already studied the Plains Indians and the contact between the early mountain men at the trading posts. This was their first lesson on movement West. They had never used artefacts before in their GCSE...
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SMART TASK Revision: name your best squad

To help students remember who the key individuals were in the history of medicine, you might like to present them as members of two opposing football teams.... [private] Team A is clearly the best squad of 11, perhaps with a couple of substitutes. The ‘second team’ would be the next...
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SMART TASKS: Why did the US get involved in the Vietnam War?

Three separate short activities help students produce  a top grade answer to the question.

Task I - brainstorming early ideas

This first introductory task simply asks students to consider the various reasons why the US got involved in Vietnam, going over what has already been learned. Students...
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SMART TASK: Causes of the Wall Street Crash

Students are given a set of influence cards which help them to work out the answer to an apparent paradox. If people were getting rich quick in the 1920s, why then was there such a crash in 1929? Here the focus is on students making their...
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Hoover’s rubbish: Roosevelt moves in

This lesson on a fairly familiar theme approaches GCSE cartoon analysis in a different way.  Instead of showing the students the cartoon they are to interpret, they are simply given an outline, without the detail and certainly without the text.  Using their contextual knowledge students...
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New GCSE Crime and Punishment resources

To support the teaching of the  GCSE thematic study, Crime and Punishment, the Digital Panopticon team has developed Criminal Lives, 1780-1925 an exhibition and education pack for schools. This is an eight panel pop-up banner exhibition that uses historical images and archival documents to explore...
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Teaching USA 1900-1990 to Key Stage 4

The first batch of lessons focuses on four examination favourites but each adds a different subtle twist that lifts the lesson and makes students much more active and involved in their learning.< The lesson on the economic prosperity of the 1920s encourages students to work out...
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Teaching international relations 1945-1990

This section, dominated by the Cold War focuses mainly on teaching its origins, its main crises and the reason why it came to an end.  With the recent 'strengthening' of GCSE specifications many schools who had hitherto taught Inter-war International Relations alongside Germany 1918-39, now...
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Teaching Germany 1919-45

Hodder produce some of the best GCSE books on Germany whether for the Modern World and for the SHP Depth Module. They have now added an innovative digital dimension with great web links and activities. Resource on Hitler Youth (October 2010). This is part of Hodder...
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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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Who started the Korean War? Smart Task

In this short starter smart task students are given two contradictory accounts of the start of the Korean War, both emanating from Korea. But which account do they think is more plausible and which extract goes with which book? Students look for loaded language and...
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Teaching Crime and Punishment

I am sure you all know of the excellent websites out there to help you, but I would particularly recommend the Durham University Library, The British Library, and the National Archives . The Learning Curve section of the National Archives site is probably well-known to you all,...
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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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Migration: Online resources

Great new Migration site www.ourmigrationstory.org.uk Our Migration Story: The Making of Britain is an Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded collaboration between the Runnymede Trust and academics based at the universities of Cambridge and Manchester. Drawing on the words and research of over 60 historians based in...
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Link between Elizabethan theatre and bear-baiting

This week ( September 26,2016) saw the scheduling by Historic England of several London bear pits so they will not now be built over. The listing of these baiting areas in Bankside near the Globe theatre has highlighted the close relationship between bear baiting, when...
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The end of the Cold War for new GCSE history: taking a fresh look

In a recent article in Teaching History (TH 164, September 2016) David Reynolds offers some clear insights into this period which might help to clarify issues for your GCSE students. Firstly , he identifies three distinct , but overlapping, phases within the period 1989-1991: Phase 1 (second...
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