Key stage 4 history

keystage 4 history

With the advent of the new GCSE syllabi a few years ago, the number of options suddenly mushroomed, making it very difficult to provide lessons on every topic.

As we pride ourselves on producing high quality lessons based on outstanding practice seen in classrooms, rather than just producing resources, we have been faced with the dilemma as to what to focus on. In the short term, we have decided to prioritise the following

1. Migration  2. Elizabethan England 3.  The First Crusade  4. Viking expansion 5. Spanish conquest of Americas

You might like to start with the Blog which deals with choice of specification.You will find that there is a wealth of advice on all aspects of leading history. Because I have spent so much of my professional life improving schools’ GCSE history results I have accumulated considerable knowledge of what works, which I want to pass on. The 25 history departments I worked with recently showed an average improvement of half a GCSE grade for every student compared to the results two years previously. As you might expect, therefore, the sections on raising attainment and using data have had a massive influence on those departments that have already acted on the advice. Colleagues I have worked with have kindly contributed short case studies describing how they managed to bring about rapid and substantial improvement. You can’t find this sort of material elsewhere.

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.Likewise with monitoring. The incredibly useful advice on conducting student, interviews and work scrutiny will prove every bit as helpful as the very practical advice on classroom observation and feeding back to colleagues. If you are looking for guidance on prioritising and forward planning you will find not only advice but an element of interactivity.For many of you, the site will simply prove to be a source of inspiration. You may choose to visit the very popular 100 great teaching ideas, or the equally influential imaginative learning activities, all of which have been tried and tested by many teachers.

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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The learning approach in history at Key Stage 4

Learning in Key Stage 4 history lessons is nearly always good but rarely is it outstanding.  Because we are so aware of the examination requirements and the need to induct history students into the black art of exam technique, we tend to do too...

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Learning Activities: Key Stage 4

Most evidence of history teaching at Key Stage 4 comes from OFSTED reports which repeatedly paint a picture of highly competent teaching but rather restricted learning.  Students are taught effective strategies for answering examination questions and writing competent coursework answers, but often in lessons they...
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Independence History at KS3 and GCSE

Independent Enquirers

Learners can develop as independent enquirers when they are provided with opportunities in history to:
  • explore for themselves events, issues or problems from different perspectives and consider the influence of circumstances, beliefs and feelings on decisions
  • make personal judgements about the relevance and value...
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Raising attainment at Key Stage 4

This section of the site contains four different types of advice. There is general advice, outlining factors that usually explain success at GCSE and a short paper entitled 'Smoking Out Underachievement'.  Then there are five really interesting case studies of best practice.  Each has...

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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...
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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 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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Elizabeth and the Catholic threat: Elizabethans GCSE Smart Task

Asking questions in history.

Elizabeth’s policy towards the Catholics: students use a graph to raise their own enquiry questions which are then researched. Working in pairs, students study the graph showing the number of Catholic priests who were either executed or died in prison during the reign...
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Historic Environment GCSE: Castles

Castles: 2 Smart Tasks

Those of you who are studying the castles topic, maybe as part of the OCR specification, might be interested in two smart tasks on the development of castles.

Task 1

This short task acts as a diagnostic assessment tool to check students’ understanding of...
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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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20 Imaginative products at Key Stage 4

This part of the site offers an initial short list of the best twenty products I have seen in the last couple of years.  Wherever possible the brief description cross-references you to an Outstanding Lesson in which the imaginative outcome features. It is strongly...

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Teaching GCSE History: Terrorism and the Iraq war

This section is included mainly to help teaching of the new OCR’s History Modern World unit entitled A New Age 1948-2005 which deals with terrorism and the Iraq war. Centres who have used terrorism coursework for SHP in the past might also find something of...
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Crime and Punishment starter: Smuggling – SMART TASK

This simple smart task uses the rather unusual source of a famous Kipling poem to ascertain what students already know about smuggling and what they need to know. The lesson starts with you quickly reading the poem aloud to help with motivation and encourage the lower-attaining...
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Poaching: Need or Greed? A 3 minute starter SMART TASK KS4

Throughout history, people have had different views of poachers. Were they: a. Starving labourers, snaring game to keep body and soul together, OR b. Members of gangs targeting places such as deer parks in order to sell on what they caught? Pupils are give just a couple of minutes to...
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Teaching American West at Key Stage 4

Schools have been teaching the American West as part of the SHP course for over 30 years. I introduced it myself in the first department I led. There have been so many examination questions set on this module and so many good textbooks now available...
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Mountain Men – Myth and Reality SMART TASK KS4

Having looked at the role of Indian trappers who had been supplying skins to British, French and Spanish traders on the Missouri river for decades, students now turn their attention to the Mountain Men. What were they really like? The lesson starts with a funny story...
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Manifest destiny: beat the textbook/expert caption

Students find this a fun lesson in which they not only consolidate their knowledge of the people who crossed the Plains but also present their understanding of the order in which they came, by custom animating annotations on a PowerPoint slide. To fully appreciate the...
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How can we explain the rise and boom in the cattle industry?

This enquiry starts with students posing 7 expert historical questions, stimulated by a graph.  They then set about investigating their questions using a set of written clues supported by a PowerPoint presentation.  Not only do students pose their own questions about the start of the...
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Teaching the History of Medicine

As you all know, the trick with teaching this course is to marry a strong contextual knowledge with an understanding of the various factors that had a positive and a negative impact on change. Concepts of progress and regress need to be looked at over...
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How did Snow make the breakthrough with cholera?

This lesson focuses on problem-solving. Instead of simply telling students how clever Snow was, or showing them a video explaining his breakthrough, students have to see if they can spot the connections Snow made. Only when they have tried is the answer revealed.  Methods such...
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SMART TASK Key Stage 4: Why was Rohm murdered?

If Ernst Rohm was one of Hitler’s closest allies, as you can see in this photo, why then did he have him and other members of the SA murdered in June 1934? On the cards you have been given are several ideas that have been put...
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