Teaching the new GCSE thematically: 10 approaches that really work

Now that all schools have to teach a thematic study I thought I’d share my experience of observing hundreds of GCSE SHP lessons over almost 20 years. I have distilled them down to just my top ten. They don’t claim to be unique ideas; they are merely my analysis of what works best. And it’s not just me that thinks so. I would like to acknowledge my debt to Ian Dawson whose intelligent ideas pervade this article.

1. Work on chronology in all its forms in a fun way

I’m not just talking sequencing here, or tedious timelines, but interactive tasks which require students to discuss concepts such as: Duration, Interval, Contemporaneity

We all know the consequences of students who don’t have a firm grasp of different periods. Not only do they risk writing about the wrong period, they also fail to see the links between key individuals, events and developments.

One way of making this fun is to build in a Time Team slot into a number of lessons. GCSE students work in small teams competitively to see who can match the right names to the right developments and periods. This need not be trivial. You can ask how

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