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 that a new set of lessons seems almost superfluous. What I have tried to do is to avoid repeating what I know you teach well and concentrate on some more original ideas, approaches or resources. You will still find your own favourite topics, but with a new twist.

The lesson on Manifest Destiny revolves around one fascinating painting which is analysed in detail, including hot seating the artist. The one on the reasons why people went west introduces artefacts to the KS4 menu of strategies and the work on the image of cowboys invites the use of music. The lesson on the railroads provides opportunities for using de Bono’s thinking skills as well as role play.

Helpful websites

Did you know that Andrew Charer of  timelines tv has now made available an on-line version of “Seven Journeys in the American West”, a series he made for the BBC a few years ago. It’s a user-friendly

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