History Second Order Concepts

ICT and the ‘S’ word

Historical Significance
Historical Significance

A great deal has been written about teaching pupils about significance. If you want to get a feel for the extensive work that has been done in this area you only have to look at ‘Teaching History’ to access to a range of excellent articles on the topic.  From the late Robert Phillips ‘GREAT’ mnemonic to Christine Counsell’s Five ‘R’s there are numerous scaffolds that we can use to help children assess the significant of something or someone. Here are a couple of ICT based ideas that have worked for me.

Clever crafting of a scheme of work that is founded on a good mix of overview and depth studies with a liberal helping of gripping enquiry questions can sometimes leave you a little short of time to cover everything you would like. I love using the resources on Ian Dawson’s Thinking History’ website and working with Y7 & Y8 we have used ‘The Big Story of Monarchy’ to great effect; the idea of playing Top Trumps never fails to get attention and sustain motivation. So I was wondering if I could follow this up in some way or have an alternative and I came up with an Excel based activity.

Power Data Sheet
Power Data Sheet
Kings graph
Power Graph Sheet

The pupils decide what score to give a range of monarchs and they enter these on the Power Data Sheet. These results are then transformed into a graph on the next Power Graph Sheet. The criteria are slightly different to those used in the ‘Thinking History’ activity but you could change these if you wanted. Importantly however the graphic representation  shows the relative scores for different criteria and this can be used as a stimulus for further discussion depending on what weighting you give to the different criteria. The actual spreadsheet (KingsSignificance) is in the box ‘Useful Stuff’ folder on this page if you’d like to use it.


My second idea to get the pupils thinking and discussing the significance of events was using Padlet which used to be called Wallwisher. I’ve used this web based tool several times for other tasks but liked the idea that pupils could see each others ideas and make their own arguments from home. This was an end of year task that my class have just completed. The idea was for them to consider the whole of their programme of study this year and make a case for a particular event that they thought was the most significant. A snapshot of some of their completed ‘notes’ is shown here:Padlet

By richmiller66

My name is Richard Miller. I am currently an Assistant Headteacher (Personal Development) at a secondary school in Suffolk, UK. I teach history, citizenship, sociology and cultural capital for pupils aged 11-18. I am particularly interested in teaching more able pupils and looking for innovative and creative approaches to learning and teaching. I use the blog as my reflective journal - the views I share are 'work in progress'!

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