Active History Creative history History Thinking history

Residual memory, finger tip knowledge and weaving ‘Big’ history

Quite why it took me so long to make space in the diary for the SHP Conference at Leeds Trinity now seems difficult to explain but until 2013 this annual event had been something I had heard a lot about but not quite got around to attending. Having been blown away by the variety of ideas and experiences on offer in last year’s plenaries and workshops I was eagerly looking forward to a second helping this year and I was not disappointed.

I’d kind of chosen my workshops with a common theme and together with a little follow up reading I’ve started an experiment that I’ll be looking at again in the coming academic year. Outlined below are pen pictures of the sessions that provided the inspiration for the activity and brief comments on the task as delivered in a 50 minute lesson with a mixed ability Y7 class.

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.

Active History G&T History Local History

Active Local History – Restoring Pride in Our Local Heritage

Castle 4Over the last year I’ve been working with pupils in Y7, Y8 and Y10 on a spot of local history. The “Eye: A Castle Connected” project, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, English Heritage and Mid Suffolk District Council has involved renovation work at Eye Castle, outreach work with local primary schools and a variety of art, music and ICT workshops here in school. The Y8 and Y10 pupils have been particularly involved throughout the project and have made a significant contribution to the running of workshops, the design and production of resources for primary school children,information boards within the castle grounds anda new smart-phone app which will be available to download in the next month or so.

Education G&T

Higher Education Field Academy (HEFA) 2013 – Cambridge University

HEFA 2You may be familiar with the Channel 4 Time Team programmes which have done a great deal to popularise archaeology since 1994. Although our school site has not (yet) featured in the series it is nevertheless no stranger to archaeological investigations and has ‘turned up’ some interesting finds over the last decade. The building work for new sports facilities necessitated surveys that revealed a fascinating history of occupation from Anglo Saxon times to the present day. I was pleased therefore to have twelve pupils from our Y9 & Y10 accepted on Cambridge University’s HEFA which is run by Carenza Lewis who has also appeared on Time Team.


iPad in the classroom

I’ve been experimenting with using the iPad in lessons and would like to recommend a nifty timeline application called ‘Timeline Eons’ reviewed by History Today in February. After having played with the free version for a few days I have upgraded to the full version for under six pounds and although there are probably a few fine adjustments to be made the App is well worth the outlay.

Eons – The Spread of the Black Death

It comes with a pre-built “graphic representation of the entire natural and human history” which is fascinating but with a distinct American bias. If you have the free version you’re stuck with this state of affairs but with the upgrade there is the opportunity to add your own events which is great. So far I’ve used it with Y7 and Y9 looking at the spread of the Black Death and significant events from the twentieth century respectively.

I’m playing the image through to a Promethean IWB and the quality is excellent. The only slight problem I’m having at the moment is the hassle of hooking the iPad up to the RGB for the IWB. As well as risking damaging pins with repeated use it also means you can’t change between the iPad and say your PC or laptop as easily as you should be able to during a lesson. The solution is not too far away however as I’ve a KVM switch on order that should allow me to have all three hooked up simultaneously.

So there it is….a great way to use your iPad in lessons and not just for looking good in the staffroom.

Active History Creative history History Revision

3-D History – Active Revision with Playmobil

It is that time of year again when we’re scratching our heads trying to think of something different to do with revision classes. Well why not get a bit creative, raid the toy cupboard and see what you can find that is relevant to your schemes of work?

Learning Platforms VLEs

Encouraging independent study – using Wikispaces

 A couple of years ago we re shaped our KS3 schemes of work using a thematic approach to reflect the most recent changes in the National Curriculum (NC). At the same time we were also fortunate to be able to invest in the SHP series of text books by Hodder. The accompanying DynamicLearing networked resources are very expensive but well worth the investment; giving pupils the ability to use an e-copy of the textbook to work anywhere on the school network. Pupils have really taken to using the resources and it has encouraged them to be more independent in their studying without spending a great many wasted hours trawling the internet!  There is a cracking little investigation into the Crusades in the Y7 book. Based around four questions it lends itself to a group task in class but I really wanted to do something a bit different. Wouldn’t it be great to get the kids working together outside class? Enter….Wikispaces.

Education G&T

Stepping Stones To Excellence

Stepping Stones To Excellence

“Widening access and improving participation in higher education are a crucial part of our mission. Our aim is to promote and provide the opportunity of successful participation in higher education to everyone who can benefit from it. This is vital for social justice and economic competitiveness.” HEFCE (

 If you search Google for the phrase “every journey starts with a small step” you get about 39,800,000 ‘hits’. The fact that you have to start a journey in order to get to your destination is self evident. Often however this first step can be as much about overcoming a psychological barrier as anything physical.

Homework – keys to success

The Homework Conundrum

Homework is always a subject that generates comment and discussion.  Teachers are either told that they are not setting enough homework or too much. Then there are debates about whether homework serves any purpose at all and of course let’s not forget the perennial brainteaser “what is a meaningful homework”. For what it’s worth my opinion is that homework is an essential feature of the school curriculum.

For many children homework poses no problems and is often even enjoyed! These children probably benefit from having supportive (nagging!) parents or carers a quiet place to work and a fair amount of motivation. Even then some of them struggle with the time management and planning aspects that are often required. But what about the kids who have none of this support? They are the ones who often have the most entertaining excuses for not handing their homework in on time but these ‘tall tales’ sometimes mask a number of genuine problems they have faced trying to do the task they have been set.

In school they don’t always succeed but when they do it is often because:

  • there are very clear expectations and structures to work with;
  • they have been able to discuss work;
  • they have worked collaboratively.

One aim of homework is, of course, to get kids to develop a bit more independence and self-discipline in their studies but I’m becoming more and more convinced that sadly that’s exactly where most of the ‘problems’ with homework start. A majority of our pupils have internet access at home. So here are a few ideas my faculty are trying out…

History WW1

Visit to Gallipoli

As far as I know no-one from my wife’s family has ever visited the Helles Memorial to look up the name of Douglas Milroy. There is very little chance of a visit in the near future from any of us; who knows, maybe one day……

I was really pleased when a good friend, who had organised herself a trip to Gallipoli, offered to find Douglas’ name on the memorial and leave a small cross of remembrance for us. Thanks Lee.