October 2014
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Choosing your pre-1066 thematic unit in KS3 history

Area 6 Thematic study from before 1066 for the new 2014 KS3 history curriculum

I have been busy creating some more imaginative approaches to the pre-1066 unit that gives pupils’ a stronger chronological perspective. This is the first called Don’t be fooled.
Example A
This study entitled Don’t be fooled! Has been designed to be taught at the end of KS3 , either Y8 or Y9. It aims to ensure that all pupils, especially those who will no longer be studying history, have a sufficient understanding of the need to check the provenance of all they read and hear.
Through a series of case studies, a couple stretching back 2,000 years the study not only sharpens pupils’ ability to question what they are being told, it also strengthens their chronological understanding. By re-visiting topic studied much earlier in KS2 pupils will learn to question earlier assumptions based on evidence they can now critique. The study ends with a compelling enquiry into websites on the Holocaust. But can the pupils spot the decidedly dodgy ones?
Each case study has a specific set of objectives so that all key ideas about studying evidence in history are covered. You may choose to do perhaps 6, though more are offered.
Case study 1: Why is it so hard to work out what life was really like in the Iron Age? ( Focus on: paucity of evidence, reliance on , mainly critical, Roman sources
Case study 2: Why do we have to be careful not to believe Asser’s biography of Alfred?(nature of official biographies/hagiography)
Case study 3: Why have so many strong images of the Vikings had to be recently rewritten? ( Focus on fact that most written records written by victims countered with discovery of new artefacts etc)
Case study 4: Which evidence used to judge of King John wouldn’t stand up in court? A court room trial (see Outstanding lessons medieval Realms) Focus on sources copying one another, limited access, new types of evidence discovered)
Case study 5: Why do we find it so difficult to work out how old Elizabeth I was in her portraits? Focus on purpose of portraits and need to place artist in context of the times; official royal control of portraits-pouncing-used as propaganda weapon
Case study 6: Why do Victorian paintings pose such a problem when trying to find out about life in Victorian Britain? Difficulty of treating paintings too literally ,as photos and need to explore purpose
Case study 8 Why is it so difficult to spot the dodgy Holocaust websites? Compelling study of how easy it is to be duped if you don’t look at URL and research origin
Case study 9:Why have so many Russian history textbooks had to be recently rewritten? Pupils see that having access to hitherto closed archives makes a massive difference
Case study 10: Why is it so hard for people to work out what really happened on Bloody Sunday in Londonderry in 1972? Saville enquiry shows that it is still very hard to arrive at firm judgements even if you spend millions of pounds. Key ideas emerging are contentious nature of the topic polarises opinions and people have vested interest in telling their side of the story as persuasively as they can, with little regard for the inconvenient truths.

The second example will appear shortly.

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