Key stage 4 history

keystage 4 history

Welcome to the Key Stage 4 section of the site. There are a significant number of history department sites where the target is clearly GCSE history students themselves. This site’s focus is quite different. It has been written for history subject leaders and classroom teachers. In particular, we are gearing up for the new history GCSEs in September 2016, which will soon be upon us now, and will be featuring planning as well as outstanding lessons in the months ahead.

Rather than produce even more lessons on familiar topics we are going to focus our attention on the topics that have not really featured at GCSE level for quite a while. So expect lessons over the summer of 2016 on:
1. Migration  2. Elizabethan England 3.  Medieval Britain  4. The Vikings

You might like to start with the Blog which deals with choice of specification.You will find that there is a wealth of advice on all aspects of leading history. Because I have spent so much of my professional life improving schools’ GCSE history results I have accumulated considerable knowledge of what works, which I want to pass on. The 25 history departments I worked with recently showed an average improvement of half a GCSE grade for every student compared to the results two years previously. As you might expect, therefore, the sections on raising attainment and using data have had a massive influence on those departments that have already acted on the advice. Colleagues I have worked with have kindly contributed short case studies describing how they managed to bring about rapid and substantial improvement. You can’t find this sort of material elsewhere.

Many of you reading this will be subject leaders. You are well-catered for especially in the area of monitoring. You are given shrewd advice on classroom observation, feeding back to colleagues, carrying out pupil interviews and how to conduct an effective work scrutiny. When there is just so much to do when leading a history team, you will be grateful for the excellent advice on prioritisation and forward planning – advice that really works.Likewise with monitoring. The incredibly useful advice on conducting student, interviews and work scrutiny will prove every bit as helpful as the very practical advice on classroom observation and feeding back to colleagues. If you are looking for guidance on prioritising and forward planning you will find not only advice but an element of interactivity.For many of you, the site will simply prove to be a source of inspiration. You may choose to visit the very popular 100 great teaching ideas, or the equally influential imaginative learning activities, all of which have been tried and tested by many teachers.

Which cartoon best explains the paradox of the Nazi Soviet pact?

The Unholy Alliance: why on earth did Hitler and Stalin sign the Nazi-Soviet Pact when they clearly hated each other?

Starting with the historical puzzle of why Stalin and Hitler signed the Non-Aggression pact on August 1939 which so shocked the world, students then work collaboratively...
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GCSE History: Guide to planning and teaching Edexcel 9-1 GCSE

E Lots of thinking has taken place to decide the best way to structure the new Edexcel 9-1 GCSE history course. The rationale behind this plan comes straight from successful classroom practice.. One of my former Advanced Skills Teachers has written this about planning the above course: This Essential Guide shows...
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Bringing GCSE Crime and Punishment right up-to-date

Latest statistics prove invaluable when making comparisons across time. Today, fewer than 5% of street robberies and burglaries are being solved across England and Wales. Unsolved crimes have risen by 20% in the last 3 years There has been an 83% rise in unsolved violent crimes in London. Only...
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SMART TASK: Why were mining towns such lawless places?

This is a very straightforward, yet highly effective task which asks students to distinguish between the generic and the specific, to speculate about possible reasons from clues, to think creatively about historical myths and just as importantly to know how to get full marks on...
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Was the life of a cowboy really so adventurous?

This lesson draws heavily on the ideas of Sarah Herrity, Advanced Skills Teacher, Wyvern Technology College, near Winchester. It moves students from their own initial perceptions of cowboys, through to the harsh realities of life. After an initial card sorting activity, students have to consider...
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Who went west and why?

This lesson worked really well with lower attaining Y10 students who had already studied the Plains Indians and the contact between the early mountain men at the trading posts. This was their first lesson on movement West. They had never used artefacts before in their GCSE...
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SMART TASK Revision: name your best squad

To help students remember who the key individuals were in the history of medicine, you might like to present them as members of two opposing football teams.... [private] Team A is clearly the best squad of 11, perhaps with a couple of substitutes. The ‘second team’ would be the next...
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SMART TASKS: Why did the US get involved in the Vietnam War?

Three separate short activities help students produce  a top grade answer to the question.

Task I - brainstorming early ideas

This first introductory task simply asks students to consider the various reasons why the US got involved in Vietnam, going over what has already been learned. Students...
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SMART TASK: Causes of the Wall Street Crash

Students are given a set of influence cards which help them to work out the answer to an apparent paradox. If people were getting rich quick in the 1920s, why then was there such a crash in 1929? Here the focus is on students making their...
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Hoover’s rubbish: Roosevelt moves in

This lesson on a fairly familiar theme approaches GCSE cartoon analysis in a different way.  Instead of showing the students the cartoon they are to interpret, they are simply given an outline, without the detail and certainly without the text.  Using their contextual knowledge students...
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New GCSE Crime and Punishment resources

To support the teaching of the  GCSE thematic study, Crime and Punishment, the Digital Panopticon team has developed Criminal Lives, 1780-1925 an exhibition and education pack for schools. This is an eight panel pop-up banner exhibition that uses historical images and archival documents to explore...
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Prioritising in history at Key Stage 4

As always there is a balancing act to be done. On the one hand you have to deal with the immediate and the urgent; on the other you know that you cannot afford to ignore the important issues to do with improving teaching and learning....
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Developing your staff ay keystage 4

Teaching GCSE presents its own set of challenges, not least learning the code that you will need to crack to bring your students GCSE success.  Because the GCSE  history exam has become so formulaic, it is crucial that all teachers feel that they have the...
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Monitoring performance in history at KS4

The best way of monitoring students' performance is to set frequent exam based activities, broadly under test conditions and then to mark them WITH the students using GCSE criteria. Students should be asked to IMPROVE their answer, there and then so that you can be...
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Using data in history at Key Stage 4

Twelve years or so ago the only meaningful data we had for GCSE was the percentage of students achieving each grade. The headline everyone was interested in was of course the A*-Cs. Then NFER started producing statistics which became known as residuals. These gave a...
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Teaching USA 1900-1990 to Key Stage 4

The first batch of lessons focuses on four examination favourites but each adds a different subtle twist that lifts the lesson and makes students much more active and involved in their learning.< The lesson on the economic prosperity of the 1920s encourages students to work out...
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Teaching international relations 1945-1990

This section, dominated by the Cold War focuses mainly on teaching its origins, its main crises and the reason why it came to an end.  With the recent 'strengthening' of GCSE specifications many schools who had hitherto taught Inter-war International Relations alongside Germany 1918-39, now...
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Curriculum rationale for history at KS 4


Choice of specification and order of teaching

As you prepare for the introduction of the new GCSE in September 2016, it will be important to be considering the reasons why you chose that particular course and why you plan to tackle it in the way you...

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Teaching Germany 1919-45

Hodder produce some of the best GCSE books on Germany whether for the Modern World and for the SHP Depth Module. They have now added an innovative digital dimension with great web links and activities. Resource on Hitler Youth (October 2010). This is part of Hodder...
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How well do these cartoons cover the causes of World War One?

In pairs, Y9/GCSE students visit 9 different cartoons posted around the wall. They have to work out: a. Which cause is being ‘covered’ in each cartoon - sometimes two. b. Which causes are NOT covered. They are given a textbook diagram explaining the causes in the form of an...
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The learning approach in history at Key Stage 4

Learning in Key Stage 4 history lessons is nearly always good but rarely is it outstanding.  Because we are so aware of the examination requirements and the need to induct history students into the black art of exam technique, we tend to do too...

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Learning Activities: Key Stage 4

Most evidence of history teaching at Key Stage 4 comes from OFSTED reports which repeatedly paint a picture of highly competent teaching but rather restricted learning.  Students are taught effective strategies for answering examination questions and writing competent coursework answers, but often in lessons they...
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