Inspired by a session at the Historical Association conference, staff at York College have encouraged their students to engage with the cultural milieu of the periods they study at A Level. This is to help them gain the sense of period and place they need in order to make sense of their new specific topic knowledge. The results of two of them are here. There is a document on culture in Germany in the 20th century and one on 15th and 16th century English and European culture. Nice for other A level students, useful also for students doing GCSE units on all or part of these topics, and definitely nerd-y knowledge – thanks for sharing!
Whose Histories?: Helping busy History teachers keep their curriculum diverse
This short guide was created and has been recently updated by the University of York’s PGCE history trainees in a morning session where they thought about diversity and explored what resources are available. It contains some general principles and ideas for making lessons more diverse, with links to resources. It is not intended to be exhaustive, but to be a contribution to help busy teachers. Please do make suggestions to improve it.
“How do we create a curriculum in schools and universities that best reflects the histories of our current students and future citizens? As Britain has become a more diverse society, and as a result become increasingly aware of its diverse past, the need to ensure that is reflected in what we teach and research is a question of growing importance, educationally and politically.”
That’s the start of the blogpost that explains the thinking behind the new resources for schools trial from Oxford University. You can read the blogpost HERE
The result of this thinking so far is the development of knowledge rich resources that are not focused on the British Isles, or even Europe. This site is worth exploring to expand your own subject knowledge, for resources you can use and adapt for use in class, for ideas about more diverse approaches to school history topics.
The resources team would welcome comments via the website.
Huge thanks to Dan Nuttall and Laura Goodyear for sharing their resources with everyone in the history teacher tribe. We are really pleased to publish the link here. People at the HA’s recent Yorkshire History Forum were able to hear them explain their work. If you missed it, do get in touch with Dan and he will happily explain the thinking behind these resources in more depth.
If you’re finding it difficult to teach students in any Key Stage what an argued piece of writing that offers a substantiated judgement looks like, you need to meet someone. She’s called the Old Lady in the Post Office and nothing I’ve tried has been more effective in helping students understand what a line of argument looks like when it runs throughout an essay. Here is the monologue as a PPT: The Old Lady in the Post Office . It has a screen and handout version.
Inspired by the work of Daisy Christodoulou, and her argument that we can teach and formatively assess specific elements within longer pieces of writing, the Old Lady is an attempt to characterise the line of argument, helping students self- and peer-assess this particular element of writing judgement essays in History.
The task is simple – the student with the best ‘Old Lady’ voice reads out the argument and the other students have to identify the core problem she has with the Post Office. They can then identify how she acknowledges subsidiary factors and how she brings them into her argument and builds her opinion from start to finish.
Once they have done this ten-minute task, they are able to identify the line of argument in their own and other essays by answering questions like ‘Can you ‘hear’ the Old Lady coming through?’ and ‘Has she got a clear answer to this question?’ Consequently students are far quicker at identifying their own and other lines of argument.
Bonus Tip 1: To exemplify a ‘real historian’ doing this, look no further than The Old Man in the Army Uniform. He can be found presenting an argued case about the causes of the American Civil War on YouTube for Prager University. (YouTube clip)
Bonus Tip 2: This characterisation of a line of argument as the ‘Old Lady in the Post Office’ is showing promising signs in the task of analysing written interpretations and looking for the overarching interpretation. It seems particularly useful for distinguishing between the interpretation and the evidence offered in support of it.
for YorkClio in Feb 2018
This is a developing project. Madeleine Blaess was born in France, but grew up in Acomb and went to the Bar Convent School (now All Saints). She was trapped in Paris during the Nazi occupation and wrote a diary recording everyday life under occupation. She managed not to be interned, by pretending to be French. Two of her friends were murdered in Auschwitz. After the war she was an academic in Medieval French Literature at the University of Sheffield. The diary was revealed among her papers, which she left to the university when she died in 2013. This was left to the University of Sheffield at her death.
The University of Sheffield are working on these papers and the diary is shortly to be publisned open access at White Rose University Press (which itself is something YorkClio folk should know about!) There is also a 35 minute film on its way.
This promises to be a fantastic way for York History and French teachers to connect a local story to a much bigger story that is commonly taught. We hope to develop the connection with this project further.
Here are a selection of photos taken of the Norman parts of York Minster that may be useful resources for classwork. Descriptions of what they are are underneath. If you need information about York Minster and church history across any period do contact Alex O’Donnell from the Minster learning team via firstname.lastname@example.org. The team will be happy to help with staff knowledge updating and/or work with students from Key Stage 1 through to A Level. They have a lot of information on the Minster in the Tudor Reformation period that may be very useful for some of us.
The Doomstone: this would have originally been on the front of one, or possibly both, of the Norman York Minsters. It would have given a clear message to worshippers about what awaited them if they did not lead a godly life and that they needed the church. There would also have been a depiction of heaven, but this is lost. It would have been brightly painted. If you look carefully you can see devils and the mouth of hell as a cauldron. There are also toads emerging from nostrils!
The remains of a statue of the Virgin and Child is early Norman. It may have been defaced at the Reformation, or in order to use it as core stucture material.
There are two lovely examples of Norman pillars. One of them has no top and so you can clearly see how the pillars, while beautifully faced, were packed with rubble.
The weathered figures are probably apostles and they would have been on the outside of the Norman cathedral(s).
Why two pictures of brick walls? Well, the first is built of millstone grit. It’s re-cycled Roman stone. The Minster was, and is, built of local Tadcaster limestone, whereas the Romans used gritstone for their forum, which was on the site of the Minster. Gritstone is tougher than limestone and the Norman builders took full advantage of all the Roman remains in the area to use the gritstone to build strong foundation walls. Clever folk those Normans! The second wall picture shows herring-bone pattern. It is typical of Anglo-Saxon building and reminds us that Norman masters had Anglo-Saxon workmen building their cathedrals and churches.
The top of the column is richly carved and still has some remains of red paint on it. It is not unlike a rough classical column and the Norman architecture style is known as Romanesque in the rest of Europe.
The stained glass is Norman, which makes it some of the oldest that survives. It would have been part of a window in the Norman cathedral(s).
The small piece of stone (in the plastic box!) is actually very valuable. It is a fragment that shows how Normans painted their churches white and then painted on red false mortar lines. This is a rare surviving fragment of what would have been a very common scene in Norman England. Possibly the white painting made buildings stand out as very rich and important.
The Minster Learning Centre staff can explain how the Norman cathedrals developed with their handy model!
At these links you will find some nice film clips made for A Level historians by the Pathfinder teacher trainees. They cover study skills from writing essays to referencing the personal study. They will help your students and save you explanation time. 12 film clips about A Level study skills A Level essay The second clip talks about referencing and the link is here: Referencing styles