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How to get the most out of the AQA 9-1 GCSE Germany Period Study

AQA GCSE historyLots of thinking has gone into planning and resourcing this AQA period study.The rationale behind this comes straight from successful classroom practice.

The entire course has been structured around 10 core principles designed to approach 2016 GCSE  lessons.

This AQA Germany SOW with fully resourced lesson enquiries has been designed to increase engagement and motivation. The lessons have been structured to make long, medium and short term planning easier.

The SOW (free to download at the bottom of this page) provides access and challenge to all students across the ability range. The enquiries encourage reading, clever source analysis and build on best practice in the teaching of historical interpretations. This SOW will also help you make history meaningful to your students and it will make assessment workable and useful.

Engagement and Motivation

When curiosity and fascination are caught, learning accelerates.

All students, especially lower attainers need to be engaged if they are to sustain the effort needed to embrace complex concepts and recall important detailed knowledge.

All of these enquiries are built around the principles for success in the history classroom. The aim is to make history meaningful by focusing enquiries around personal stories, particular places or puzzles and problems to be solved.

The use of the personal story is a powerful tool which brings history to life and makes students care about the past. In this AQA Germany period study you hear from the famous and not so famous.

Using a particular place is also motivating to students as it makes history real. The enquiry on control starts in the Bavarian town of Augsburg. Can your class work out why less and less people over time were heard criticising the Nazi regime whilst in pubs and bars?

Making Planning easier

This AQA Germany  SOW has been planned to  ensure that all of the content from the specification is covered.

Lots of thinking has gone into each of the 23 enquiry questions that have used to plan the course. They are vital to shape each different learning journey go in the direction it goes in.

This period study follows the assessment focus given by AQA for this particular unit. The specification states that:

‘The assessment will enable students to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding. Students will also apply their knowledge and understanding to second order concepts such as causation, consequence and change. Students will also evaluate interpretations.’

Once the engaging start has hooked students in, the carefully planned sequence of steps are used to gather the evidence needed to answer the big question.

Nearly every enquiry concludes with a worthwhile and significant outcome. This end product pulls the learning together and allows students to join up their thinking.

ScatteringThis AQA history GCSE course models the types of exam questions that are assessed in this period study. They are scattered throughout the crime course. However, teachers should be wary to overuse them as this would make lessons ‘death by exam question.’ Here they are used pragmatically.

The end products are  purposely varied and make history meaningful.

Access and Challenge

It is clear that the  9-1 GCSE courses are more challenging than ever. More content needs to be recalled and the exam questions appear to be harder than before.

What with E:BACC and the Progress 8 measures, more students than ever are being asked to study history. This has to be a good thing. However, if a GCSE course is too difficult this could have a negative impact on motivation and behaviour for some individuals.

2 way graphThis new GCSE enquiry led  course has been planned with this in mind.  images, sorting activities, two way graphs, ripple and Venn diagrams are all used to ensure that work is accessible and challenging to all.

Modelling is key to success in history. Teachers should aim to ensure that the students know the secrets of success and can see what this looks like.

Having carefully thought out end tasks that use the information from the previous steps is key to ensure that learning is fun yet rigorous.

We start with an overview of the entire course.

Revision is vital to success and this is built in along the way.

It is recommended that you build revision into your course from the start. This blog post will give you some ideas.

Encouraging source analysis and reading

This SOW encourages students to read for  a purpose. That is why many of the activities focus on reading. There are also many opportunities to evaluate sources too.

Teaching Historical interpretations

Interps 2It is pleasing to see  that there is more emphasis on the teaching of interpretations in the 9-1 GCSE.  For advice and ideas on how to approach the teaching of this second order concept read this short article.

This period study on Germany 1890-1945 assesses historical interpretations. A number of the enquiries support this. In the study of Germany in 1923 your students will unpick two different interpretations about the impact of hyperinflation. Once your class has worked out Why Hitler became Chancellor, they will decide which interpretation best explains Hitler’s appeal to the German electorate. When looking at the German economy your students will work out why historians disagree even when using the same source material. When finding out about the influence of the Gestapo your students will unpick two more interpretations.

Making assessment workable and useful

Schools are obsessed with generating data to track progress. Fact.

Teachers are asked to predict grades and comment on progress.  In reality this is difficult because in a terminal exam students are required to answer lots of different style questions. The final grade they are given takes into account how they have performed the entire course.

Teachers need to be able to drill down and see how students perform on individual exam questions. This SOW allows you to do this. It builds to answering examination questions and model how students should approach them. This is good practice.

For example, the  enquiry: Putsches or Money, which threatened early Weimar the most?  Models how to answer the examination question:

Which of the following was the more important reason why The Weimar Republic was in danger 1919-1923:

  • Economic Problems
  • Political Unrest   12 marks

Sometimes you should allow your students to answer an examination question cold – give them no support but just see how they can do. Th is will generate some important data for you.

The stepped approach to the enquiries will allow you to check learning. Mini plenarys are used for this reason.

It is recommended that you should only really mark the end products in detail providing targets for improvement and high lighting where the student did well. Do not spend hours marking the work in the build up to the final task.

It is important for departments to agree which of the many  end products used across the course they will mark diagnostically. Subject leaders need to generate reliable data which can be used to track progress across the department. If time allows student work should be moderated and discussed in a departmental meeting.

How much detailed marking should you do? A fair guide is to mark one or two of end products every six weeks with diagnostic comments. Build in opportunities for peer and self marking for some of the other work. Students need to trained to mark their own work.  All of this will help keep workload manageable.

The carefully crafted end products provide assessment opportunities that also allow your students to show you how well they are doing. How well have they grasped the key concepts? How accurate is their deployment of the substantive knowledge they deploy to support their arguments?

This kind of information informs the teacher and enriches discussions around which students may need more support with explanatory writing? Which topics may need to covered again? Whether or not the sequence of lessons leading up to the end product motivated the students and armed them with the skills and knowledge needed to tackle the final task.

These are the kinds of things that make assessment useful.

Download the SOW here.

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