History Resource Cupboard – lessons and resources for schools

History Resource Cupboard - lessons and resources for schools

How to get the most out of the AQA Elizabethan England British Depth Study

Elizabeth Armada portraitLots of thinking has gone into planning and resourcing the AQA British Depth Study  Elizabethan England c:1568 – 1603.

The rationale behind this comes straight from successful classroom practice.

The entire course has been structured around 10 core principles designed to support learning.

The  Elizabethan England SOW with fully resourced lesson enquiries has been created to increase engagement and motivation. Download the SOW at the bottom of this page. It is recommended that you teach the scheme of work in order listed in this document.

It has been structured to make long, medium and short term planning easier.

Each enquiry provides access and challenge to all students across the ability range. The lessons encourage reading, and encourage your students to think historically by building on best practice in the teaching of a number of the second order concepts. The SOW also makes assessment workable and useful too.

Engagement and Motivation

When curiosity and fascination is caught, learning accelerates.

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

All of the enquiries here are built around the principles for success in the history classroom. The intention 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 the Early Elizabethan unit you hear from real people.

You will look at young Elizabeth and work out if her troubled early years created her ‘ruling’ personality?

Inevitably you will meet Elizabeth’s cousin Mary Queen of Scots and work out how much of a threat she posed, and ultimately, why she was executed?

When focusing on Elizabeth’s problems you ask Why did the Earls of Westmorland and Northumberland revolt in 1569?

Using a particular place is also motivating to students as it makes history real.

What better place is there to spend a day than in the National Portrait Gallery? To deal with those two larger than life explorer types, Drake and Raleigh, your students have to decide which one will survive a gallery re-hang?Raleigh

You will also venture around London as a visitor to the city with a keen eye on its culture and Elizabethan cultural change.

Venturing further afield your students will assess why the attempts to colonise Virginia failed?

Making Planning easier

This Elizabethan course has been planned to ensure that nearly all of the content from the specification is covered.

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

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.

This scheme models the types of exam questions that are assessed in the British Depth Study.  They are scattered carefully throughout this course. They have been used pragmatically to avoid  ‘death by exam question.’

Teaching exam questions exhaustively is reductive. Teaching exam questions using exam criteria in year 7 is criminal.

The end products  in this scheme have been designed to be purposely varied. They have been created to 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.

The new GCSE enquiry led British Depth study has been planned with this in mind.   Images, sorting activities, radar graphs, mysteries and Venn diagrams are used to ensure that work is accessible and challenging to all.

Modelling is key to success. The intention is 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.

Encourage Reading

The enquiries cover all of the content in an engaging and interesting way and they prepare your students to be ready to sit the new GCSE examinations.

One of the aims is encourage students to read, to get them to read for a purpose. That is why many of the activities in our lessons focus on reading. Your classes will come across stories such as the reconstruction of a rich gentleman visiting London. He describes the ‘culture’ he sees, and your decide whether culture in Elizabethan England can be described as of a ‘golden age’?

Teaching Historical Interpretations

It is pleasing that there is more emphasis on the teaching of interpretations in the 9-1 GCSE.   Advice has been given on how to approach the teaching of this second order concept.

Early Elizabethan England The AQA Elizabethan England course in part focuses on interpretations.

At History Resource Cupboard we believe it is vital that you take a long term approach to the teaching of interpretations right across the GCSE course. This is why there are built in opportunities to cover different aspects of interpretations. Here your students will rate a 1930s Armada movie for accuracy.

Making assessment workable and useful

Schools are obsessed with generating data to track progress. Fact. Whether it makes any difference to pupil progress is arguable.

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 across the entire course and across lots of different types of questions.

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

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

The stepped approach to our enquiries will allow you to check learning. Mini plenarys are built in for this reason.

It is also 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.  Short, sharpe knowledge tests are also important in cementing in the substantive knowledge.

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

It is suggested that the detailed marking of one to two end products happens every six weeks.

Build in opportunities for peer and self-marking for some of the other written outcomes. Students need to be trained to mark their own work.  This will help keep workload manageable.

The end products / assessment opportunities 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 use 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.

Note: this British Depth Study should incorporate the environmental unit – this is not included in the SOW and you are encouraged to ensure that your own teaching covers this requirement.

This is what the AQA specification says about teaching the environmental unit:

The historic environment is 10% of the overall course, which equates to approximately 12 hours out of 120 guided learning hours.

Students will be examined on a speci c site in depth. This site will be as speci ed and will be changed annually. The site will relate to the content of the rest of this depth study. It is intended that study of different historic environments will enrich students’ understanding of Elizabethan England.

There is no requirement to visit the specified site. Teachers may wish to visit a similar site in their locality to inform their teaching, however no reward will be given in the assessment for visiting the specified site or any other site.The study of the historic environment will focus on a particular site in its historical context and should examine the relationship between a specific place and associated historical events and developments.

Students will be expected to answer a question that draws on second order concepts of change, continuity, causation and/or consequence, and to explore them in the context of the speci ed site and wider events and developments of the period studied.

Students should be able to identify key features of the speci ed site and understand their connection to the wider historical context of the speci c historical period. Sites will also illuminate how people lived at the time, how they were governed and their beliefs and values.

The following aspects of the site should be considered:

  • location
  • function
  • the structure
  • people connected with the site eg the designer, originator and occupants
  • design
  • how the design re ects the culture, values, fashions of the people at the time
  • how important events/developments from the depth study are connected to the site.

Students will be expected to understand the ways in which key features and other aspects of the site are representative of the period studied. In order to do this, students will also need to be aware of how the key features and other aspects of the site have changed from earlier periods.

Students will also be expected to understand how key features and other aspects may have changed or stayed the same during the period.

The numbers in the brackets below further relate to other parts of the depth study for which the historic environment is relevant.

 We recommend that you teach the lessons in the order specified in the History Resource Cupboard scheme of work.

Download Scheme of Work

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History Resource Cupboard


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