Some Ideas about Teaching


Over more than 30 years of teaching I developed a whole boatload of prejudices about how to teach and tricks-that-work in the classroom, and recently I have dared to share them with other History teachers on the History Teachers' Discussion Forum.


All over the country, teachers are having ideas, developing practice, writing position papers, finding solutions ... re-inventing the wheel.   And what they do gets lost, because they have hitherto lacked the means, and maybe still lack the confidence, to let others see their ideas.   Well here - for what they are worth - are my ideas.


Do I credit them with any great weight?   Probably not, I fear.   I can't say that there is any deep pedagogical philosophy underlying them.   I can't promise that they will work in your school, or impress the Ofsted inspectors.   I sincerely hope that when you read them you will feel that you can improve on them, or at least adapt them to your particular situation.



So they are offered - humbly - for you to try out, reject, adapt and challenge at your will:


●   Ideas about General Teaching Issues

●   Ideas on the Teaching of History

●   Teaching History to Special Needs Pupils

●   Discipline in the History Classroom

●   How to use this website in your teaching




Ideas about General Teaching Issues


Issues fundamental to all teaching:

1.   Amazing Teacher!

2.   Becoming a Teacher

3.   Surviving

4.   A Framework for Teaching

5.   Planning Lessons

6.   Assessment for Learning

7.   Planning Your Scheme of Work

8.   A 'Normal' lesson

9    Writing Reports

10. Homework

11. Whole-School Improvement

12. A Checklist for teachers

13. A Checklist for Heads of Department

14. Struggling with Self-Evaluation

15. The Last Word



Ideas on The Teaching of History


In October 2012, I was asked to deliver INSET for South Tyneside schools on 'Making Your GCSE Lessons More Fun'.  Unfortunately, it wasn't the start of a lucrative lecture tour, but the teachers on the day seemed to like it! These are the ideas I presented:

    Making Your Lessons Fun


In August 2011, I was asked to write the 'Expert blog' for the Hodder History Nest.

I chose the theme: 'What sort of history should school history be?' and thought you might be interested to read what I said:

1.  History is a discourse

2.  The importance of being ... argumentative

3.  Mr Gove and the Return of Facts

4.  Selecting the facts = choosing the History you want

5.  MrSchama's Dream

6.  Autism and the Primacy of Analysis

7.  How Enid Blyton changed my life

8.  The Invisible Man

9.  Indoctrination and the Pedagogy of the Individual

10. Fraught with danger and pedagogically shallow?

11. A few urgencies about interpretations

12. The misinterpretation of interpretations

13. Working with interpretations

14. Historiographers I: The Whig foundation

15. Historiographers II: The Marxist challenge

16. Historiographers III: The Advent of Postmodernism

17. Historiographers IV: A Postmodernism Glossary

18. Historiographers V: A Postmodernism Glossary continued

19. What postmodernism means for Mr Gove

20. A plea for empathy

21. Eyewitness

22. The importance of being interesting

23. Historiography, Mr Gove and the new National Curriculum History


And here are some earlier thoughts on planning and delivering History lessons:

1.   Teaching Objectives and Lesson Outcomes

2.   Literacy Objectives

3.   Starters

4.   The 'Blind Walk' - a quality starter

5.   Teaching History using Analogy

6.   Teaching how to do Sourcework Questions

7.   Developing better Written exercises at Key Stage 3

8.   Writing Styles

9.   Writing Poetry in the History Classroom

10. Using Drama in the History Classroom

11. Teaching Mixed Ability at GCSE

12. GCSE Exam 'Warm-Up' Sessions

13. Publicising History - quotes

14. Publicising History - jobs


Random 'rants' about aspects of 'History-Teaching-as-required':

15. Sources and Interpretations

16. Facts and the Teaching of History

17. The Myth of 'Chronology'

18. At the end of the day...



Teaching History to Special Needs Pupils


Articles about various aspects of teaching History to SN pupils:

1.   Teaching Special Needs - A Short Foreword

2.   Teaching Special Needs Classes

3.   Reading for Understanding - 'every which way but'

4.   Mr Clare's 'Ten-Minute Write'

5.   Teaching Dyslexic Pupils

6.   Helping Dyslexic Pupils Revise

7.   Teaching Autistic Pupils

8.   Brain Function and Children's Behaviour



Discipline in the History Classroom


Discipline is just a facilitator for the much-harder job of teaching History, but it's an issue that many young teachers worry about, and which crops up regularly on the Forum.   These replies all address different perspectives of the problem:

1.   Discipline for What?

2.   Controlling Difficult Classes

3.   Quiz - How Much Am I to Blame?

4.   Strategies which work with Year 11

5.   Two problems about Boys and some possible solutions

6.   Starting Off As You Mean To Go On

7.   When the Going Gets Tough

8.   The Key to a Disciplined School



How might I use this website in my teaching?


This website is used primarily by pupils as a revision site for Modern World Studies GCSE History - especially immediately before the GCSE exams!


the site receives more almost 3 million visits a year (2012).  One in ten visitors to the site spends longer than 30 minutes on it, so it is used intensively and actively.

However, the website is increasingly being used as a vehicle for teaching by:
  Parents who have withdrawn their pupils from school and educating them at home;
  Teachers who are using the materials with their classes.
  Some of the elements on offer are also good for homeworks.

So whilst in no way wishing to be patronising, I wondered whether educators might welcome ideas on how to use this website in their teaching:

1.   Using this website in your lessons

2.   Using this website for homeworks

3.   Using this website for revision