Web 2.0 and teaching history

This article is the sort of thing I was talking about at a recent PGCE session at the Oxford University Department of Educational Studies.


Blogging with Students

The importance of blogging, and the related idea of users of the web creating their own web is only now becoming clear. I’ve been using the internet since 1992, for learning and leisure, and for teaching since 2002. It is only in the last few months that I’ve realized its power as a collaborative teaching and learning tool.

This year I’ve been creating, along with my class, a record of my year 13 Cold War Course, which started as a way of helping my student’s learning to be less passive. I was concerned that my students could come to lessons, listen to me teaching, attempt some activities and then leave the lesson, without really engaging with the history, and without feeling the need to look at the notes until revision started (if it did at all!).

Continue reading Web 2.0 and teaching history

Off we go!

Right – questions sharpened, background explained – post is ready to go.

I’m going to make the following post on the TES history Webboard, the boards at the Education Forum and at www.schoolhistory.co.uk.


I’m researching the impact on the teaching and learning in my year 13 class of my ideas about what “historical interpretations” means.

I’ve got an idea that what I think interpretations means differs greatly from what my students think it means (if they think about it at all!).

I also have an idea that my professional peers have individual conceptions of that term and that I’d learn a lot from you, if you’d be kind enough to share your views with me.

Could you spare a couple of minutes to offer some thoughts on some or all of the following? I’d be forever grateful. I will be using your answers as the basis of some analysis for my PGDip in Teaching and Learning History. I may quote from what you say, but will obviously not reveal identities.

You can reply to this post if you wish, or email me any answers directly at

Edwardpodesta*googelmail.com (put an @ instead of the * to email me)

Thank you very much for your time in reading this post.

Ed Podesta


What questions do you ask of interpretations?

What are the problems or pitfalls that students seem to have when thinking about interpretations?

Why do we study interpretations?

What types of interpretations do you study with your students? Why do you use those types of interpretation?

Is it important to study different types of interpretations? Why?

How does the study of interpretations change through KS3 to KS5?

How can we secure progression in the study of ‘interpretations’?

If a student asked you “what do you mean by ‘interpretations’”?, what would your reply be?

Review 16th November 2005

So, after a brief hiatus in study to allow for OFSTED, marking Fasttrack and generally things getting in the way of the good stuff!

To do:

Read the teacher’s research guide to see what I need to do in respect of interviewing

Interviewing: Teachers, with the aim of finding out about how teachers teach interpretations across KS 3, 4 and 5.

Questions for interview:

What questions do we ask of interpretations?

What are the problems or pitfalls that students have when thinking about interpretations?

Why do we study interpretations? Why do we study different types of interpretations?

How does the study of interpretations change? How can we secure progression in the study of interpretations?

Post on the TES website, to ask similar questions

Subject officer

Speak to subject officer to ask these questions.

Vermeulen – What is Progress in History T.H no.98 pp.35-41

Vermeulen’s piece is based on two main points – the interplay between skills and knowledge and the rejection of a linear form of progression.

According to Vermeulen, getting better at history is getting better at judgement. Historial judgement is made in the “interplay” between propositional and procedural historical knowledge. Propositional knowledge is the “know that” of history, of the narrative of history “underpinned” by understanding of concepts of historical study. Procedural knowledge is the “know how” of history, which Vermeulen casually lists as “evidence” and “communication skills”.

It is when talking about the “concepts” of history that Vermeulen most clearly rejects linear models of progression. Vermeulen claims that progress here means increasingly complex understanding (reflecting Lee and Shemilt’s “stronger misconceptions”) of historical concepts and claims that progress is made in a spider’s web pattern, presumeably with new information, being secured, forming a node in the increasingly sophisticated pattern of a specific historical concept. Later in the article Vermeulen makes clear a rejection of the discrete skill domains of linear progression models for assessing individual pupils.

Vermeulen relates how research which used deductive thinking methods when assessing the abiility of children to understand the “skills” of history are pessimistic about Children’s abilities, whereas those who used inductive methods of teaching (such as discussion) found that children could be helped to make complex and sophisticaed use of evidence.

Inductive teaching methods for “skills” might link with Vermeulen’s ideas for teaching understanding of historical concepts or “know that”. Vermeulen stresses the need for revisiting similar concepts. A strong link between inductive teaching of skills and re-visiting historical concepts might be be a process of inductive repetative personal exploration rather than a re-visit to secure the level a pupil reached last time. A further link might be found in her emphasis on regularities and similarities of history, through which pupils understanding of concepts acquire “increasing complexity” and the need for “deliberate” creation of patterns of similarity.

Having rejected linear models she says that they can nevertheless be useful in planning, but doesn’t really explain how. In respect of planning she offers two broad strategies – firstly an emphasis on “meta-understading” -“an understanding of how history works” borrowing from Bourdillon. This meta understanding is to be attained by “deconstruction” of narratives and sources to show how history works.

the harried autodidact

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