Sense of period – using an individual story to build a picture of a period

This term in Year 8 we are looking at the changing nature of power in the 17th century attempting a grand Whig style narrative of the century covering the Civil War, Cromwell, Restoration and the Glorious Revolution. To kick off the scheme of work we needed to establish a sense of period for the 17th century. This puzzled me for a long time as I wanted to try move away from the visual card sort style activities I’d used to establish sense of period for the Medieval unit.

https://i2.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/c2/Gunpowder_Plot_conspirators.jpg/800px-Gunpowder_Plot_conspirators.jpg

Discussing this heavily with our PGCE student Kate we came up with the idea of learning about the Gunpowder Plot – this was especially a good idea as it was topical as November 5th had been the previous week – to teach a sense of period. Using the story to establish the nature of power and religion at the start of the 17th century so that we could refer back to this to evaluate change and continuity in future lessons.

The lesson (all ideas were Kate’s) began with images of Bonfire Night to hook the kids in and then gave a detailed narrative of 1604, getting the kids to retell their own version of the story (narrative creation is the loose focus of the scheme of work). This is often where a bog standard history lesson might end but instead the kids were then asked to think about what the story tells us about the period in relation to king, parliament and religion. This worked well with kids explaining that the king clearly had ultimate power, that religion was obviously very divisive at this time and people would go to extremes to fight for it.

Using this individual story to teach sense of period was effective. Obviously the success of this is down to the story you choose but with careful consideration this is a method I hope to return to later. If you have any stories you believe would introduce another period please do add your comments below.

 

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