Following on from yesterday’s How I taught Y11 today, here’s one for Y9. I am not – repeat, not – going to do one of these every day for the next week, but I did want to show just what I mean by “consistency of approach”.

This group is very keen, with only a few reluctant speakers. We start GCSE in Y9, although we’ve chosen to preface their study of Nazi Germany with the story of Weimar Germany for the first half-term.

9:50 – Welcome all in silence. Some are slightly late as they’ve come from PE. There’s late from PE, and then there’s “I’m late ‘cos I had PE”. None of the latter today. They all have a chart which shows the rising number of unemployed in Germany from 1928-1932, alongside the number of seats the Nazis gained in the election years. They have to firstly write what they see, and then what they think this all might mean. They already know about the Wall St Crash and that Hitler was appointed Chancellor in 1933, so this is a task designed to help them recall information as well as approach sources of information in a logical fashion. Too many look at a source and say, “I don’t know”, when they should instead focus on what is obvious first: numbers, dates, names, places, the provenance, the medium, etc.

9:57 – After a short discussion I talk and they make notes as specifically directed by me. We use the Cornell system. Again, a little of this they already know, but there’s more which they don’t, or would otherwise have to infer. I don’t want them to infer here: I need them to know.

We also reinforce some longer-term causal links through whole-group answers. And what was the nickname given to those who signed the armistice? “November Criminals!” And they later signed the treaty of  … “Versailles!” And Hitler gave the government the nickname of the … “Weimar Republic!” And so on.

10:10 – They all have a Nazi propaganda poster, produced in 1932. I want them to use the same technique as they did at the start to annotate this. The difference is that I also now want them to add their own knowledge, based on what I’ve just told them.

10:15 – I tell them what I’ve noticed, annotating my own version in front of them. What else have they noticed? And so what might that mean? What might it imply? What might it suggest? Lots of answers, picked mainly – though not exclusively – through cold call. Lots of praise, too, but also a ‘right is right’ approach: it’s one thing to infer a point, but it’s another to make a completely invalid point. “Why did you think that? Millie, do you agree? Why not? Ah! So can you see why … Yes, fab.”

10:23 –  Question: What can Source A tell us about why Hitler became Chancellor? I show them a model answer I’ve already written. I read through, picking out what it is I have done by highlighting and drawing out the parts where I’ve clearly answered the question. I make clear the phrases I want them to use, as well as how I might include the answers to several questions (when was it produced? Who produced it? Why was it produced?) in one show sentence, for example. I take away the example and they write for nine minutes.

10:40 – Stop writing. Let’s look at my example again. Using a different coloured pen they add anything which they now realise they’ve missed with my model answer as the basis. This makes it clear what they didn’t include the first time around, so when I zip through their books, either at the time or later, it’s also obvious to me.

10:45 – There’s a short written source I want to finish with. Again, I want them to annotate and work out the main message, but this time much more quickly. My thinking is that they should now be able to do this more successfully because a) they have more knowledge, and b) they know how to approach the piece: where’s it come from, what does it say – now, what does it mean? This takes a couple of minutes, leaving one minute to summarise: “That’s right – bored young men, with nothing to do and no hope. So who might they turn to in their desperation? Ah! So can we now see why …?”

10:50 – Pack away. I ask for hands up from those who, like me, forgot to open their calendars this morning: 90% of hands shoot up to tell me absolutely anything about their chocolate. Fun – tick!

How different is this to the Y11 lesson? Well, it isn’t really. I can, hopefully, rely on more knowledge with my Y11s, but the  approach is the same. I don’t treat different classes that differently at all, though there are exceptions: that Y11 class from yesterday need a bit more gee-ing up, whilst I have a Y7 class that need calming down, such is their blood-lust for the Maya at the moment.

Again, it’s straightforward. Again: it’s not fancy, it’s not dry; it’s just teaching.

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