The Old Lady in the Post Office – how to teach writing a strong line of argument to any key stage

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If you’re finding it difficult to teach students in any Key Stage what an argued piece of writing that offers a substantiated judgement looks like, you need to meet someone. She’s called the Old Lady in the Post Office and nothing I’ve tried has been more effective in helping students understand what a line of argument looks like when it runs throughout an essay. Here is the monologue as a PPT: The Old Lady in the Post Office . It has a screen and handout version.

Inspired by the work of Daisy Christodoulou, and her argument that we can teach and formatively assess specific elements within longer pieces of writing, the Old Lady is an attempt to characterise the line of argument, helping students self- and peer-assess this particular element of writing judgement essays in History.

The task is simple – the student with the best ‘Old Lady’ voice reads out the argument and the other students have to identify the core problem she has with the Post Office. They can then identify how she acknowledges subsidiary factors and how she brings them into her argument and builds her opinion from start to finish.

Once they have done this ten-minute task, they are able to identify the line of argument in their own and other essays by answering questions like ‘Can you ‘hear’ the Old Lady coming through?’ and ‘Has she got a clear answer to this question?’ Consequently students are far quicker at identifying their own and other lines of argument.

Bonus Tip 1: To exemplify a ‘real historian’ doing this, look no further than The Old Man in the Army Uniform. He can be found presenting an argued case about the causes of the American Civil War on YouTube for Prager University. (YouTube clip)

Bonus Tip 2: This characterisation of a line of argument as the ‘Old Lady in the Post Office’ is showing promising signs in the task of analysing written interpretations and looking for the overarching interpretation. It seems particularly useful for distinguishing between the interpretation and the evidence offered in support of it.

Hugh Richards

for YorkClio in Feb 2018

Madeleine Blaess’ diary: York woman in Nazi occupied Paris

This is a developing project. Madeleine Blaess was born in France, but grew up in Acomb and went to the Bar Convent School (now All Saints). She was trapped in Paris during the Nazi occupation and wrote a diary recording everyday life under occupation. She managed not to be interned, by pretending to be French. Two of her friends were murdered in Auschwitz. After the war she was an academic in Medieval French Literature at the University of Sheffield. The diary was revealed among her papers, which she left to the university when she died in 2013.  This was left to the University of Sheffield at her death.

The University of Sheffield are working on these papers and the diary is shortly to be publisned open access at White Rose University Press (which itself is something YorkClio folk should know about!) There is also a 35 minute film on its way.

This promises to be a fantastic way for York History and French teachers to connect a local story to a much bigger story that is commonly taught. We hope to develop the connection with this project further.

When did William conquer England?

Now there’s a big question for a Friday afternoon! Attached here are a couple of resources that you can use to help students decide. Hugh, who developed these, recommends a dramatic intro for each scenario:

  • Was it when he was out of breath on the top of Senlac Hill?
  • Was it as he sat smugly in the charred remains of York Minster?
  • Or was it…?

Students create a situation report for each scenario. When did William Conquer England

And, in case you need it, a crib sheet to get you started: MASTER – When did William Conquer England

Diversity resources for busy teachers

Whose Histories?: Helping busy History teachers keep their curriculum diverse

This short guide has been created by the University of York’s PGCE history trainees in a morning session where they thought about diversity and explored what resources are available. It contains some general principles and ideas for making lessons more diverse, with links to resources. It is not intended to be exhaustive, but to be a contribution to help busy teachers.

whose-histories-diversity-in-history-lessons

AQA GCSE revision materials

Picture1-750x430A HUGE thanks to Henry Walton and the Manor CE Academy team for sharing their revision notes and knowledge tests for their AQA modules. Henry has more detailed notes he can share locally if you get in touch with him.

Conflict and tension MQTs combined

WW1 Revision sheets combined

USA MQTs combined

USA Revision sheets combined

Ed I revision sheets combined

Medieval England MQTs combined

PatP MQTs combined

PatP revision sheets combined

 

Black abolitionists in York!

How much do you know about black abolitionists campaigning in the UK against slavery? No, neither did we until we came across this great mapping project on @twitter! Mapping black abolitionists’ speaking tours in the UK There are several people who came to speak in York. Some are hard to place, but three were in what is now the Fulford School catchment area!

World War One in the local area free resources

We are so lucky in York to have active and inspired local history societies. The Clements Hall Local History Group have had a lottery grant for their local World War One project. They have used it so brilliantly! The research they have done has all been published online – though there are also some hard copies of certain booklets. We can share it with you here: Clements Hall LHG World War One resources This site really is worth a look for all history teachers, but especially those around York. You will find films about a zeppelin raid and conscientious objectors. There are first hand accounts from soldiers, sailors and airmen. The role of women is explored. There is detail about how local churches, schools and organisations got through the conflict. There is also a lovely section on the Rowntree memorial Park. You can see the Quaker influence in the memorial text and it would make a lovely intro to the mood with which many greeted the founding of the League of Nations.

This park and the adjoining playing fields were given to the city by Rowntree & Co. Ltd to the memory of those members of the company’s staff who at the cost of life and limb or health and in the face of inconsiderable suffering and hardship served their country in her hour of need. Many were inspired by the faith that this war might be the end of war – that victory would lead to an enduring peace and to greater happiness for the peoples of the world. The creation of the League of Nations will be a fitting crown to the faith and hope of the men who have fought and a true memorial to their endurance, heroism, comradeship and sacrifice.”

Do have a look elsewhere on the site for other nice local history resources that would be useful for a KS3 history club.

Fulford, Fishergate and Heslington Local History group are also tracing all the men on four of their local war memorials. They have also done some work on the military buildings in their area. Here is their link: FFH Local History Group WW1

We are really grateful for all the time, effort, enthusiasm and skill that has gone into putting these resources together.

The Process of History display

A lovely resource that is being shared by our friends at Huntington School. Inspired by hearing Ian Dawson at the Northern History Forum, it makes a great corridor display: Process of History Display.  Why not book for the Northern History Forum coming up on Weds 22nd Nov at Leeds Trinity? Book here! The sessions don’t start til 5pm, after social time, so there is time to get over from York after school.

‘Doing History’ – display and ex book versions

Here are links to a classroom display and exercise book version of ‘Doing History’. It is designed to explain to pupils what we do in history. Thanks to Hugh Richards for initiating and driving this work in consultation with many people. Doing History, Exercise book edition    Doing History 2017 display