Visiting 1780

I was looking for a new way of kicking off the year 12 AS British History course which I teach, when I remembered an interview I’d read somewhere, by someone, saying something about the 1780s (the start of the course). After some Googling [1. First time I’ve really had to think about what search terms to use and how to structure the search itself. Probably another blog post there…] I tracked down the interview. It was in the Guardian, and just happened to be with one of my favourite authors, David Mitchell.
In the interview, he was asked the question “If you could go back in time, where would you go?” He replied:
With money, a bodyguard and a rock-hard immune system, all over the world in the 1780s.
Now, I love this for two reasons.

Firstly it gave me an excellent new question to ask. It became one of the things that yrs 7, 8 or 9 could add to their name labels (alongside their name they could also add a favourite person, period, or a historic place they’d visited). It also became the first assignment on Edmodo for my KS4 and 5 classes to get them (and me) used to handing in homework on the platform.

Secondly it gave me a great new starter lesson.

I threw the quote up on the board and we brainstormed questions that the quote triggers (what happen? where? why money? what would happen without money? why a ‘rock -hard immune system? if you couldn’t go everywhere, where are the top three places to visit…)

Working in groups of four students had access to a stack of textbooks (both A level and key stage 3) to try and answer as many questions as they could. My plan to let them loose on the netbooks was foiled by the fact that the post-summer reboot took more than the whole of the lesson to finish!

They then added all their information to a giant flipchart paper in the middle of the room, which became the focus of our debrief, which I led and they filled in the blanks for each other.

A great start to the year, and one for next year as well.

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