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Series stuff

Thinking through History file: Britain 1066-1500 Folens pound;39.95 each

Strategies for Active History and Thinking Skills at KS3 are support files of activities for all abilities to develop active thinking skills in line with the KS3 national strategy. This one covers communication, war, government, health, crime, and town and country with easily photocopiable worksheets.

There is a wide range of new ideas here - games (medieval crime - deciding the guilt or innocence of characters with rolls of the dice), role-play (discussion of a town charter) and superb card sorts and differentiated writing frames (particularly the tasks about Hastings).

I cannot stress enough how invaluable this folder has proven to be. It has given an old hand's lessons new vibrancy, aided an NQT, provided last-minute work for emergency cover and held the hand of a history non-specialist. My only worry is when I put my miserable financial head on - what of my photocopying bill?

My War Hodder Wayland pound;10.99 each

This series is a refreshingly different approach among the huge number of texts on the market covering the Second World War . Each book uses eyewitness accounts and personal stories to cover the different perspectives people had on the war (for example the series includes land girls, evacuees and RAF pilots).

There are some great stories included here, from poor little evacuee Alan having his tonsils out on the kitchen table to RAF sergeant Tom being too scared to face his mother after drinking three pints. There are photographs at the front of the book showing how the authors looked then and now - a wonderful idea, which will encourage children to ask questions of their own relatives. This book is most suitable for KS2 or KS3 SEN.

Questioning History Hodder Wayland pound;12.99 each

These texts examine people and key events through history and put forward interesting "What if?" ideas. The difficult vocabulary and dense appearance of the pages make them unsuitable for all, but they would provide food for thought for the more able at KS3 and interesting extension activities at KS4.

Investigating History Hodder amp; Stoughton pound;7.99 each (paperback)

This series of KS3 classroom texts comes in standard and foundation editions. They are well laid out with most activities being on a double-page spread with good "Think about it" questions at the end of each unit. They are brightly illustrated and encourage comparison between then and now. A set of these would ease differentiation and provide a good framework for any unit of work. Worth buying a set.

World Wars Hodder Wayland pound;12.99 each

This series is a mix of factual narrative eyewitness accounts and web links illustrated with some great photos. They are good, solid books that would be useful for topic work at KS3 and background reading for KS4 coursework.

Leading Lives Heinemann pound;11.99 each

This biography series covers the lives of famous men and women. It is a fascinating mix of their public and private lives and stresses their importance without resorting to sycophantic fawning - not easy when covering such controversial figures as Oliver Cromwell and Malcolm X. They provide great lists of websites and wider reading suitable for more able students and would be very useful for topic work.

The Holocaust Heinemann Library pound;11.99 each

This series is extensive, and the texts I read - The Aftermath of the Holocaust and Art, Music and Writings from the Holocaust - were impressive in the way they tackled difficult topics with sensitivity. They explore Jewish culture and the strength of the Jewish community, going beyond the image of the Jewish people as tragic victims. It makes us see those murdered in the Holocaust as individuals with families, jobs, hopes and ambitions through pictures, diaries, love songs and lullabies. An important and admirable body of work.

Witness To History Heinemann Library pound;11.99 each

These texts involve questioning the reliability of historical documents on topics such as the world wars and the Industrial and French revolutions.

They give descriptions of events from different perspectives and encourage students to analyse the sources for reliability and bias. They are quite difficult but would be good preparation for talented historians before embarking on GCSE.

Becky Hewlitt is head of history at Windsor High School, Halesowen, West Midlands;NIPgt; uk

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