PRACTICAL HISTORY Edited by James Nash Stanley Thornes Pounds 42.50. - 001356 770 5 Age range 11-16.
The past few years have been a tough time for history teachers and textbook publishers. This is the term when they can breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that things are not going to change for five years, and that some serious long-term planning can be done. Into this calmed sea, Stanley Thornes has launched Practical History, a subscription series of support materials for history teachers who want to expand their range of standard textbooks.
Practical History is a termly pack of practical worksheets and schemes of work for the busy teacher. Each issue consists of six to eight units, containing photocopiable lesson-ready material that is intended to build up into a handy departmental resource.
As well as material for the classroom, units discussing pedagogical practice, assessment techniques and the structuring of study units are planned.
The first issue (including free binder) concentrates on overviews of different topics within study units. Industrialisation and political developments (Britain 1750-1900) and the legacy of the Second World War are covered in three of the units, while an in-depth study on London's growth is included in the making of the United Kingdom unit, along with a role-play exercise on the Wall Street crash.
The remaining unit looks at teaching and assessment under the revised national curriculum and suggests objectives based on the key elements that will help teachers plan lessons and provide a positive assessment scheme in which pupils can play a part.
The activities provided as photocopiable masters are of good quality and the publishers have attracted authors such as Chris Culpin, Philip Sauvain and Neil Tonge. Some of the questions are of the standard textbook type and although a little more open than the worksheets that a teacher might prepare, there is a real attempt to provide differentiation.
What is impressive is the care that has been taken to help the teacher pick up the material and use it at once. Introductions to each unit explain clearly the aims and objectives of the activity, making the teacher feel more like a partner in the exercise. Indeed, one of the series' aims is to involve subscribers in what is published every term.
The opportunity to provide material that is teacher-led and reflects a range of teaching techniques in history, offers great potential to both the specialist and non-specialist history teacher.