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1 October 2017

A gentle introduction to historical interpretations for Year 7

This week I am introducing my new and enthusiastic Year 7s to historical interpretations.  We're going to be embarking on a unit of study called "Were the Vikings just violent raiders?"  By the end of the unit, I'd like them to achieve the following:

- Have some understanding of what an interpretation is and how they are created
- Understand the link between interpretations and the evidence upon which they are based
- Be able to critically evaluate an interpretation of the Vikings in view of its content, purpose and its link to the available evidence

In the first lesson of the unit, I will begin by telling them what they are going to be investigating over the next few lessons.  Then I'll ask them to create an interpretation of their own by drawing a Viking.  Hopefully this will function as a nice hook, and then we will share our images looking for common themes.

Then I'll talk to them about what an interpretation is.  We'll establish that the drawings they made at the start of the lesson were simple interpretations, and I'll make a link to what it means to get better at 'doing history'.  This slide links to my classroom displays on historical concepts which you can download HERE.

Then we will have a look at an artist's interpretation of the Vikings from a children's magazine in the 1970s.  We'll talk about the content of the image and share some ideas about why the painter produced such an interpretation.  At the end of the unit of work, my students will return to this image and critically evaluate this image.

Next up, I want my students to recognise that new versions of the past are being created all the time by historians.  We will read two historians' interpretations of the Vikings and then students will create a little roleplay interview with one of them.  My own experience suggests that roleplaying interviews like this helps students to grasp the idea that historians have different views about the past.

After that, we'll watch a few of the roleplays as a past, and discuss what the main areas of disagreement are.  Then we'll consider whether there are any overlaps or areas of agreement.  This will be followed by a short piece of comparative writing.

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