Planning a Project

The census of 2011 and the release of the 1911 census provides schools with an opportunity to study a current issue in the context of the past. The core of this project is the use of ICT to support historical enquiry so that children could develop their literacy skills, knowledge and understanding.

The intention is to use the free access to the 1911 census website as the basis of the work. It is suggested that schools select somewhere in their immediate locality that interests them most and set their investigation in a known locality.

The suggestion of a six week long project follows the pattern of previously successful cross-curricular project-based learning. If it is possible begin with an immersion day that grabs the interest of the children and prompts an enquiry question that can form the spine of the work for the rest of the project. A simple but effective immersion day could involve children visiting a local place, making the most of the walk to and from the place of interest.

In the morning of the immersion day we suggest the children are involved in four activities or workshops and in the afternoon they are led in sessions that provide an introduction to their investigation or perhaps literacy work. Wherever possible we suggest you try and provide your children with a mystery, key question, issue, challenge or dilemma.  In Brook village the children, working as history detectives had to work out how the village had changed. In Canterbury they had to write a story about a mystery, using historical fact as the basis of their fictional writing.

In the five weeks that follow we suggest children write their stories using a wide range of different sources of information, ICT tools and equipment. Previous projects have been memorable because of the seamless use of ICT at every stage by both teachers and pupils. The work by class teachers can enable the children to: research, record details of their visits and researches using digital media; make their own podcasts; write their stories and publish them online and make full use of local experts if they have the time to join the project.

The opportunity to use a massive database, the 1911 census website, is a unique opportunity enabling children to use a complex source with a specific purpose. It will also allow the children to discover how to set questions, research and answer those questions whilst bringing together historical evidence from other places. The National Monuments Record provides and extensive collection of illustrative material whilst The National Archives has enormous documentary resources for use by the children, Each organization also has very supportive staff. Consultation with local experts, libraries and archives could add an extra dimension to the excitement of the enquiries.

The resources available for this project and for the children are significant. They have the chance to investigate Edwardian Britain and their own locality. They will be able to investigate using real historical sources to help them put together a fuller understanding and knowledge of the past.

This will make a major contribution to their understanding of the process of enquiry, what can be learnt about the past and the provisional nature of some of the evidence.

It is hoped that both teachers and pupils will find the project based structure useful and effective for framing significant historical investigation, providing not just ‘excellence and enjoyment’ but also an improvement in children’s writing. The effective use of ICT does make a difference by helping the development of new skills and a stimulus to extended writing and exposition. For the teachers we hope the frame work is seen as being useful, effective and transferable.

pdf Link to planning sheet template (pdf)
pdf Link to Brook school planning sheet as an example (pdf)