Shelley

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Another week, another school. This afternoon Nic and I have been down at St Mary Redcliffe School (http://www.smrt.bristol.sch.uk/) to meet the Head of History there.

We had an excellent meeting talking about the project, trialling it there and, more importantly, about the ways in which we might develop it in the future to meet the needs of schools. This idea of working with teachers to develop the model into a long-term, sustainable and flexible teaching space has been growing since the summer. The creation of a virtual space in which Bristol school students could work together between schools on various aspects of Victorian or Roman history is an exciting prospect.

In the meantime, back in 2012 on the impact trail, we talked about shaping a project that would develop over several off-timetable sessions with selected Year 9 students, with the probable outcome of asking them at the end to use what they have learned through the project to guide Year 7s (who are studying the Romans) around the house. This way, we can get qualitative feedback from both year groups, reporting back on different modes of experiencing the model and both we and the staff at SMRT can observe the students’ engagement and use that as a platform from which to shape possible collaborations in future years. Working over several sessions, we can grant the students enough time to ‘play’ in/with the model, work with their avatars and absorb the ideas we are presenting through the model and the activities we’ll be devising for and with them.

One of the particular aspects of history-learning that the Head of History was concerned with was that of interpretation. Students easily grasp facts and narratives but find more analytical and critical approaches more difficult to conceptualise and adopt. In particular, his concerns and ours best met around what lies at the core of our model, the demonstration of constant re-invention of the historic past through successive generations of it.

Getting out into schools and having these kinds of conversations is really exciting. Although each school has a slightly different objective, we are really beginning to see the ways in which the model and the techniques we use to enliven it could impact upon teaching practice in the schools around us and have a very real effect on the ways in which students understand their relationship with the past.

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