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KS4 History - Testing Hypotheses



This lesson shows how students of all abilities engage with higher-order historical concepts.

Jonothan Howson's mixed ability class are asked to test a hypothesis about President John F Kennedy's role in the Cuban Missile Crisis, using sources and constructing alternative accounts.

The structure of the lesson runs as follows:

  • Pupils examine the language of a statement by Arthur Schlesinger Junior which praises Kennedy, and build lists of alternative words
  • Jonathan then shows Kennedy's television address to the nation and the class discusses his strategy
  • Small groups analyse archive sources, including Kennedy's doodles
  • Finally, pupils write alternative accounts of Kennedy's performance

Jonathan concludes that pupils' progress over the series of lessons moves from them not knowing anything about the Crisis, to being able to critically evaluate a popular understanding and construct their own accounts.


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