Making it stick is hard – try ‘Starter for ten’!

With the return to two year linear exams at GCSE and A Level, history teachers face even more of a challenge to help students to learn and retain knowledge and understanding so that they can perform well in the exam hall. This requires us to keep on finding engaging and memorable ways to teach content. Here is an idea developed for A Level, that could be adapted for use with GCSE students…

Trying to make Tudor foreign policy exciting can be a difficult task. However, on a November Friday afternoon if you came into my year 12 history lesson you will have noticed a real buzz (quite literally)! I created a University Challenge style task to help assess students understanding and recall the foreign policy successes of Henry VII. Buzzers were borrowed from the Maths Department (with thanks) and the scene was set for an exciting episode in the lesson.

To develop it further, after completing the planned 6 rounds, I then challenged each team to write five questions of their own to ask the other team. Again points were available and the competition really hotted up. Students loved the competitive element of the game. Each team were desperate to control the round and gain points. The ability to confer with team members in the rounds created opportunities for high level dialogue between students.  Feedback from students after the lesson was extremely positive. Students said they loved the sense of competition and it really helped them review their learning from the lesson.

Helping students to take responsibility for their own learning is crucial is students are to achieve at the highest levels of GCSE and A Level History. The Historical Association has a Student Zone that will also help with this. For example, there are podcasts by leading historians designed for students on the popular GCSE and A Level topics. You can view these here: . Teachers can also get more help to get their students knowledge to stick here: . Do follow the HA on Twitter @histassoc for more updates, to send comments and to share ideas.


Thanks to Elisabeth Page for this post.


One thought on “Making it stick is hard – try ‘Starter for ten’!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s