To wonder what year 7 pupils get from building a castle model

(196 Posts)
Verycold Sat 07-Dec-13 11:23:09

In history? What is the point?? How does it actually improve their higher level history skills?

DoYouLikeMyBaubles Sat 07-Dec-13 11:26:12

It's a fun task, they'll probably learn teamwork. Maybe they've had to do research into how castles were built structurally and this is the 'fun' bit afterwards?

Verycold Sat 07-Dec-13 11:29:56

Not sure I agree with the fun task bit... And understanding what castles looked like seems more like primary level to me?

manicinsomniac Sat 07-Dec-13 11:31:39

of a motte and bailey castle? I have fond memories of making mine - I get to eat lots of icelollies which I certainly considered a benefit.

It was a fun project. It helped me remember all the parts of it I suppose.

Not everything has to improve higher level skills at age 11!

My year 7s have to write document analysis essays and topic specific cause and effect essays. It's very tedious and they find it very difficult. I wish we had more curriculum time for making models and acting out the stories as plays like can do with my KS2 classes

natwebb79 Sat 07-Dec-13 11:32:05

The fact his history teacher is a trained, experienced professional (I assume) means that there is probably a very good reason. Do you question why doctors cure people in certain ways? Or is it really just teachers that the world and his mate assumes to be thick as shit?! grin

Rosencrantz Sat 07-Dec-13 11:32:10

Doing this task is one of my fondest memories from secondary school.

HOW are they building the castle model though?

DS1 could chose any computer graphics package to make his model. And yes, this included crafting it in Minecraft.... History teacher became epic instantly. hmm

He had to include vital rooms such as weapons storage, how to get to the turrets, openings for shooting darts/oil at enemies, mechanism for opening closing the bridge/gate, etc. Basically all the vital elements for defending your castle.

Rosencrantz Sat 07-Dec-13 11:33:27

And because I built the castle with my own two hands, I remember each part of it. Motte, bailey, keep, gatehouse, barbican.

Miles better than labelling some sodding diagram.

Verycold Sat 07-Dec-13 11:34:10

Natwebb I am a teacher myself

DoYouLikeMyBaubles Sat 07-Dec-13 11:37:50

Well if you're a teacher yourself you should realise that children learn differently. Some prefer a more hands on approach rather than writing. Like quint and rosen mentioned, learning all the different parts in a way different to looking at pictures and labelling them.

No matter what level you work at you'll get tasks like this that seem meaningless but aren't. Even at degree level you're asked to construct things, make posters etc.

DameDeepRedBetty Sat 07-Dec-13 11:39:01

Oh I wish they'd let dtds make theirs in Minecraft! It was absolutely welting down the morning it had to go to school, and I ended up driving them up there and dropping them as close as possible, together with about another thirty or forty Year 7 parents doing the same thing, clarting up the buses and taxis as there is no other drop-off zone provided, with a bin bag precariously dragged over the top to stop the papier mache disintegrating.

Not sure how much help it was with History, but their uncle the obsessive model train layout maker had a lovely time helping them create it.

My DS in yr 6 is really looking forward to this nxt year.

He is very much the sort of child who would learn miles mire from doing this, researching and making, then from being told things.

There should be more stuff like this IMO

Verycold Sat 07-Dec-13 11:39:52

Well dd hates making models, so if we're talking catering for learning styles she shouldn't have to do it. She would much rather write an essay.

DoYouLikeMyBaubles Sat 07-Dec-13 11:41:46


with that last comment I really think you're taking the piss. Tough shit if your DD hates making models. A lot of children don't like having to write - whether its because of dyslexia or just personal choice - but they have to. This is one task that gives children a different option. I'm sure your DD would appreciate a bit of diversity in the classroom once in a while.

DoYouLikeMyBaubles Sat 07-Dec-13 11:42:17

Finding it very hard to believe you're a teacher to be honest with that attitude.

So your dd is lucky that most of the time her preferred method of learning is catered for then.

EduCated Sat 07-Dec-13 11:43:39

And the children who don't learn well by essay writing! Should they be allowed to opt out of those?

EduCated Sat 07-Dec-13 11:43:58

Ahem, erroneous ! there.

manicinsomniac Sat 07-Dec-13 11:44:03

she has years to write essays verycold

Seriously, I work in a school where we follow the history national curriculum for Y7 and 8 in Y5 and 6. Our Y7s and 8s are preparing for an exam which is harder than GCSE (one document analysis essay and one knowledge based essay in an hour) and, for the majority of them, it really puts them off the subject. They would be much happier being kids and learning to love history through a range of interactive activities (including the occasional essay) than having 300 years of history and advanced level skills shoved down their throat in the same level of detail that older teens do and then (I presume) treading water for 2 years before they take the same GCSE as kids who have got to do things like make models.

WorraLiberty Sat 07-Dec-13 11:44:50

My DS (now in year 10) built a model of Hedingham castle in year 7 and has very fond memories of it. He even won a trip to Thorpe Park.

More than anything, it was fun.

natwebb79 Sat 07-Dec-13 11:45:13

Then don't you get fed up with people constantly assuming you're being lazy/incompetent? I would have thought the merits of such a task (as some posters have pointed out) would be obvious if you're an education professional.

Op must be a nursery teacher if she is mixing up primary and secondary ...... wink

DoYouLikeMyBaubles Sat 07-Dec-13 11:45:56

In year seven I had to construct a bridge from straws. It was bloody annoying but it learnt us how we can make things structurally sound. Was funny seeing other groups' bridges fail when tested grin

JacqueslePeacock Sat 07-Dec-13 11:46:21

Isn't the point of understanding learning styles that a variety of different style tasks can be set, and it isn't all just writing essays? confused

natwebb79 Sat 07-Dec-13 11:47:08

And your DD needs to learn that in the big wide world of work she will often have to work in a way that doesn't suit her. I too am doubtful you're a teacher with your comments so far...

ChippyMinton Sat 07-Dec-13 11:47:27

OP, I am with you on this one. I have absolutely not just finished making his castle, oh no not at all <sits on paint-spattered hands>. He has better things to do than fanny around with cardboard and glue. I am hoping for a good grade and a merit point though.

Quite clearly the school is shite. Withdraw her immediately. fhmm

fairylightsatchristmas Sat 07-Dec-13 11:50:20

I do exactly this task with my Y7s and in RS they build synagogues. They can do it on minecraft, build in lego or biscuits if they like! They don't just do the basic shape, they do working drawbridges, wire up little lights to batteries etc. Plenty to tech and science in there. The idea is also to give an alternative to the endless writing that they do so that those who don't shine at that skill get their chance. Last year one of the weakest boys in the class who always gets "much try harder" type comments, got merits and his model kept to use an example for this year. He has just asked me if I have shown the new Y7s and was SO chuffed when I said yes. (And some of the Y7s have found him and told him how great it was.) They also have the option on doing it in pairs so maybe your DD could team up with someone a bit more handy? I am really surprised you say you are a teacher if you don't understand this fairly basic pedagogical idea.

natwebb79 Sat 07-Dec-13 11:51:49

Chippy - well done for giving your DS the message that his teacher is somebody who can be disrespected and that work set is optional depending on whether his mum thinks it's worth doing. That attitude will do him the world of good in the long run confused

Shente Sat 07-Dec-13 11:52:37

I can't believe your attitude, do you also feel that educational visits to castles etc are a waste of time? After all they could just read and write essays about them. And your arrogance in assuming your dd's learning style is the only one that should be catered for is astounding.

Feminine Sat 07-Dec-13 11:53:51

very cold

You sound like a right odd bod.

Yr 7 is hardly 18.

some of them have just turned 11 in August!

You should know that not all kids learn by writing essays.

My son has dysgraphia it actually hurts him to write!

Verycold Sat 07-Dec-13 12:14:00

Are you honestly all saying that your heart doesn't sink ag this type of h/w? The sourcing of materials, the parental input required... I work full time and have two other children, one with sn. It's just an extra hassle I could do without. Why can't there be the option to label z diagram for those who can't do it? I don't want to take anything away for those who love it, but I just want the choice!

ChippyMinton Sat 07-Dec-13 12:15:10

natwebb79 - that's a bit harsh. He certainly does not get that message, and history is one of his favourite subjects. He spent the time producing several awesome written pieces (that is his strength btw - he got a level 6 in his English SATS), and is out for the entire weekend following his other interests.

Feminine Sat 07-Dec-13 12:15:49

little bit of backtracking there very

that should have been your original post shouldn't it? wink

DoYouLikeMyBaubles Sat 07-Dec-13 12:18:02

very I do get your point, I think the school should provide materials but in this case if they haven't, your y7 boy surely can go and source them himself.. help you with your weekly shop perhaps and add the stuff he needs? You don't have to do anything for him, he's old enough to do it himself.

ChippyMinton Sat 07-Dec-13 12:18:25

DS would've leapt at the opportunity to do this piece using Minecraft.
I alos work, have 2 other DC, one on whom is also building a model. OUr dining table looks like the Blue Peter studio. Over the years we 've done greek pots more than once, endless costumes, models, etc and I would like to stop now please.

Rosencrantz Sat 07-Dec-13 12:19:31

A much more reasonable post OP!

You can't be arsed to do it! Not that you refuse to see the task's value and oppose it on those grounds.

As a teacher do you set different homework for each child depending on their home circumstances?

I personally love this type of thing. Ds isn't at school yet, but I've helped neighbours kids before. But then I'm a crafty person.

However, at 11, shouldn't your DD be "sourcing" her own materials and completing the bulk of it herself?

Ever wondered if Dds hatred of model making stems from the attitudes she is surrounded by?

NoComet Sat 07-Dec-13 12:21:05

How to ice a carved cake, without getting in a crumbly mess and enjoy eating it.

DD1's projects have taught her how to cast metal (because DH had a serve was dying to plat with) and how to say a huge thank you to your DM.

(I quite enjoyed making her WE2 model, but..)

Hollyandbooze Sat 07-Dec-13 12:21:22

VAK learning.


DoYouLikeMyBaubles Sat 07-Dec-13 12:21:26

Sorry got DD and DS mixed up, please swap my his and he's for hers!

NoComet Sat 07-Dec-13 12:21:53

set he wanted to play with

soverylucky Sat 07-Dec-13 12:21:53

I find your attitude to work puzzling. Whilst at school I had to participate in a variety of different tasks from model building to screen printing, burning things to writing essays, running round a cold field to singing with a choir. A good school will offer a broad range of different activities. We can't do what we want to do all the time. There was a very good article that I read recently about how children now have too much choice in their life - they can constantly chose what they want to do when actually sometimes it would be better for them to be told what to do even if they didn't want to do it. I wish I could find the link for it. Some children will have making the model just as some will hate writing an essay. As for 'sourcing' materials - surely you find stuff from round the house? If you are really struggling to find things to make it from then speak to the school. I remember my brother doing this and making it from lego!

Rosencrantz Sat 07-Dec-13 12:22:19

OP how are you coping with food technology?

donttellmetokeepcalm Sat 07-Dec-13 12:24:57

mine made hers out of cake - the whole class ate it. not sure it totally fitted the brief but hey ho....

natwebb79 Sat 07-Dec-13 12:26:58

Chippy - it's still going against what his teacher has asked him to do and therefore podding on his/her fire somewhat. This is why Scandinavian/Asian countries do so much better in the league tables, because parents fully support the teachers' judgement and reinforce messages they learn in school at home.

bigTillyMintspie Sat 07-Dec-13 12:27:58

Verycold, DD had to do this in Y7. Bloody palaver. And she is pretty good at art/creative stuff! Thank God they didn't ask DS to do it when he was in Y7grin

My DDad is 70yo. He made a model of a castle at school. It is one of his fondest memories. he went on to become a Civil Engineer. Maybe the two things are connected? At any rate, it certainly didn't seem to have a detrimental impact on his education.

Perhaps you should simply consider that your child is upholding a tradition of crappy castle building dating back to at least the early 1950s.

Dawndonnaagain Sat 07-Dec-13 12:28:31

It's a visual aid to teach all sorts of things, from which part of the castle is which, to the structure of the society at the time. It covers everyday living; food collection, cooking, eating, to warfare: where the fletcher worked to which parts of the ramparts to fire from.

Doubletroublemummy2 Sat 07-Dec-13 12:29:35

I have an idea, let not get the kids to do anything they or their parents don't want and just give them a sticker at the end of it all.

ilovesooty Sat 07-Dec-13 12:29:40

What's all this crap about parental input? Make your children do their own homework. It's totally disrespectful to the teacher to do it for them. No wonder we have young adults still expecting mummy to get them out of anything they don't feel like doing.

ChippyMinton Sat 07-Dec-13 12:34:23

natweeb79 "podding on his/her fire somewhat" - you what now? smile

FredFredGeorge Sat 07-Dec-13 12:39:41

Don't be silly ilovesooty how will you be able to turn up at the school gate carrying a model and proclaim how awesome jocasta was at her homework if she's made it herself?

natwebb79 Sat 07-Dec-13 12:39:53

Haha I think I just invented a new verb! To pod. No idea what it means but it's supposed to be a direct synonym of 'to piss' grin

ChippyMinton Sat 07-Dec-13 12:44:50

I have made the castle a bit crap, don't want the teacher thinking they have been disrepected wink

Judging by some of the models I have seen being carried into school over the years, I suggest that there is much parental input into the making thereof.

Very , I always let my 11 yr old do and make his own homework.

It is never perfect, never seems to get an A, but if is always made 100% by him.

You need to learn to step back a bit maybe?

I know plenty of parents who do their kids' homework ( and, mildly annoying, it gets the better grades) but really, it is not the point is it?

Philoslothy Sat 07-Dec-13 12:49:01

My Year 7s do this and love it, they have options of how to approach the task. Some draw plans , some make a castle out of cardboard , some use other materials .

I give them time after school to do it in my classroom and to use my craft materials if they wish.

They use the castles after having studied battle of Hastings . Just after they have an essay comparing the military techniques of great military leaders and a knowledge of castles and forts helps them do that.

ilovesooty Sat 07-Dec-13 12:53:44

I find it difficult to understand how some parents can be so brazen about doing their child's work for them, joke about the Disrespect to the school and the teachers working hard to plan and assess and fail to be embarrassed about their attitude. It's giving an appalling message to their children. The task doesn't matter. Teachers have mnothing better to do than plan and assess work not even completed by the pupils. And never mind, precious, if it's boring and you have other interests mummy will do it for you.

Philoslothy Sat 07-Dec-13 12:58:34

I have helped 3 of my children make their castles .

I have not helped them with the subject matter just the practicalities of putting it together .

natwebb79 Sat 07-Dec-13 13:09:24

What ilovesooty said.

Valdeeves Sat 07-Dec-13 13:14:10

I just find it really odd that you ask that question when you are a teacher??
It's the learning by doing approach, remembering the names of each part as you build.
Even if your daughter is not creative you should encourage her to learn a new skill whether you feel it's relevant or not.
Just as we encourage those who don't like writing essays to do so.
What do you teach and how long???

ilovesooty Sat 07-Dec-13 13:17:05

I don't believe she's a teacher at all.

Verycold Sat 07-Dec-13 13:19:14

I don't question the activity in principle, just as a homework and at this age, and also, dare I say, for a high ability pupil who is capable to do much higher level things.

soverylucky Sat 07-Dec-13 13:22:58

what age do you teach?

natwebb79 Sat 07-Dec-13 13:22:59

Then go for differentiation by outcome. If she's G&T she can build the castle and write a piece describing how she built it and what the various parts do. Everyone's happy.

soverylucky Sat 07-Dec-13 13:24:40

I really don't like the notion that 'higher level' does not mean creative.

ChippyMinton Sat 07-Dec-13 13:25:12

ilovesooty - at my DCs' schools, parents are encouraged and expected to be involved in and support their children's learning.

Can I take it that you leave your dC to it? Never listen to them reading, or help with phonics, or take them to places that may help with homework, or drive kids to sports matches etc etc etc.

There are many ways to support learning. Helping with making castles in just one of them.

Verycold Sat 07-Dec-13 13:25:24

Not in everyone of course, but for dd it is the case.

snippyMcSnippy Sat 07-Dec-13 13:26:13

it isn't just building a castle, it is learning to plan, to research and to craft.

DS1 and I are researching pyramids and materials for brickmaking.

fairylightsatchristmas Sat 07-Dec-13 13:28:22

"capable to do..", what, like write a grammatical sentence? By that reasoning, the less able so should only ever be set colouring in and the high ability, given high ability "hard" work will soon work out that its more fun to be in the divvy class! There are plenty of ways that a high ability child can stretch themselves with this task - produce a scale diagram first, plan materials, budget for buying anything needed.

natwebb79 Sat 07-Dec-13 13:28:29

There's a vast difference between supporting DCs in their learning and effectively doing it for them.

soverylucky Sat 07-Dec-13 13:29:07

There is a difference between supporting and helping your child and doing it for them. You have openly stated that you made your child's castle and that you have deliberately tried to make it look like your child did it and not you.

EduCated Sat 07-Dec-13 13:32:30

A properly scaled working model in authentic materials and historically accurate features would be higher level.

Agreed with above, why does 'higher level' preclude creativity?

sashh Sat 07-Dec-13 13:34:52

It is making learning accessible for kinesthetic and visual learners.

ChippyMinton Sat 07-Dec-13 13:37:28

smile You lot are so po-faced.

lljkk Sat 07-Dec-13 13:39:44

It's also understanding the function of the building, it was built that way for a reason. Loads of history in the whys of how space is used.

Verycold Sat 07-Dec-13 13:40:34

Isn't it amazing that I managed to get a degree in history without ever having made a castle model?

ChippyMinton Sat 07-Dec-13 13:42:20

verycold wwould you like to join me on the historically accurate scale model of tthe naughty step? fgrin

Verycold Sat 07-Dec-13 13:44:29

Gladly grin

soverylucky Sat 07-Dec-13 13:44:35

So did I very. So what?

HanneHolm Sat 07-Dec-13 13:44:58

i agree with the OP tbh
i hate parental involvement in hw

HanneHolm Sat 07-Dec-13 13:45:25

PLus I think I know what school she goes to

LynetteScavo Sat 07-Dec-13 13:47:19

I felt exactly the same as the OP when DS1 had to make his Y7 castle, but he won 3rd prize in his year, and his castle was displayed in the school library.

I learned from my mistakes when building that castle, and plan for DS2 to win atleast 2nd prize when he is in Y7 next year. DS2 isn't as academic as DS1, and I actually think he will learn more from researching and building a castle than he would from just being handed a book about castles.

feelingfuckingfestiveok Sat 07-Dec-13 13:51:14

Sometimes these seemingly 'curve ball' tasks in lesson are things that the kids will remember as different/fun BUT will hang lots of other learning off it...why did we have castles, who owned them, locations, events, community around them.

If kids do a tasks like this once in a while or per topic its ok but nit every week. No substitute for reading/writing/discussion.

..adn yes there are many of the 'softer skills' being built into the currciculum. It may including team work emphasis, problem solving, communication...arggh pleaed I am out of it in some ways.

Philoslothy Sat 07-Dec-13 13:53:32

I also have a history degree and only got to build a castle when my children reached Year 7 .

I remember doing this with my eldest son , who is very bright. We visited castles , he drew it out on a CAD programme with his father, he spent ages researching different castles and it ignited a passion for history in a young man who was not really into the " humanities". He actually built a wooden castle with the whole family and gave a young man - who because of his special needs is not very creative - a creative and therapeutic release.

We still have his castle - many year later in the History Department.

jamdonut Sat 07-Dec-13 13:58:37

Well,in year 7 she should be doing it herself, for starters! And if she doesn't like those sort of things,keep it simple! She's just going to have to not be top of the pile for this one. The main thing is to complete the task.

My youngest son was the same when he had to do it, a couple of years ago. He would much rather write about things or do a powerpoint presentation, but that is not the point. It involved research to find the main features of different types of castle and show them in your model. My daughter did it a couple of years prior to that...a motte and bailey castle made out of papier mache and cocktail sticks!

Some people (on both occasions) turned in pink fairy castles!! Beautiful, but not quite following the remit!

natwebb79 Sat 07-Dec-13 14:35:40

As a teacher I'm 'po-faced' because on a daily basis we have to put up with negative attitudes from pupils promoted by their parents. And then read the press telling the world that standards are rubbish because teachers are shit. If you had any idea how many man hours went into planning/marking/assessing etc. only to be slagged off by anybody who has ever been to school (because that obviously qualifies them to know better than teachers) you might realise why so many people think the OP's attitude stinks. Has she told us which stage she 'teaches' yet?!

HDEE Sat 07-Dec-13 14:39:58

We made our castle from cake, it was fab grin

Verycold Sat 07-Dec-13 14:45:01

The more I think about it the more I think it is a waste of time. The skills that go into planning and building the castle contribute nothing to developing skills you need to be a good historian. Why not find accessible ways of doing things that have actual relevance to history as an academic subject?

natwebb79 Sat 07-Dec-13 15:03:15

OP, please could you answer the question so many posters have asked? What/which age group do you teach? Because a few posters have beautifully explained the value of the task and you seem to disregard it. Anybody with a decent knowledge of the learning process would see the value in the task. As a teacher have you not heard of cross-curricular skills? I teach languages but set tasks that tap into every area of the brain, not only the 'language acquisition' area. I would guess that 99% of kids won't end up being historians by trade, but 100% of them need a variety of skills such as problem solving, creativity... I get the impression this will be like talking to a brick wall...

FredFredGeorge Sat 07-Dec-13 15:07:26

Verycold surely the vast majority of those who study history and go on to do related subjects (let alone unrelated) require those skills, even if the very few who become historians don't.

natwebb79 Sat 07-Dec-13 15:10:08

HDEE - I really want a slab of castle cake now!

insancerre Sat 07-Dec-13 15:18:11

Surely it is better to have an holistic view of a child and know that learning cant be compartmentalised?
Everything is connected. Just because it is history, doesn't mean the teaching has ro be dry and just about facts.
I am astounded to think that a teacher does not know that children learn lots of things from different activites and apply what they have learnt to different situations to become better learners.
School is about learning skills, not just facts.

complexnumber Sat 07-Dec-13 15:26:02

I know OP, History is chaps, Geography is maps.

That's what I was taught.

ItsDecisionTime Sat 07-Dec-13 15:29:22

Spent £30 on marshmallows to build ours. DD didn't win but her friends had a great time eating it afterwards! I thought it was a bit of a pointless exercise but she had great fun doing it.

feelingfuckingfestiveok Sat 07-Dec-13 15:29:24

you are right insacerre this task could involved cross curriculur planning and be intergrated to a lot of other stuff.

I'm astounded by how much my DS's primary school achieves this as they do so much out of traditional teaching contexts eg they did the firs of london in PE - it was great DS still talks about now.

insancerre Sat 07-Dec-13 15:35:15

I know I am right felingfuckingfestiveok grin
I know a bit about how children learn- I have a degree in Early Childhood Studies, admittedly, not year 7s , but they can't be that different. Einstein was right too

feelingfuckingfestiveok Sat 07-Dec-13 15:35:15

Acutally to be fair I have just re-read OP post it does say higher level history skill

I would now proably doesnt if it is open ended and they can just go away and build any old castle.

BUT if they had to build a specific type from a given period and were required to reserch this using historical evidence then I would say it does support higher level learning. The castle therefore is the product of a learning process that does not always have to be in written form.

I still think projects like this can add a fun element that is used as an aide memoir for other learning and be powerful in this sense. If they were doing this in year 10/11 I would wonder the value of it.

So the type of task is fine by me but how well defined it is can determine its overall value.

feelingfuckingfestiveok Sat 07-Dec-13 15:36:59

I am an ex secondary teacher insancerre currently doing a pysch degee whilst SAHPing. I've just done Child Development module (with OU) it was bloody hard, harder than the pysch one. Anyway grin away...!

feelingfuckingfestiveok Sat 07-Dec-13 15:42:47

I loved the creaitivity of lesson planning - I do miss that and being in the classroom (mostly) insancerre

ilovesooty Sat 07-Dec-13 15:44:46

Of course schools will encourage parents in supporting their child's learning. I doubt if most support doing the risk for them, treating assessment as a joke, disrespecting the teacher's planning and all that such an attitude entails.

ilovesooty Sat 07-Dec-13 15:46:00

Task not risk of course.

mrsjay Sat 07-Dec-13 16:13:23

Not sure I agree with the fun task bit... And understanding what castles looked like seems more like primary level to me?

If it was a scottish school they would still be in primary school these are 11 year old children and a fun thing like this helps them learn I am glad the days are gone of just books and teachers droning on and on AND On,

mrsjay Sat 07-Dec-13 16:13:45

no offence to any teachers on here i am sure you do not drone wink

feelingfuckingfestiveok Sat 07-Dec-13 16:16:52

hmm indeed mrsj its called creative planning, not death by powerpoint!

mrsjay Sat 07-Dec-13 16:19:55

DD is nearly finished high school she loves history and they did plan and make a fort when she was in 1st year children all learn in different ways and if building a castle turns one child onto history then that has to be a good thing, Fwiw i loved history at school in the days before building castles and white boards

TeenAndTween Sat 07-Dec-13 16:36:10

My DD age 14 really struggled with the 'build a castle' homeworks and actually even the 'create a poster' ones too.

She really really really struggles with anything crafty. Can't cut in a straight line, zero spacial awareness etc etc. These homeworks are a torment to her and it takes hours to produce anything that looks like anyone older than 6 has produced it.
If I leave her to do them herself the hours spent completely lose any learning that should have been gained.

So I have learned to help her work out what the 'learning' of the homework is, then work with her to ensure she gets the learning without all the grief (which means that I assist alot in any construction, unless it is a DT task where I consider construction to be part of the learning).

To me it is like a cost-benefit analysis.

Also, construction-type tasks are a bit like sport. Everyone sees how good/bad you are. Teachers these days don't tend to read out poor essays to the rest of the class...

candycoatedwaterdrops Sat 07-Dec-13 16:56:22

I think offering the option of creative homework is a fantastic idea. I think insisting upon it is ridiculous.

Verycold Sat 07-Dec-13 17:07:53

Thank you teenandtween, excellent post

Verycold Sat 07-Dec-13 17:08:06

And candy

feelingfuckingfestiveok Sat 07-Dec-13 17:09:46

I think varying the outcome written and practical is good practice. Though in KS4/5 I would expect it to be related directly to exam performance (sad I know but thats the game)

I think that is quite a pragmatic approach teen

natwebb79 Sat 07-Dec-13 17:18:16

But if your child is bad at something then surely they need practice. Half the reason so many children in this country underachieve is because they lack resilience in learning and the second they start to 'struggle' they are encouraged to give up. 'Struggling' should be a sign that there is an opportunity to learn something new. If you're not struggling then you have already acquired that particular skill, so what's the point?

insancerre Sat 07-Dec-13 17:31:56

feeling good luck with the pysch degree

mintberry Sat 07-Dec-13 17:46:51

I don't see the problem with a fun/creative activity once in a while for them at that age? As long as it's not every other week and they are being taught the full curriculum.

I dropped history at GCSE because it was so dry, we had the most feared teacher in the school and no fun was allowed! When I changed school I took it up again for A-level and really enjoyed it, went on to do a degree in it. I think with history it's really important at that age to make it appeal, or no one is going to be interested in pursuing it later.

maparole Sat 07-Dec-13 17:52:45

Not a massive call for pure essay writing in the workplace ...

However, project preparation, team working, presentational skills, problem solving and process analysis are all invaluable.

PointyChristmasFairyWand Sat 07-Dec-13 17:56:49

My heart sank last year when I found the 'build a castle' task.

Then I started thinking positive. DD1 did it collectively with her friends and made the castle out of cake. I did all the 'dangerous' bits - hot ovens, sharp knives etc. - but they researched, designed, mixed, rolled, shaped and assembled. It took about 7 hours and the resulting cake was massive - it fed all of Yr7 and the staffroom, and it looked amazing. The girls learned a lot about the structural difficulties involved in building a defensible motte and bailey castle. I'm already discussing options for Yr7 with DD2 now in Yr6 - we are thinking modelling chocolate.

I appreciate that these crafty tasks are difficult, and it would have been easier if we had been allowed Lego, Minecraft and/or 2D methods, but it was a great experience.

Verycold Sat 07-Dec-13 17:57:54

On that argument, maparole, we could do away with a number of academic subjects altogether.

And if she struggles to persevere with this, in what way has she become a better historian?

feelingfuckingfestiveok Sat 07-Dec-13 18:06:14

I couldnt agree more natweb conflict in a childs understanding makes them figure things out, and no should not be allowed to give up. We trya dn instill this work ethic in DS.

He rips through maths homeworks in minutes but writing is a night mare. We are DIYing for 11+so I have started him with English and Scrabble as that is the bits he needs to work on

maparole Sat 07-Dec-13 18:10:15

On that argument, maparole, we could do away with a number of academic subjects altogether.

No, because the skills required for academic study are also invaluable.

And skills are what it is all about, after all: the facts and figures learnt are rarely of much use or significance in later life.

I wonder what you think "being a historian" involves? Certainly not learning a lot of stuff and regurgitating it to order.

Verycold Sat 07-Dec-13 18:13:47
Verycold Sat 07-Dec-13 18:15:46

See the link - no talk of lolly sticks there anywhere...

Where did I say I want her to learn facts and regurgitate them? In history they should learn to evaluate sources, develop an opinion, present an argument... All valuable skills I believe.

insancerre Sat 07-Dec-13 18:15:53

A good historian would probably need to have good research skills and a good imagination to bring the history alive and make it relevant.
They might even need the skills to make a model to reach a greater audience.

rabbitlady Sat 07-Dec-13 18:16:01

tell me about it. the person who has decided what year 7 will do about Christmas is having them cut out and colour Christmas trees. in religious education. if i cared, i'd weep. Jesus wept.

DoYouLikeMyBaubles Sat 07-Dec-13 18:22:52

teenandtween Then you're lucky those sorts of tasks are few and far between. Unfortunately for some children who struggle with writing - in the same way your DD struggles with craft - they have to do it day in day out and their only relief from it is in tasks like this.

Thing is we all have to do things we don't like in life, I have to do oral presentations as part of my degree which I hate because I have anxiety in social situations, but it's just part of education.

Verycold if you are a teacher, you should be able to acknowledge that things like this do have benefits. It's not just about the topic at hand, it's teaching skills to be able to engage in the topic.

natwebb79 Sat 07-Dec-13 18:27:56

What percentage of the children in the class do you think are planning to become historians, OP? Do you really think that the sole purpose of their lessons is to prepare them to become a specialist academic in that field? PLEASE put us out of our misery and tell us what you teach?!

Verycold Sat 07-Dec-13 18:31:22

Evaluating sources, presenting an argument... Skills history can teach you, but which are useful in many areas of life. Planning and constructing a model... Also useful, but should be taught in DT, not history.

I don't really want to say what teacher I am, not sure why I should?

HamletsSister Sat 07-Dec-13 18:36:43

My daughter, too, would hate this homework. However, she would do it with good grace, knowing it was part of her course and try to make something she is proud of. Actually building something is a far better way of finding out how it is put together than a drawing or essay. She would prefer to write an essay. But she is top of every class in writing so would just be demonstrating what she CAN do rather than being a little outside her comfort zone and trying something new.

There is a lot of evidence about the importance of children learning how to fail, how to be less than perfect and pick themselves up and try again. Parents who do their children's homework are showing them that success is worth more than effort.

Ask her what she wants to build it from. Buy / help find the equipment. Shut the door and admire it when it is done.

DoYouLikeMyBaubles Sat 07-Dec-13 18:42:35

Verycold you have a very linear view for a 'teacher'. To build a model you have to learn and use analytical skills, researching and planning, thinking outside the box, be a bit creative and maybe use imagination, trial and error, communication skills if working as a team... Just to name a few

If it was all bullshit there wouldnt be workshops that involve this very thing to 'unlock' these sorts of skills in people.

NoComet Sat 07-Dec-13 18:45:36

My problem is history always adds a model into a huge written project.

There is never enough time to do the research and planning justice. The written part should be taken in and the model given as a separate weeks HW.

not as my dyslexic DD1's teacher did add sections to the written project as they went a long so there was no conceivable chance of her having time to build a model. She was staying up to 10.30pm as it was.

Models may be a bit of fun, but they still need time. Lots of time if shopping or paint drying are included.

Eliza22 Sat 07-Dec-13 18:48:54

I scored highly for my Yr 7 castle. Ds was not really that interested but, did paint the braziers. I think school know they are mostly assessing the parent's efforts. smile

soverylucky Sat 07-Dec-13 18:56:10

It is about kinaesthetic learning!

AnAdventureInCakeAndWine Sat 07-Dec-13 19:02:45

Is learning to persevere with something you find difficult not a useful skill? Or do you just consider it not to be a useful skill for a historian? Do historians always find everything easy?

ilovesooty Sat 07-Dec-13 19:07:34

Parents who do their children's homework are showing them that success is worth more than effort

Exactly. Or at the very least showing them that cutting corners and cheating is an acceptable way of achieving goals.

I scored highly for my Yr 7 castle. Ds was not really that interested but, did paint the braziers. I think school know they are mostly assessing the parent's efforts. smile

I'm still disgusted that anyone thinks that is funny.

AnAdventureInCakeAndWine Sat 07-Dec-13 19:07:35

And if, as a high ability pupil, your daughter isn't learning anything from the exercise, then perhaps she's not doing it properly? And perhaps you could channel your valuable parental input towards guiding her to an approach where she would learn something from it? On the assumption that she doesn't already have degree-level archaeological knowledge there must be something she doesn't already know about the construction of castles.

Verycold Sat 07-Dec-13 19:24:54

I'm sure there is. Which she won't find out about by spending hours sticking lolly sticks together, because afaik they didn't use those in the middle ages. I would be more than happy for her to visit castles, study pictures, study written sources...

PointyChristmasFairyWand Sat 07-Dec-13 19:26:05

I don't like the idea of thinking that this sort of thing is beneath someone who is 'high ability'. My DD is high ability, but got a lot out of this task.

I do agree that parents should not do the homework for their children, other than anything involving obvious safety risks. Besides, my fondant work is vastly, vastly inferior to my DD's.

DoYouLikeMyBaubles Sat 07-Dec-13 19:29:43

verycold yet again ignoring points made...

ilovesooty Sat 07-Dec-13 19:31:41

I don't like the idea of thinking that this sort of thing is beneath someone who is 'high ability'

Neither do I. This sneering about lolly sticks is really unpleasant. And I speak as a high achiever at school who liked writing essays but had zero craft, practical and technical ability. I would have benefited from being moved outside my comfort zone.

Valdeeves Sat 07-Dec-13 19:41:55

I think we have safely established the OP doesn't teach Art!

Actually I get her point (and the linear thinking suggests Maths or IT I think!) probably alot of famous historians will never need to build a castle. But if they could, that castle would probably be amazing.

I think what I dislike about this post is the sneering attitude towards an arts activity - and the idea that building a castle is a lower end activity.

As someone who's worked in the creative arts I always found it funny when my skills were considered "low brow."
Yet I know in my heart that few of the population could design and build a set or design and sew costumes for entire cast - and then adapt the script!

It's not easy to build a good castle - and I agree that an academic child ought to try and stretch their mind that way.

Did you find it easy to build a castle as a child OP?

Valdeeves Sat 07-Dec-13 19:42:48

Btw as a kid, I build a frickin amazing castle - ha ha ha

Verycold Sat 07-Dec-13 19:47:22

Valdeeves, that's it though - it's not too easy, it's too hard!

Slothful Sat 07-Dec-13 19:50:14

I think a lot of people are asking what sort of teacher the OP is as she doesn't seem to understand different activities for learning, the different levels of reading or writing children will have at year 7 or the benefit of cross-curricular activities.

AnAdventureInCakeAndWine Sat 07-Dec-13 19:52:49

Ah, right. You hadn't said that it specified the model needed to be made out of lolly sticks. I'd assumed that they had a free range of materials and that therefore you'd be able to guide her towards appropriate primary and secondary sources.

It seems that you've had a partial change of heart over the course of this thread, anyway. At the beginning when DoYouLikeMyBaubles suggested research into how castles were built you said that understanding what castles looked like seemed more like primary level to you, but now you'd be more than happy for her to do that.

DoYouLikeMyBaubles Sat 07-Dec-13 19:55:33

and the linear thinking suggests Maths or IT I think!
No if you see something from a linear point of you only see it from one dimension, not seeing it from other perspectives. Or so the saying goes.

Swanhilda Sat 07-Dec-13 20:08:09

But how do you actually build the castle?

I am very interested to know. Certainly dyspraxic Ds1 didn't have any idea how to approach the model building side.

Last time we made a background out of papier mache and newspaper then fiddly bits of cardboard for the castellated walls, cocktail sticks for the fence and painted the water in. There is no way ds1 could have done any of the fiddly cutting bits. He painted it just about. He was interested. But he couldn't have planned it - as he couldn't imagine what the modelling equivalents of RL were. A child that never did lego or airfix or colouring. What do you actually do with a child like that? They enjoy the finished product but find it nearly impossible to THINK how to achieve it.

What other ideas does any one have? Ds2 is going to get this project any day now and as he has SNs I am going to need to help him with it.
Any CHILD FRIENDLY ways of making a castle model?

natwebb79 Sat 07-Dec-13 20:09:40

I think it's safe to say that the OP had decided she was NBU before she posted and a gazillion posters telling her otherwise isn't going to change that. Which begs the question why bother posting this on AIBU?

DoYouLikeMyBaubles Sat 07-Dec-13 20:12:42

swan how old is your DS?

It depends on the age range. My answers have been completely based on the OP's child not having any special needs, and being in year seven.

Swanhilda Sat 07-Dec-13 20:13:30

I don't think "building a castle is a lower end activity". It is to me a DIFFICULT activity. Very satisfying, you learn a lot, they see the reality of the construction in 3D, they see peers' castles. But the idea that every child can do it themselves is a fantasy. Where do you start? There are a lot of assumptions about the child's basic modelling abilities and grasp of materials. It is like asking someone to sew a historical garment without teaching them to sew first. The teaching to sew is going to take up more time than the historical garment research bit.

WhereIsMyHat Sat 07-Dec-13 20:14:14

Very cold, I am absolutely amazed that you are a teacher and fail to see where the benefit of this task is. Perhaps not for every child especially your 'very bright' child but it benefits some.

From what you say, you'd prefer academic writing, labelling or study which would be great for your child but what about those children who learn different. F them is it? As long as your child is catered for.

There is research, technology, creative thinking, logistical thinking, building. How can you not see this?

Not all y7 children are going to become historians but history is part of the curriculam, thinking of ways to forge an interest in children at this age can only be a positive thing. Some kids don't enjoy death by listening/ text book learning do they?

Tell you what is linear, you OP!

Swanhilda Sat 07-Dec-13 20:15:08

Year 7 ds2(11), and Year 9 Ds1 (13) (who has just needed a massive amount of help with his WW1 trench model)

TeenAndTween Sat 07-Dec-13 20:17:52

^DoYouLikeMyBaubles Sat 07-Dec-13 18:22:52
teenandtween Then you're lucky those sorts of tasks are few and far between. Unfortunately for some children who struggle with writing - in the same way your DD struggles with craft - they have to do it day in day out and their only relief from it is in tasks like this.^

My DD also struggles with writing/essays, so the craft did not give light relief at all.

You should have seen my DD's Y7 homework! They were trialling a new style of project work and almost every single one asked for a build or a poster ... hardly an essay amongst them.
I would have less problem with build-a-castle type history homeworks if the tech subjects then requested essays!

Surely the best homework request would be to "research the construction of a medieval castle and present your ideas as you prefer. This can be for example, a model, a presentation, and architectural drawing, and essay, a rap song etc" . Then everyone would be happy!

Oh, and to whoever said something about practicing skills you're not good at. I quite agree. I am just not convinced that secondary level history homework is the most appropriate place to try to improve cutting out & construction skills that years of intervention at primary and home failed to resolve.

MacaYoniandCheese Sat 07-Dec-13 20:18:19

I live in Canada. Ours have to build Native-American Longhouses and bear caves envy.

DoYouLikeMyBaubles Sat 07-Dec-13 20:19:33

swan I suspect your DS1 would find it really difficult as from what I know about dyspraxia, it effects co-ordination and the ability to plan, the way the brain processes certain information. Did the school not offer any support with it or was it left to you?

Verycold Sat 07-Dec-13 20:20:57

Teenandtween, I think I love you!

DoYouLikeMyBaubles Sat 07-Dec-13 20:22:37

tween well no because it's not necessarily about making everyone happy, we all have to explore different learning styles to be able to learn new skills and how to utilise them. If someone consistently choses to do essays, they'd miss out on other learning opportunities that allow for a more rounded learning experience.

Verycold Sat 07-Dec-13 20:33:54

I thought the idea of learning styles was in fact that people can learn in their own way? So if they thrive on the written word, why stop them.

And I still don't think i am bu, because nobody has convinced me yet wink

TeenAndTween Sat 07-Dec-13 20:37:56

DoYouLike - well I would agree, except that if that's really important then maybe they should do it at school as a team project in the classroom rather than setting it as homework where my daughter if left unguided would produce something that looks like a y2 has produced it, and wouldn't in any way show her knowledge.

How many times should someone have to be asked to construct something before they learn that it doesn't suit their learning style? Surely the teacher should be thinking what the key learning is and try to ensure the homework set enables this to be achieved?

My DD1 has clear dyspraxic traits though we have never had an assessment (long story behind that). Poor planning & organisation skills, poor fine and gross motor skills, poor spatial awareness, fussy about clothes. Which is maybe why I disliked her being set these homeworks so much. Luckily she's in y10 now and has dropped all the tech subjects and gets sensible homeworks these days. smile

DoYouLikeMyBaubles Sat 07-Dec-13 20:40:07

How are they to discover if they like a learning style if they don't take part in it? They're young - there's much they won't have experienced and limiting those experiences just because they 'thrive on the written word' is silly.

No-one is stopping them, they're just trying to engage them in different tasks so as to help them see things from a different view, and like I've already said, learn new skills.

Like I said, even at degree level you need to be able to demonstrate knowledge using different outlets. You can't limit yourself to one. You're not exactly preparing your daughter for further education if you feel she should only have to write.

DoYouLikeMyBaubles Sat 07-Dec-13 20:42:11

sorry crossed posts, its taking me an age to type with these nails

soverylucky Sat 07-Dec-13 20:42:43

1. The activity will be fun for many children. Not all of them but a significant number will like it and it may make them want to find out more about castles and life in Medieval England.
2. A good teacher will vary the homework activities on a week by week basis so if this one does not suit a child then another one will.
3. I maintain that it is sometimes a good thing to do something that you don't want to do.
4. Being creative is just as valuable to society as being a high academic achiever and actually many people are both.
5. I personally would have been rubbish at this sort of task but I was always taught that you should have a go at things and challenge yourself.
6. I do think it is a very valid point to offer children the choice of make a model or do a written piece but this has to be balanced against point 3 in my list.
7. Different learning styles need to be addressed by teachers as much as possible.
8. It is just one homework. I bet the majority of other homework tasks are written tasks.

Verycold Sat 07-Dec-13 20:43:07

I spent years and years in education and never had to do this, why is it suddenly considered to be so desirable??

soverylucky Sat 07-Dec-13 20:45:33

swan I would check to see if your ds's teacher has differentiated the task in any way to take into account your son's needs.
In terms of advice on how to build it - depends on what type of castle they want.

DoYouLikeMyBaubles Sat 07-Dec-13 20:50:06

verycold Because times have changed, we know a lot more about cognitive development (and not just in children).

TeenAndTween Sat 07-Dec-13 20:51:59

Well, I don't feel she should only have to write. Actually she's pretty good at presentations, public speaking, singing even.

But by the end of primary it was pretty obvious to anyone who knew her that drawing/construction was not one of her learning styles. She really didn't need another 2 years in secondary to work that one out!

One thing we did try for some time in secondary was mind maps to structure thoughts before writing essays. But despite a lot of trying and practice those don't seem great for her either (too unstructured).

So maybe all we're discussing is up to what point should a pupil be made to use a non-mainstream-for-that-subject learning style when doing homework. (As opposed to trying it in class, using it in a more appropriate subject, optionally being allowed to use it).

echt Sat 07-Dec-13 21:08:37

The OP needs to get in touch with the teacher to find out the assessment criteria for the task. If they didn't give any either a) they're a crap teacher or b) this is a piece of fun.

Also, learning styles are a big pile of poo. Just google "learning styles are rubbish" and take a look. What matters is that what needs to be learned is presented in the best way to get it learned. An example would be riding a bike; no-one would seriously present a kid with an essay on how to do it, no matter if some half-arsed test showed they liked writing; the best thing is get on the bike, and have some guided learning.

In PE, you don't learn how to kick a ball properly by reading a manual; you'd show the child, possibly run a video too. I can see some interesting applications for ball kicking in physics lessons, though.

As for VAK

Visual: read this
Auditory: listen to this
Kinaesthetic: write this

Good teaching means, among other things, presenting material in a variety of ways that support learning

Verycold Sat 07-Dec-13 21:15:26

Echt, and that is my point: I don't believe that this task matches the subject matter to be learnt!

PointyChristmasFairyWand Sat 07-Dec-13 21:21:54

Swanhilda, assuming your DC's teacher hasn't specified particular materials (and very hmm at lolly sticks only!) and hasn't specified size, I'd go with air dry clay and keep it small. Look up Stansted Mountfitchet for ideas (we live an hour away and had visited it twice before the task came up, and it was immensely helpful).

Teachers aren't expecting artistic brilliance - DD1 had to include certain components (the motte, the bailey, the village within, a palisade, some people and a few animals) but outside those criteria they were flexible. DD and her friends decided to put in deliberate anachronisms and make it a 'spot the error' exercise for the teacher - one of the horses was a unicorn, one of the knights was in a gangnam style pose, there was a flipflop on the edge of the well and a surfboard in the river, that sort of thing. The teacher was totally on board. It's amazing what you can do with fondant, I'd never have thought of most of it...

Valdeeves Sun 08-Dec-13 01:25:42

Just incase you need to know how to make a model castle with lolly pop sticks:

Take empty ice cream tub - glue sticks around it and two empty drinks cartons on top to make battlements.
Glue together in a criss cross shape to make a portcullis.
Paint grey! Put tinfoil or blue tissue paper around to make a moat.

You could also use polystyrene and cut into shape as it looks like stone.

OP - I do take your point as I know for a fact that in secondary school the aim is to find the preferred learning style of each individual and allow them to go with that. At that level I don't think it would have effected her learning if she just wrote about it. From what you've said she'll never pursue Art.
If she was much younger I'd disagree but I think I get it now simply because my brain is wired purely one way - arty. And that would have always been my preferred learning style - so why shouldn't it go the other way too.

Verycold Sun 08-Dec-13 06:56:00

Thanks Valdeeves

natwebb79 Sun 08-Dec-13 07:23:39

If you're that concerned about the competence of your DD's history teacher then why don't you make use of your superior knowledge and home school her? You obviously believe she's not receiving the education she should be.

LtEveDallas Sun 08-Dec-13 07:30:25

I got a 'B' for my next door neighbours castle homework. Chocolate cake castle mmm grin

Mind you I got an 'A' for the volcano cake - I think it was the working lava flow that did it.

I really don't see the educational value in it - she wasn't told to make a certain type or construction, just 'a castle'. Her teacher mum had actually told her just to draw on a cardboard box, so I suspect she wasn't impressed either.

Verycold Sun 08-Dec-13 07:37:14 Humanities Hw Project Castles.pdf

Now that is one impressive task! But a scale model of an existing task? In year 7? Where on earth do you start with that???

Verycold Sun 08-Dec-13 07:37:39

Not my dd's school btw, just an example I found!

ChippyMinton Sun 08-Dec-13 07:58:34

Very envy at the cake castles om nom nom.

I have conducted a very non-scientific RL poll and the shocking conclusion is that...teachers know that model-making homework is to test the parents, and give them an opportunity to boast about the marks they get. It's a cunning ploy to engage parents in supporting their children's learning.

<dons hard hat>

merrymouse Sun 08-Dec-13 08:22:59

The point is that when you build something in 3d you have to really think about where the different elements are in relation to each other. Architecture is central to many periods of history and dictated how people lived and whether they could resist attack. Some people find making things more difficult than others, but 11 is a little young to stop trying to step outside your comfort zone.

Slothful Sun 08-Dec-13 09:28:12

11 is a little young to stop trying to step outside your comfort zone.

Any age is too young to stop stepping outside your comfort zone.

Shente Sun 08-Dec-13 09:30:31

I don't think it's about learning styles, it's about giving learners a range of opportunities to learn in different ways and not always assuming that subjects are strictly delineated with no cross-curricular links. I was "very bright" and also very useless at art etc but I loved designing and building a not very good Tudor house to a strict budget. Realising I couldn't afford everything I wanted and prioritising my needs. There's not a chance my mum would have got involved, it was my work and for me to do to the vest of my ability.

To my shame I actually worked much harder at this than I ever did in art because I didn't like art but wanted to please my history teacher.

sheridand Sun 08-Dec-13 09:36:56

I always set this homework at the end of a sequence of lessons learning about medieval life and castles. It tested the ability of the student to recall and use that knowledge. Some students produced works of genius,i remember one in particular that had been made, very simply, out of cardboard, but what made it excel was the detail drawn on it, and the labels added which showed just how much learning that particular child had done.

Points are not awarded merely for style, a good castle will really illustrate how that child has understood elements of medieval life. Most of mine particularly enjoyed drawing on details of the rubbishy sewage system! Everyone enjoyed it. Most end of topic assessments in history rely on written pieces which are then given levels, it's always a joy to be able to set something different. I never had a student who didn't enjoy it.

My favourite lesson in Year 7 was always my re-enactment of the Battle of Hastings. Takes some nerve to do that on a playground! Particularly if you get a Harald who isn't keen on dying.....

ApplesinmyPocket Sun 08-Dec-13 09:53:00

My Nan knocked up a super castle in one evening when I was at junior school - it had a drawbridge and turrets and everything. I won the prize (a very nice pen set) and took it with no guilt at all, my nearest rival was really annoyed that his Dad hadn't had the foresight to make a working drawbridge. <smug> My Nan was great!

fairylightsatchristmas Sun 08-Dec-13 10:36:42

Also, history skills are important but so is actual history. There is too much emphasis in modern history teaching (IMHO) on research skills and empathising with medieval peasants and not enough on actually learning some of the narrative events / facts. I have an MA in medieval history, I teach it to very bright kids at a selective school and like most things in life, there has to be a balance between learning how to evaluate sources, research, etc and actually learning what happened and why. Building a castle is one way (following on from a number of lessons looking at the design, defences, living quarters, progression through the ages) to consolidate this knowledge. God forbid they might do something a bit less pressured for ONE homework inbetween all the essays and questions etc. I also specifically ask that they DON'T get help and sometimes ask for a verbal report on how they achieved a particular bit if it looks a bit too good for an 11 year old. Its pretty obvious if someone's Dad has spent the weekend in the shed!

ChippyMinton Sun 08-Dec-13 10:42:49

I find that the art of delegation is a more useful life skill than the art of wrestling cardboard and paint into a recognisable object.

DoYouLikeMyBaubles Sun 08-Dec-13 11:45:45

So you let your child delegate to you hmm

lisad123everybodydancenow Sun 08-Dec-13 11:57:06

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

jamdonut Sun 08-Dec-13 14:02:41

There is more to history than just reading texts, forming an opinion and writing about it though, isn't there?

Why are so many places of historical interest awash with actors, reconstructions,models ,tableaux,even smells! (I'm thinking Jorvik centre,as an example) Also in York a place where you can take children of all ages to learn about archaeology,with special 'digging' areas and artefacts to be found. Also a host of artefacts to be handled and wondered about. It's just a way of bringing history is the castle building. A fun,alternative way of presenting what you have found out about.

insancerre Sun 08-Dec-13 14:16:59

There is an old Chinese proverb that goes

I listen, I forget
I see, I remember
I do, I understand

Sort of explains the theory behind lessons like this. It also describes in a nutshell how children learn

Tapiocapearl Sun 08-Dec-13 14:51:18

How boring if history was all essays! How amazing to be able to visualise things in 3D.

liquidstate Sun 08-Dec-13 15:03:22

As an architectural historian I think this is a fab idea - and yes I have a history degree. Get the kids learning about construction and engineering as well as history.

Not all kids are academic, some will be good with their hands and this will encourage them to learn and give them confidence.

TeenAndTween Sun 08-Dec-13 19:34:38

I'm finding the differing views on this interesting.

One think I'd like the teachers to answer.

If you say a homework should take around 2 hours (and in fact most children in the class could achieve it in around that time), would you rather:

a) the child handed in next to nothing but spent just the 2 hours (or 3 or 4) and failed to meet the objectives of the task

b) the child spent 8+ frustrating hours (and still handed in something that looked like they hadn't really tried)

c) the parent helped extensively (and admitted it). The child saying what they want to achieve, but the parent doing most of the actual construction.

This is the same question whether we are talking essays or construction by the way. This has always been our dilemma with construction homeworks.

fairylightsatchristmas Sun 08-Dec-13 21:26:35

teen definitely not B! I hate it when kids tell me they've really really tried and haven't managed it. It means I didn't do a good enough job explaining it or offering different levels of acceptable outcome. If C, it depends really - I'd want to know what the parental involvement was. I teach history, not art or tech so I am primarily interested in how well they have demonstrated their knowledge of castle features, not the perfection of the execution, if you see what I mean. The time spent is the important thing. I often use it as a guide for any kind of homework - if you did it in ten mins, its not enough. Tasks are designed to take x time so if its vastly over or under, there's something wrong.

ChippyMinton Tue 10-Dec-13 17:02:47

Who would like to know how the castle saga continued?

DS lugged said object to school on the bus and brought it home the same day. Apparently everyone displayed their castles, shook them to see how robust they were, voted on the top two (to stay at school and be entered into the year group competition). And that was it. No marking, no nothing.

Someone had built one out of wood and that didn't make the top two so home it went. Its maker was, unsuprisingly, gutted that all that effort went unappreciated.

rudolphdrops Tue 10-Dec-13 17:18:08

Ah well, that's life for you.

Bonsoir Tue 10-Dec-13 17:21:55

DD (Y5) has the Great Explorers as her history topic this term. She has built a model of the Santa Maria; it has been one of the highlights of school!

I think model building is hugely useful, personally. In fact, I buy DD Lego Architecture kits almost compulsively. And dolls houses. And cardboard kits of all sorts of things.

nonmifairidere Tue 10-Dec-13 17:44:55

Soooo glad I had teachers (and parents) with more imagination and insight than OP. Replies on this thread are wasted on her, however, as she knows best.

Swanhilda Tue 10-Dec-13 21:57:31

Chippy I think that is terrible. They should have the decency to keep them for two weeks, so that everyone gets the chance to see them. Surely the whole point of school projects is to inspire those in lower and higher classes? And what did shaking achieve except to make all the bits fly off? I hate competitions of that sort where children vote. Teacher should choose.

ChippyMinton Tue 10-Dec-13 22:09:45

I suppose they don't have room for 180 castles, but even so, to return them the same day was a bit sad.

Mind you, as the teacher won't remember it, I'm going to put it in the loft until DC2 needs it. A coat of paint, some new flags... <legs it> grin

Verycold Tue 10-Dec-13 22:32:07

Agree with Swanhilda. Really feel for those children who invested a lot, for it not to be recognized at all!

Chippy, excellent plan to keep for recycling wink

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