Module 2: Investigating History

Section 1: Investigating family histories

Key Focus Question: How can you structure small-group activities in your classroom to develop collaborative working and build self-confidence?

Keywords: family; history; confidence; investigation; small-group work; discussion

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this section, you will have:

  • structured your activities to help pupils understand themselves and their relationships with other family members;
  • used small-group discussions to build pupils’ self-confidence as they investigate their family histories.


Good teaching often starts by encouraging pupils to explore situations that they are already familiar with. In terms of history, this means using their own lives, and the lives of their immediate families, as a source of investigation. The skills used to explore this familiar history can then be used in the study of broader historical questions.

All of us have a history, which starts from the moment we are born. This will include all our experiences and all the people we interact with.

In this section, you start by exploring your pupils’ immediate family situations and their roles and responsibilities within the family. You will also look at the wider context of the extended family. As you work in this area, you will have to be sensitive to different backgrounds and family or other structures that your pupils live in.

1. Working in groups to discuss families