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Henry VIII – the Glory Trail?

This activity appeared in my book The Tudor Century way back in 1993 as a straightforward decision-making activity, designed to introduce A level students to most of the key moments in Henry VIII’s reign. Looking back at it twenty years later I think it could still be used as an introduction or as a concluding or revision activity. Here are some suggestions – it’s obviously up to you and the nature of the group whether the activities are done individually, in pairs or threes.

As An Introduction:

a) students tackle this as a decision-making activity, noting down their choices and the reasons for them on each sheet. You could then use their choices as the basis for discussion of their agreements and disagreements, what they’ve learned about the key issues of the reign etc. What questions do they want to ask about Henry’s reign?

b) students then research what Henry actually did, how difficult each decision was and why he chose the options that he did. On their sheets they note down what they’ve found out with details of events etc that determined Henry’s choices. They should then stand back a little and think about what they’ve learned – what did they get wrong first-time round and why? What’s surprised them?

As A Conclusion / For Revision:

a) try the decision-making activity without books, students filling in the sheets with the reasons for the choices as well as the choices.

b) check their own ‘answers’, marking their own work [or swap sheets with a friend] so that they increase their sense of responsibility for their own learning. At the end they must write a summary of what they need to do to consolidate their understanding and knowledge, picking out individual events or issues that they are not so confident about.

You could also ask students to choose another 3 key decisions that Henry faced which have not been included here and to write two or three options to go with those decisions. This would test their overall understanding of the major events and the pattern of the reign.

Debriefing Possibilities

Whether used as introduction or conclusion:

• Summarise the main issues that faced Henry during his reign

• Which of the decisions were the most straightforward and the most complex/difficult?

• Why was glory so important to Henry and when did he come closest to achieving it?

• What have you learned about Henry’s character and abilities as king?

• What questions do you want answered about Henry?

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For the student resource file [ click here ]

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Constructive feedback is always welcome, particularly anything that will help other teachers.

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