The Reformation / Witchcraft

A. The Reformation

1. Decision Making Simulation: Are you a Lutheran, a Catholic or a Radical?
This simulation really encourages students to reflect on which points of view make most sense to them personally, especially because at the end of it they are provided with follow-up questions which the computer tailors specifically to their individual responses.
Are you a Lutheran or a Catholic?

Martin LutherEITHER
2. Classroom Discussion: Lutherans, Catholics and Radicals
The teacher leads a discussion based around what the students learned from the simulation. The class thereby gets a full picture of what each of the three religious groups believed on each of the key issues. This is important because the simulation will tell students which group they sympathise with, but will not summarise the differences between the groups.

3. Role Play: Protestants and Catholics
This is a simpler version of the same exercise. The teacher comes into class in role firstly as Luther, then as Pope Leo X, answering a series of tough questions about their faith in a way designed to persuade the audience that their faith is the "right" one. The class takes a vote at the end.

Students should do one of the following tasks:
(a) Produce a written piece answering the question "What did the Protestants and the Catholics disagree about?" OR
(b) Produce a propaganda poster - using only images, no words - summarising the main beliefs of one of the three religious groups. The class could be divided into three groups (Lutherans, Catholics, Radicals) and then each member within each group could be given a different area to focus on - Bible, Eucharist, Priesthood and so on.

4. The life of Martin Luther - Design a film trailer! | Factual Test
It's a great story - and in this activity, students use a timeline to produce a Hollywood Film Poster advertising a new blockbuster about the life of the Reformation giant. Focusing on the cast list, the film title and the key events of his life, it can be great fun. This cast list PowerPoint Template gets students thinking about which actors they want to play the key characters (there is also a completed version, with ideas for inspiration). For added spice, insist that half of the class need to make a film very hostile to Luther, whilst the other half will be highly sympathetic. Here is a sample poster produced by one of my students, and here is a video trailer produced by another:


5. KeyWord Challenge: The Reformation
If you are unfamiliar with the format of the game, click here for instructions. Alternatively, students could complete this Factual Test based on the timeline of Luther's life.

B. Witchcraft!

1. PowerPoint Show - Witchcraft
A simple starter activity: is each picture shown about how witches are created, how they are caught, how they are punished?

2. Introduction: Religion, Superstition and Witchcraft.
Students start with Task 1, followed by a classroom discussion, just to get them thinking. Then, they place their worksheet face down on the table and I write this question on the board:  "When was the last witch executed?". Students turn their sheets back over, and a merit is awarded for the person who first shouts out the correct answer. Then, repeat with a second question: "Who wrote the 1590 book on witchcraft?". Then, we read through the account together before proceeding to the main activity (a piece of display work).

By the way, it's a nice idea to have some decent background music - "Witchcraft" by Frank Sinatra, "I ain't Superstitious" by Howlin' Wolf, "Good Luck Charm" / "You're the Devil in Disguise" by Elvis Presley...!

3. A Classroom Witch Trial - Lesson Plan and Evidence Slips
4. A Classroom Witch Trial - Trial Record Sheet
Always one of the highlights of the Year 8 course! With some students taking on the role of women accused of witchcraft, others acting as defence counsel, and others as prosecution lawyers, this is a lively unit which really helps students to understand the difference between facts, opinions and bias. After the classroom vote on who was "most guilty", it would be good fun to put the "victim" through the "water test" - ie pour a small glass of water over their head, declare them guilty as charged, and then "brand" them with the word "witch" across their forehead in board marker.

5. An Interview with Matthew Hopkins, WitchFinder General!
In this activity, students read through the 14 questions posed in Matthew Hopkins' "The Discovery of Witches", choose the 5 questions the think will put the Witchfinder General in the tightest spot, then the teacher provides the answers which were originally given by Hopkins. Follow-up questions (and the suggestion that the Blackadder Episode Witchsmeller Persuivant be watched!) are provided.

6. Sourcework: Witchcraft!
As the assessed piece of work, students complete this sourcework exercise.


c. Consolidation

1. Religious events in the Early Modern Period
Before moving on to the next topic of study, this activity gets students to investigate a wide range of other events going on in Europe at the same time as the Lutheran Reformation. In this way they get a useful overview of the entire period rather than merely a narrow view of one or two events.

d. General Interactive exercises



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