Elizabeth Gaskell’s House: Summary


Supervised By: Dr Juliette Wilson-Thomas & Sally Jastrzebski-Lloyd (House Manager at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House)

In this project, we will create resources and activities to support enhanced educational experiences at one of Manchester’s most significant heritage sites: Elizabeth Gaskell’s House. This house is the restored home of Manchester’s most famous Victorian author, best known for writing North and South, Cranford and Mary Barton. She lived at the house from 1850 until her death in 1865 and hosted visits from many of her contemporaries including Charles Dickens, Florence Nightingale and Charlotte Bronte. Despite being dismissed in her time as too ‘feminine’ to properly articulate the real issues of the world, Gaskell is also now know as an early influencer in the areas of social justice and feminism. The house is currently funded by Heritage Lottery Funding until July 2018 and within this funding there is an emphasis on working with families and the local community.

Staff at the house would like EdLab students to develop a range of resources that could be used by the house when children visit with their families, or on school trips. They would like the resources to include self-guided activities that will engage children and their families and help them to learn about the house, Elizabeth’s literature and Victorian Manchester. There is also an opportunity to develop online activities to be hosted through the organisation’s website. You will be welcome to visit the house and meet visitors – and as part of your project, you will be expected to pilot your sessions and resources, gathering feedback and making improvements. A budget has been made available for the production of resources, and there is additional expertise amongst the EdLab team to support online development.

The project is based upon the pedagogic value to learning in diverse spaces and places, as well as the immersive and experiential potential for engagement with learning that these provide. Through this project you will explore in  greater depth what it means to learn outside of the classroom, and gain experience in developing educational resources for all ages to engage learners with literacy, history and social issues. Student participants in this project can come from any discipline or area as there is a certain freedom within this context to take the project where you want!

For more information on the house see – www.elizabethgaskellhouse.co.uk


Farewell, And Thanks For All The Fish

This is a final well done message, and a reminder about submission requirements for assignments.

Full details of your assignments and how to submit are on your Moodle areas. But here are the key links so you have them all in one email.
–          And this is an exemplar.


EdLab Conference #3

EdLab Conference 24th March – 10am to 3pm
Agenda for Conference #3

10.00 Introductory Lecture: Assessment Orientations (Mark Peace and Mick Chesterman) Lecture Theatre 3

In this introductory session, we will revisit the assessment principles and requirement for the unit, and give some guidance on the kinds of forms that assessments can take.

11.00 Assignment Workshops

You will then move into your project teams, to begin to interrogate the substance, focus and form your assessment submissions will take. We want this session to give you space to actually get stuff done – so please bring along a device, and anticipate making a dent in working on your submission. Groups will report to the following rooms:

Elizabeth Gaskell’s House – BR 2.15 with John Lean
Early Years Explorers – BR 2.10 with Sean Mitchell
Environmental Play – BR 2.19 with Rachel Summerscales
The Language of Clay – BR 2.16 with Elle Simms
The Oubliette – BR 2.17 with Mark Peace
Mobilise Grimm and Co – BR 2.17 with Lauren Ash
The Game Makers – BR 2.18 with Mick Chesterman

In addition, we put on an additional workshop in BR 2.18 for students who have not engaged well enough in the process so far to feel confident in producing their assignments. It is important that you have identified yourselves to Mick Chesterman (m .chesterman @ mmu.ac.uk) ahead of the day.

13.00 Project Team Meetings / Working Lunch

The final hour of the day will be given over to project teams to continue any final development work on their planned outreach activity. Bring a packed lunch so that you can continue to work through this hour!

14.00 Ad Hoc Tutorials / Focused Session for the Students ‘Catching Up’ – 2.18/2.17

The remaining hour will be given over to allow further one-to-one support for students who need it, and for students ‘catching up’ with Mick to continue their development work.

If you do not need extra support, at this point, you are free to work independently on your assignment either in the spaces we have booked, or elsewhere.

15.00 END




Some (Further) Academic Context

Now that your projects have matured a little further, it is constructive to read and think a little more in depth about the relationship between your practice and academic theory relating to pedagogy. Here I have highlighted three themes which seem significant in your projects:

Literacy & Learning Outside the Classroom

‘Eloise’s news January 28th

Our babby brother jams Michel

was born on crismas day

and i wrote about it in my news

but all my teacher did

was put in capitals and full stops

and corect my spelling.’

(Sedwick, 2012, p9)

Many of you are interested in the obvious literacy aspect afforded by the setting, as well as the opportunity for children to be immersed in a learning environment outside of the classroom. In difference to the excerpt above, being outside of the classroom, or more traditional educational institutions with their rules and practices, can afford learners and teachers the space to do something different; to value something different. There are many texts and articles written on this subject, and some of the following may help you to consider this element of your project with more depth:

  • Sedgwick, F. 2012, Learning outside the primary classroom, Routledge, London- available in e-book format from the library
  • Waite, S. 2011, Children learning outside the classroom: from birth to eleven, SAGE, Thousand Oaks, CA;London;.
  • Qualters, D.M. 2010, Experiential education: making the most of learning outside the classroom, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, Calif.
  • Sobel, David. 2013  Place-Based Education: Connecting Classrooms and Communities.
    2nd ed. Orion Nature Literacy Series. Orion, Great Barrington,
  • Tzibazi, V. 2014, “Primary schoolchildren’s experiences of participatory theatre in a heritage site”, Education 3-13, vol. 42, no. 5, pp. 498-516.

Games in Education – Games-Based Learning/Play-Based Learning

For a number of you, you are introducing a game/play element to your project. For example, treasure hunts and quizzes. Whilst this is evidently an area in which you were immediately interested, and intuitively felt linked to an effective educational experience it is good to delve into this a pedagogical area with a bit more depth. Games and play in learning can be very effective, but they can also be superficial and ineffective. Here are some readings and a video case study to support your understanding of this area:

  • Fevre, D. (2012) Best New Games
  • Gee, J.P.  (2014) What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy by James Paul Gee
  • McGonigal, J. (2011) Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change The World
  • Salen, K. and Zimmerman, E. (2003) Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals
  • Whitton, N. and Moseley, A (2012) Using games to enhance learning and teaching: a beginners guide

Critical Pedagogy

A number of you are considering aspects of gender, socio-economic status and ethnicity in relation to literary education. In thinking about these aspects you are linking in with the theoretical area of critical pedagogy, which seeks to disrupt discriminate domination and homogeneity in education. For example, by creating education which opposes the oppression of women in society. Some of the following academic articles may help you to deepen your understanding and practice in this area:

  • Ghose, M. 2002, “Literacy, Power and Feminism”, Economic and Political Weekly, vol. 37, no. 17, pp. 1615-1620.
  • Mace, J. 1983, “Women Talking: Feminism and Adult Literacy Work”, Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies, vol. 7, no. 1, pp. 38-43.
  • Freire, P. 1996, Pedagogy of the oppressed, New rev. edn, Penguin, London.
  • Flynn, J. 2012, “Critical Pedagogy with the Oppressed and the Oppressors: Middle School Students Discuss Racism and White Privilege”, Middle Grades Research Journal, vol. 7, no. 2, pp. 95.
  • Makin, L. & Jones-Diaz, C. 2002, Literacies in early childhood: changing views, challenging practice, MacLennan & Petty, London;Sydney;.
  • Rie, S., Steensel, R.C.M. & Gelderen, A.J.S. 2017, “Implementation quality of family literacy programmes: a review of literature”, Review of Education, vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 91-118.
  • Anderson, J., Anderson, A. & Sadiq, A. 2017;2016;, “Family literacy programmes and young children’s language and literacy development: paying attention to families’ home language”, Early Child Development and Care, vol. 187, no. 3-4, pp. 644-654.
  • Hill, S. & Diamond, A. 2013, “Family literacy in response to local contexts”, Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, The, vol. 36, no. 1, pp. 48-55.

Task: Integrating Reading

Produce at least one blog post which responds to something from the texts shared above. Refer to the previous blog post for guidance on the way you should approach your reading – and remember; we’re not interested in what the paper says, we’re interested in the way you put it to work (how does it help you think about the things you’re doing in your project)

Half Term Reflections: Letter to my Real Life Hero

  • IMG_1598 In this session we got the chance to work through the proposed workshop materials and discuss how they aligned with the purpose of the activity. It was agreed that the elements of the workshop should work well within the setting of Elizabeth Gaskell’s House and will include:
  • A Treasure Hunt activity around the house in stead of a traditional tour
  • Discussion of clues and quotes from Gaskell’s writing which has relevance to themes of identity and gender today.
  • Exploration of Gaskell’s letters and friendships
  • The creation of a personal keepsake letter/poem/celebration for young people to give to their ‘real life hero’ – friend/inspiration who supports their healthy development of identity

These varied elements, game, trail, discussion of quotes, and creative writing should not only meet the purpose of personal, social, health education (PSHE) needs within secondary schools, but also link to the KS3 English curriculum in working with pupils on our varied literary heritage.

The task now is to make this happen with young people at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House!

Putting workshops together. Resources.

After our experiences today, I have stolen this video from the EdLab clay project which applies to our projects also. Look up the 7 Ps of planning effective workshops.

The Language of Clay

The 7 Ps of planning an effective workshop – https://ccskills.org.uk/careers/develop-your-career/article/the-7-ps-of-planning-effective-workshops

A short video to that shows the considerations taken to produce a meaningful experience. It goes with this worksheet. You may find this helpful, if not, there are other formats.

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Half Term Reflections: Quiz Masters Group

Unfortunately there was no one to test out ideas on in this session, which may be to do with the timing, description, or late promotion, it is hard to tell. However, there was a useful discussion, and useful progression points identified. Mainly it was regarding the need to be prepared for different circumstances, to make sure that there is enough to occupy children depending on their level of motivation and engagement. For example, having a warm up/starter activity planned. See the EdLab resources site for ideas: https://edlabtoolkit.wordpress.com/. Also regarding the need to test and prepare the technology to be used, to ensure there is no frustration for learners.

The progression points identified related to practical organisation i.e. planning and sorting out dates,, locations and people in good time, as well as more in depth and meticulous planning for the activity in order to retain a clear focus on the project which was to empower children to construct an direct their own learning, from within a non-classroom learning environment.

Useful Links

Constructivist theories of education

We also considered the element of social constructivism in your project, so it would be worth reading about Vygotsky and how learners can construct learning together through their interactions

In regards to your aim of pupil empowerment in the primary stages this may also be useful:

Reflections on Half Term Activities: The Victorians and Literacy Group

Family Literacy Focused Group

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There was a lot prepared for this activity which was good, and the interactive games, creation and writing activities stimulated active participation from all the children. The freedom of choice over writing at the end was encouraging and positive, and yielded a variety of written works, from cartoons to poems.

In building upon this experience it is important to focus on the purpose of the activity, enjoyment and engagement with literacy activities. The history element is there as part of the setting and inspiration for learning, but there is no need to present dense information on this, rather seek to build on the interactive experiences so that the children feel bursting to write about something.

Useful Links:

Research report on effective and inclusive practices in family literacy

Interesting perspective on history teaching and the need for practical engagement and student creation

Government report on the teaching of history in primary and secondary schools

Key stages 1 and 2 History Curriculum: 

“Pupils should be taught about significant historical events, people and places in their own locality”



First Thoughts – Gaskell House

edlab Project Blog: Kate Hedges


When first  hearing about the edlab project I was excited and a little bit nervous to be involved in a project based education team, as I have never done anything like this before.  I enjoy practical tasks and hands on involvement in things in general. Edlab provides me with the opportunity to do something different while studying for my degree.

I am a Manchester girl and lived in the surrounding area of  Gaskell House but never knew it existed until recently. I have studied Manchester and The City as one of my units and I focused on inspiring women from Manchester from past to present. I am very proud to be working with the historical home of Elizabeth Gaskell and the connotations behind her name and what she stood for has helped society progress in equal rights for women and the working class today. Two subjects very close to my…

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‘Treasure hunt’ development

Elizabeth Gaskell's House

Treasure hunt

After considering my options regarding what would make up my treasure hunt I have decided to use a selection of Gaskell’s well known texts and include a code from each text on the back of the laminated book cover along with a clue as to where to find the next ‘book’. I feel by doing this it will encourage the students to explore the house and offer a purpose to going from room to room as a form of starter activity and a gentle introduction to literature. Through introducing texts written by Gaskell herself alongside memorable quotes eluding to gender, class and personal identity students will get a feel for the Gaskell as a writer as well as sparking interest which may lead to reading her literary works.

The ending of the treasure hunt will be concluded in the dining room where Gaskell did a lot of her…

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