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13 December 2015

Quick guide to historical significance

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2 December 2015

Stable or unstable? Accounting for patterns of change over time

I'm in the process of delivering the new AS History syllabus for the first time at the moment.  I've taught Russian history in the period 1881-1953 for many years now, but a change of exam boards from Edexcel to OCR means a change in the assessment arrangements for the unit.  Teachers familiar with the syllabus will know that two of the topics are flagged as 'interpretation topics'.  In terms of the AS examination, this means students will be presented with an interpretation which they are required to evaluate.  We're doing the ground work for this at the moment, investigating the period 1906-1914 with a view to assessing how stable the tsarist regime was before the onset of World War I.  In today's lesson, we were focusing on the potential threat to the regime posed by the industrial proletariat.

I wanted students to be able to identify changing patterns in worker unrest in the period, to account for these patterns and to begin to evaluate the degree to which they presented a threat to the tsarist government.  To achieve this, I did the following:

1. I equipped students with a chart and asked them to make a bar chart showing the number of strikes (both economic and political) across the period.  We then discussed this and identified the trend.

Bar chart & diagram

2. I gave students summary reading on the period and a set of 'change over time' cards.  Students were required to summarise changes which occurred over this timeframe in key areas (economic, social ... etc)

Summary reading

'Change over time' cards

3.  Students then cut and stuck their 'change over time' cards around their bar chart.  They had to consider links between the changes in different areas, and how they helped account for the changing pattern in industrial unrest.

4. Finally, students were presented with a number of statements (short interpretations) of the period.  Using the evidence they had gathered, they were required to judge the validity of each.

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