Class-based COLLABORATION – in VCE History Revolutions

Ways of sharing

When working through a subject, such as History: Revolutions, it is difficult to get the base knowledge mastered, yet the course requires students to consider different ways of looking at the same events in order to more deeply understand the range of perspectives from the time and the multitude of ways that historians have interpreted them.

The situation is exacerbated when the class is very small. In my class, we spend about 1/3 of our lesson time each week working together to collect and then analyse what we have found. I explain to the students that we can work more effectively together to maximise data collection, then give feedback to the collectors in terms of content and coverage of the topic.

It is a number of years ago since I first tried this with a class of 7 with the intention of getting my students thinking. That attempt is detailed here.

This worked brilliantly with the class concerned, but the next time I tried was unsuccessful as a number of students wanted to be silly.

Yesterday, I tried again and it was wonderful. here’s how the lesson unfolded

Step 1:

First I set a potential essay topic (selected to target the earliest part of the course): “How significant were preexisting tensions as a cause of the French Revolution of 1789?” Students were asked to work out the key topic words for each paragraph – could be four or five. Results looked like this once they were stacked in order of discussion.

Step 2:

Once the main concepts were stacked in paragraph order, I asked them to choose one main topic and use 3 small blocks to indicate the content of the sentences within the paragraph for that keyword.

Step 3:

Mind map in the same pairs as before what the essay will cover overall, using all class ideas to this point.

Step 4:

Providing feedback to the other teams on their mind map.


Students went home to write their planned essay over the weekend. The results were very pleasing – the longest first essays I have seen in many years of teaching this subject. Well done to all of them!

One thought on “Class-based COLLABORATION – in VCE History Revolutions

  1. Pingback: Collaboration – Margaret Simkin

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