Active History Ww1 Causes Essay

This formal outcome of this unit of study is a video project answering the question "What Caused the American Civil War?". It is followed by a deeper interactive investigation of the question "Why did the Union win the Civil War?"

A. Research and Analysis Phase

Teacher's Introductory Slideshow
The teacher uses this worksheet to help introduce students to the main themes, events and personalities. To be used in conjunction with the student worksheet below.

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Students' Timeline Worksheet - preparation for the videomaking task
Students are guided through the main events leading up to the Civil War using this timeline, which should be used in conjunction with specified clips from the first episode of Ken Burns' excellent documentary about the American Civil War. At appropriate times they should have time to locate extra images and information that they will use to help produce their own video documentary later on.

Timeline Challenge: The Causes of the American Civil War
Organise the class 5 teams. Display the first event by clicking the button. All the students should copy this information into their worksheet. The first team can play for up to 10 points depending on their confidence. They have to not only identify the mistake in the account, but correct it. If they do so successfully, they gain the amount of points they played for. If they fail, they lose the same amount of points. Proceed to the second event, for the second team, and continue this format until all the slips are used. The winning team is the team with the most points.

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Video Project - What were the Causes of the American Civil War?
This markscheme is designed to help students produce an effective video documentary about the Civil War using the information they have so far gathered. Examples of student projects are shown below.

Student Project Example: By Bettina at the International School of Toulouse

Student Project Example: By Christina and Sara at the International School of Toulouse

B. [Optional] - History Mystery

History Mystery: The Causes of the American Civil War
This unit is in the form of an ActiveHistory Mystery [more]. Through a roleplay, stimulus images and information slips, students formulate questions, speculate answers, then research for themselves to produce a report which is then peer-assessed against a standard markscheme. The full investigation takes 2 hours of classroom time and at least another hour of individual research time.

If teachers wish to deliver this unit in less time, it is easy to do so. For example:
(a) Simply give each student a complete sheet of information slips from the outset to answer the questions;
(b) Don't require students to produce a full written essay on the topic - instead, simply choose one of the Extension / Additional Activities listed below.

Discussion points to follow:
a. If you had to divide 100% of blame for the outbreak of the civil war between the slave states and the free states, what percentage would you allocate to each side? Explain your answer.
b. At what point did the civil war become inevitable? Explain your answer.

Extension Tasks

What should we call the American Civil War?
Students are presented with a long list of alternative names that have been used for the American Civil War. They organise these into suggested categories, compare their ideas with a partner, and then choose what they feel is the best alternative title.


© 1998-2018 Russel Tarr, Limited (Reg. 6111680)
High Park Lodge, Edstaston Wem, Shropshire, England, SY4 5RD. Telephone/Fax: 01939 233909
All rights reserved

Origins of Warfare

This short unit is designed to help students compare and contrast a wide range of 20th Century conflicts. Students will engage in individual research, paired presentations and a teacher-led session on the historiography of war. They will then use their findings to produce a detailed essay.

This unit on the origins of warfare is completed in five steps:
1. Researching one war individually
2. Working with a partner to identify comparisons and contrasts between two wars
3. Paired presentations to the class so that everyone gets a full set of notes
3. Assessing which key historiographical explanations for war match our findings
4. Writing an essay which brings all of our theories together in a coherent argument

Individual Research Task: In-depth analysis of one war
Each student in the class is given a different war to focus on taken from the IB syllabus, and asked to analyse it in terms of key themes of causation (e.g. political, military, socio-economic).

Paired Feedback and Presentation Task: Comparisons and Contrasts between two wars
Students then compare and contrast their allocated conflict with that of a partner to start drawing out some key areas of comparison and contrast. This is followed by a whole-class discussion to start identifying some common themes for consideration.

Teacher-led activity: Historiography on the Origins of Warfare
Students are provided with a detailed breakdown of six key schools of historiographical thought relating to the origins of wars. Using their knowledge of a wide range of wars students decide which wars could be used to illustrate each theory. This then leads towards the final essay being produced.

Model Essays from RJ Tarr [teacher password required]

The following two essays could be shared with students after they have produced their own work.

Compare and contrast the role of ideology in causing two 20th-century wars, each chosen from a different region
"Although at face value very different conflicts, the Spanish Civil War and the Vietnam War were strikingly similar in a number of important ways: not least the central role played by ideology in precipitating the outbreak of the conflict. This essay will seek to demonstrate..."

What were the most frequent causes of 20th-century wars?
"The 20th Century was defined by two World Wars which brought havoc upon civilization unprecedented in human history, and in the continued instability of the 21st century a study of their causes – and how to avoid them - is an essential method of working for peace. Yet they were only two conflicts amongst many other tragedies such as the Chinese Civil War, the Spanish Civil War and the Russian Civil War..."


© 1998-2018 Russel Tarr, Limited (Reg. 6111680)
High Park Lodge, Edstaston Wem, Shropshire, England, SY4 5RD. Telephone/Fax: 01939 233909
All rights reserved

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