Reflection on Global History Unit 5: Revolutions

This is the first unit we’ve done this year that I’m not happy with overall.  There were some really good things that occurred, specifically our work around more advanced documents and historical analysis, but overall, I think we got more wrong than we got right.  Most of the small lessons went well, but the meat of the unit around the French Revolution was off.  We also didn’t do nearly enough at the end to synthesize all the different strands we had investigated.

Things We Got Right

  • We focused our students’ learning on a clearly defined set of skills (those necessary to analyze complex and conflicting documents) that had clear assessments that enabled us to measure student growth and to give students clear feedback.
  • Students improved their writing and historical thinking during the unit.
  • Students gained a thorough understanding of the causes of the French Revolution.
  • The Enlightenment Socratic Seminar was our best one yet.
  • I really liked beginning the unit with the Revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia. Students were engaged, and it enabled the unit to have some extra relevancy.
  • The Columbus and Haitian Revolution lessons were highly successful.

Things We Got Wrong That Are Easy to Fix

  • Change the “Causes of the Renaissance” lesson to something else.  The History Alive lesson didn’t really fit into our unit.  Although the lesson was successful, we could have used better materials suited to lead students to think about changes in society more explicitly.
  • We used 20 documents for the Scientific Revolution lessons; that should’ve been half that amount.
  • Students were not ready to analyze the data we used for Caribbean slavery. We either need to front-load that lesson more or find another way to investigate the topic.

Things We Got Wrong That Need to Be Redone

  • We needed to adapt the Choices French Revolution materials.  There was too much reading that overly-emphasized what happened before 1791, and therefore, we hardly discussed the Reign of Terror and Napoleon.  We needed to cut the first three days down to one, and perhaps made the simulation take place at a latter point in the Revolution than Choices had it.
  • There needed to be more at the end to synthesize all the different understandings around revolutions.  We did all the setup work for some amazing conversations that we never had.

Unit Materials

Previous Unit Reflections


3 thoughts on “Reflection on Global History Unit 5: Revolutions

  1. godd stuff, as usual (i honestly don’t know how you keep up…though, besides time, a parent issue/non-tenure status has contributed to my blog silence for the moment)…i’ve had to adapt choices stuff, too, including the french revolution unit…even their “alternate 3-day plans” needs tweaking sometimes, but they do have some really good ideas and materials; i used a shorter version the atomic bomb one this year to replace what i normally do, and i think i’m staying w/it for next year…and i really like your thematic approach to world; we do it in our SLC’s and USI, but it’s been hard getting US2 on board — the Global classes (ninth grade) do a unit on geography and culture, and then a unit based on each region; i think this approach would be something good to try – i’m going to refer them to your stuff…be well, comrade


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