This enquiry starts with students posing 7 expert historical questions, stimulated by a graph.  They then set about investigating their questions using a set of written clues supported by a PowerPoint presentation.  Not only do students pose their own questions about the start of the cattle industry boom, they also learn to ask important questions about the limitations of using the graph as evidence for answering the question.  Does it cover enough years?  Does it look at all geographical areas?

Students then watch a short video clip to see how effectively it answers their questions.  The outcome is that students add a further 3 minute commentary to the film producing a deeper explanation. The emphasis here is not just on listing reasons but tackling the crucial difference between necessity and sufficiency in causation. The most able are further challenged by asking them counterfactual questions: what if there had been no McCoy; the Indians hadn’t been placed on reservations; there had not been a recent Civil War etc?

Learning objectives

  • Students develop the ability to pose significant historical questions;
  • they are able to see limitations in using information presented as a graph;
  • all students can find, and explain, at least 4
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