Included here are 4 distinct smart tasks which could be used in various combinations at AS and A2 level. They vary from laying odds on the outcome of the leadership contest, and working out why Stalin triumphed using influence cards, to critiquing a modern explanation written for sixth formers and finally charting how and why historical opinion has changed over the last 90 years.

Smart Task 1: Backing the right horse

Slide 2 of the PowerPoint shows a horse race with the five leading contenders. The students have to work out the odds on each of the big five becoming leader after Lenin’s death. Slide 3 taken from a GCSE textbook shows the overall idea. Can the A level students come up with a more sophisticated analysis? Slides 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 offer a simple set of bullet points about each candidate to initiate the discussion. Students then work in small groups to explore the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate using resources available within the department. Michael Lynch’s Stalin’s Russia 1924-53, (Hodder, 2008), offers a good starting point. Groups then share their views and come up with a class consensus of the odds. You then play

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