Students work in pairs to answer a GCSE question. They have cards of relevant information to sort through to help prepare their answer. But there is a snag. The questions they have been given look similar but are not the same. The students have to work through the cards together, placing each in one of three piles:
1. Supports essay 1
2. Supports essay 2
3. Could be used to support both.
Essay 1: Why did the Indians lose control of the Great Plains?
Essay 2: Why were the settlers able to gain control of the Great Plains?
The purpose of this activity is to sharpen students’ skills of selection of relevant evidence. It is often too easy to throw everything they know at an answer. Here they have to justify the inclusion of each piece of evidence within a particular essay.
When students have sorted the cards together, for this is very much a collaborative task at this stage, they then set about answering their question. First they need to arrange the cards into a shape that will form the structure of the essay. How will they do this? By grouping? By linking? By prioritizing each? By singling out