A teaching technique I found during the Summer Holiday which I put to quick use this term was something in the Kindle ebook by Mark Cowan which he called Shopping Basket Answers. Here, Cowan suggests this task comes in three stages –
1. Pre-prepare a list of key terms/factors associated with an issue. For fellow historians, this could be factors to do with the rise of Hitler or reasons why the Liberals introduced their welfare reforms.
2. Once the factors have been decided, you then add a price tag to each factor with the price depending upon its importance to the topic. For instance, on the Rise of Hitler a price list such as what follows might be helpful –
Treaty of Versailles – £2, Great Depression – £3, Proportional Representation – £1, Divided opposition – £2, Hitler – £4, Wall Street Crash – £2, Nazi Propaganda – £1, Use of technology £1, Support of industrialists – £2.
3. Give the students a limit to spend in your ‘History Shop’ such as £7. With this budget, students decide what factors they would have to buy with the set overall question in mind, for example, what were the most important reasons why Hitler and the Nazis rose to power in 1934?
4. Provide a shopping list sheet for students to write down their choices and the reasons why they have chosen each factor.
5. The de-brief for this task is crucial. Key questions to ask are –
Were the prices fair?
Would you adjust the prices for any factors?
Would you use any special offers, such as BOGOF? What difference would this have made to your decisions?
Also during this activity, it is important to tease out that completing the shopping list properly is in effect constructing and effective essay plan with the key factor the theme of the paragraph and the reasons why you have selected it as the key judgement within the paragraph.
I have so far used this with my Year 10 and 11 groups in the early lessons for this academic year. It has provided a good warm up for Year 11 connecting last term’s work with what is about to follow. For Year 10 it has provided a different and interactive way of introducing a new theme or potential question in the exam. For both groups, this has been a stimulating activity and provoke lively debate in which students have offered cogent and relevant insights into a topic which may have been left dormant under a traditional note making exercise.
What follows are my resources for both lessons I have used this strategy so far. The shopping list proforma can be used for any lesson with this technique. The two PowerPoints provides a framework for others to follow if they want to try something different.