Six degree of separation chains

This idea was inspired by two sources –

  • From the Six Degrees of Separation idea which I found from Zoe Elder’s Full On Learning, which I included in my own book, 100 Ideas for Secondary Teachers: Revision.
  • The excellent idea from @lamb_heart_tea who is setting a CPD challenge each week called, Mission Possible, by including an object as part of one’s pedagogy. This week’s challenge was –

Six degrees of separation, the principle that everyone and anything is no more than six steps (or fewer) away from each other can be used as a framework to link and sequence items of knowledge for reviewing purposes. I used an adaption of this idea in that by using pipe cleaners and card students could make a Six degrees of Separation chain connecting events and knowledge on particular aspects of a topic.

In this context, I grouped the students into pairs or threes and set each group a different area of a topic to study giving them an event they had to start their chain with and an event on which to end their chain. In their groups, students then had to create a chain of connected events in six steps, including the start and end they had been given. Once they had decided their chain, they had to record this on their record sheet explaining at each stage the connections they made. This record sheet could be used as evidence of their work in their files. Then using card and pipe cleaners, they would make their six degree of separation chains. On each card students needed to include the event and a happy or unhappy face on whether they event had a good or bad impact on the country they were studying. To add greater challenge, students had to use a red pipe cleaner to highlight on their chain which they thought was the turning point or most significant event.

Once the chains were completed, they were then hung on a coat hanger and then presented to the rest of the class. The presentation must include the following points –

  • An outline of the chain, giving a step by step explanation of the events.
  • Based on their happy or unhappy faces, the overall impact the events had on the country studied.
  • Which event was the turning point and why?

This activity made for a great reviewing and revision session which students found engaging and demanding as it required many of the higher order thinking skills, such as decision making, sequencing and connecting knowledge, required for exam success. What follows below are the resources, I used for the activity – a record sheet and an adaptable PowerPoint presentation – the lesson was an A Level session on the foreign policy of Elizabeth I.

Six degrees of separation – Elizabeth I and foreign policy

The six degrees of separation – Elizabeth I and foreign policy


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