Lesson Plan

Reign of Terror - Primary Source Analysis Activity

Stanford History Education Group's (SHEG) Resources, Modified, Analyzing Primary Sources in the Flipped Classroom
Chris C.
Classroom teacher
Concordia International School Shanghai
Pudong, 31
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My Grades 9, 10, 11, 12
My Subjects Social Studies
Objectives

Students will be able to...

... Analyze primary source documents for their context, content, and significance to a historical period/event

... Craft a written argument using evidence and analysis

Subjects
Social Studies
Grades 9 - 12
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Reign of Terror - Day 1

Activity: Investigating

Prepare copies of the timeline and primary sources from the following link:

http://sheg.stanford.edu/reign-of-terror

Also,  either have a classroom set of textbooks or copy the section of the textbook that speaks to the Reign of Terror. This is important for gaining context.

First, introduce the activity by having the students examine the time line and read the textbook porttion. 

Lead the class either in a small group or a whole class discussion built around these questions:

1. According to the textbook, why did the Jacobins have so many enemies?

2. Robespierre and his supporters created a new calendar. Why would they want to wipe out “every trace of France’s past?”

3. According to the textbook, Robespierre believed terror helped French citizens remain true to the ideals of the Revolution. What were the ideals of the French Revolution? (Use what you already know about the French Revolution to answer this question).

4. Based on the textbook excerpt, do you think the Committee of Public Safety protected the Revolution from its enemies?

Distribute Decree Against Profiteers, the first of two primary sources from the above link.

Lead the class or small groups in discussing the following questions:

1.  (Contextualization) Why did the Committee of Public Safety pass the Decree Against Profiteers?

2.  (Contextualization) Why did the Committee of Public Safety consider monopoly to be such a serious crime? (Hint: Think back to the ideals of the French Revolution).

3.  (Close reading) What was the punishment for those who did not comply with this law?

4. Based on the Decree Against Profiteers, do you think the Committee of Public Safety protected the Revolution from its enemies? 

Distribute the Law of Suspects, and lead the class again through a discussion built around the questions:

1. What was the goal of the Law of Suspects?

2. (Close reading) List two examples of people who would have been considered suspects. Explain why the Committee of Public Safety would have considered them suspects.

3. What might the leaders of the Committee of Public Safety have said to justify this law? 

4. Based on the Law of Suspects, do you think the Committee of Public Safety protected the Revolution from its enemies?

If you wish to extend this activity to a second day, then consider giving the students the below prompt:

The Committee of Public Safety was established to protect the Revolution from its enemies. Based on the Decree Against Profiteers and the Law of Suspects, do you think the Committee of Public Safety actually protected the Revolution from its enemies?

Tomorrow you will write a paragraph, using evidence from the documents to support your claims (i.e. assertions, i.e. thesis). 

Student Instructions

Background:

Over four years after the start of the French Revolution, France descended into a period commonly known as the “Reign of Terror,” when over 16,000 people were executed for allegedly opposing the Revolution. The Reign of Terror began when the Committee of Public Safety took over the National Convention, the third government that had been established since the start of the French Revolution. The timeline below lists the governments and major reforms that were established under each. 

Examine the timeline (distributed by teacher). Note when various phases of the Reign of Terror take place. 

Read your textbook's description of the Reign of Terror. This source is a secondary source, written by scholars, and is based on the ir understanding of primary sources and other secondary sources. 

After reading, discuss the following questions with your classmates:

1. According to the textbook, why did the Jacobins have so many enemies?

2. Robespierre and his supporters created a new calendar. Why would they want to wipe out “every trace of France’s past?”

3. According to the textbook, Robespierre believed terror helped French citizens remain true to the ideals of the Revolution. What were the ideals of the French Revolution? (Use what you already know about the French Revolution to answer this question).

4. Based on the textbook excerpt, do you think the Committee of Public Safety protected the Revolution from its enemies?

Read Decree Against Profiteersand discuss the following questions:

1.  (Contextualization) Why did the Committee of Public Safety pass the Decree Against Profiteers?

2.  (Contextualization) Why did the Committee of Public Safety consider monopoly to be such a serious crime? (Hint: Think back to the ideals of the French Revolution).

3.  (Close reading) What was the punishment for those who did not comply with this law?

4. Based on the Decree Against Profiteers, do you think the Committee of Public Safety protected the Revolution from its enemies? 

Read the Law of Suspects, and contribute to the discussion built around the questions below:

1. What was the goal of the Law of Suspects?

2. (Close reading) List two examples of people who would have been considered suspects. Explain why the Committee of Public Safety would have considered them suspects.

3. What might the leaders of the Committee of Public Safety have said to justify this law? 

4. Based on the Law of Suspects, do you think the Committee of Public Safety protected the Revolution from its enemies?

 

2 Reign of Terror - Young Historians Make An Argument

Activity: Creating

This class period is dedicated to students crafting their own argument in response to the promt (below).

The rubric that I use, and that students should have access to, can be found at this link: https://inquirybasedteaching.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/paragraph-check...

The Committee of Public Safety was established to protect the Revolution from its enemies. Based on the Decree Against Profiteers and the Law of Suspects, do you think the Committee of Public Safety actually protected the Revolution from its enemies?

Students will write a paragraph, using evidence from the documents to support their claims (i.e. assertions, i.e. thesis). 

Depending upon where the students' skills are, you may wish to expand this lesson to explain what a thesis statement is, or how to use evdeince from the texts and analysis of the evidence to build a case for their thesis.

These links may assist you in developing the skills of your students:

Some ideas on teaching Thesis statements: http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/composition/thesis.htm

A nice overview of the components of a powerful paragraph from Yale: http://writing.yalecollege.yale.edu/components-successful-essay

Student Instructions

Work with your teacher to craft a powerful argument that responds to th following prompt: 

The Committee of Public Safety was established to protect the Revolution from its enemies. Based on the Decree Against Profiteers and the Law of Suspects, do you think the Committee of Public Safety actually protected the Revolution from its enemies?

Write a paragraph, using evidence from the documents to support your claims (i.e. assertions, i.e. thesis).