History - key historical ideas with evidence

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Achievement Standards 91230 and 91435

Providing a heading such as "social class" does not sufficiently communicate a "key historical idea", only a possible context for a key idea.

An example of an acceptable key idea based on social class would be:

"Social class was an important factor in Victorian England."

A further example: the word “nationalism” on its own does not sufficiently communicate a key historical idea. An example of a key idea based on nationalism would be,

"Nationalism was an important motivating force for the North Vietnamese during the 1960s."

Most commonly, a key idea appears as the topic sentence of a well-constructed paragraph. In such a paragraph, the rest of the paragraph will be expanding on the key idea and providing evidence that supports the key idea/topic sentence.

If students write paragraphs that contain few, if any, key ideas that writing is likely to be simple narrative, which does not meet the requirements of these two achievement standards.

The intention of the requirement to provide key ideas with supporting evidence is to ensure that students gain some understanding from the history they are studying and that they are seeing “big picture", or the "so what" of history. Communicating through key historical ideas, with supporting evidence for each idea, will require students to process the evidence they have found and communicate it in their own words, thus helping to ensure their understanding and prevent plagiarism of sources. 

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