Examples of Methods: Annotated Time-lines:
This activity will be a fundamental exercise for students of this course. Given the scope of Chinese history and the dearth of prior knowledge most students have in this area, the time-line will provide a logical, systematic tool for students to use in order to establish fluency with the dynasties, people, ideas and events that detail this history. The timelines that students will develop in this course will be topical in nature, meaning students will examine a particular period for events relevant to a certain cultural, political or economic aspect of history.
Students will then be asked to examine the events in this period in light of the over-arching themes of the course, The Five Questions Facing China Today. Students will select one or more of the themes and evaluate their timelines in terms of each event's relevance to the selected theme. For items which strongly affect the theme, the students will write concise annotations detailing the event's significance to the theme and its relevance to the timeline's general topic. This process will provide students with a sense of the inter-relatedness of historic events and modern problems while deepening their understanding of the unit's topic. Finally, they will be developing a broadening foundation of historical fact which is necessary before higher-level skills such as analysis and evaluation can be employed.
In the particular case of the "Along the Silk Road" unit, the timeline will display a much broader range of information then simple sequence of events. This unit studies travel across and political control of the Silk Road. These time-lines will be two-dimensional. Time will be displayed along the vertical axis. Along the horizontal axis, students will plot the geographic control that various empires and kingdoms exerted over the region (see attached diagram). As the various kingdoms expand and contract, their space on the time-line will also vary. Events relating to each particular kingdom will be placed inside each kingdom's space, thus the time-line will express geography, the rise, the fall, and the duration of power, as well as ordering events chronologically