To encourage students to connect factors together in a ‘chain of causation’, consider adopting a ‘Paper People’ approach. This involves getting the students to take each individual (or personify each factor – e.g. Nazi Propaganda could be personified as Goebbels) and connect them together as a chain of people.

The completed diagrams not only form the basis of a nice classroom display, but can also be used for essay planning: each link explained across the arms forms the ‘topic sentence’ of each paragraph and the ‘body’ of the paragraph is the ‘body’ of the person!

Here are the instructions I gave to my Year 9 historians after completing their ‘Balloon Debate‘ considering ‘Who was the most significant figure of the 19th Century?’:

“Ensure that your completed “Paper People” project:

  • Highlights at least FIVE key individuals within different categories we settled upon in our last lesson
  • Includes an image of each key character (e.g. the ‘face’ of each paper person)
  • Includes the name of each key character (e.g. across the ‘shoulders’ of the paper person)
  • Includes detail about the achievements of these key individuals (e.g. in the ‘body’ area of a ‘paper person)
  • Includes two key words to sum up the qualities of each person (e.g. in the ‘legs’ area)
  • Establishes connections between these people (e.g. on the ‘arms’ area linking the paper people together)
  • Merits  will be awarded as appropriate to the work containing the most detail, the clearest links, and the most attractive presentation.”


Taking it further

“Paper People” projects make a particularly good ‘hang from the ceiling’ classroom display: