Using graphs to ‘see’ time

I had a two minute one-on-one conversation with every one of my year 10s today to see how they were finding the jump between KS3 and GCSE History.

“What are you finding the most difficult?” “Is there anything that frightens you?” “How do you want me to help?”

Inevitably when you ask those questions, you end up getting the same answers again and again. The usual fear of exams and writing in timed conditions, alongside the vast quantity of content that they are suddenly expected to remember are amongst those. However, one that I did not expect to see so frequently was the issue of chronology.

Crime and Punishment is one of those long 500 year modules and my students are finding it particularly difficult to ‘see’ time and to come to grips with the notion of change and continuity. Last week, I spotted what I thought would be a really useful revision tool.


@MissNHistory posted these graphs completed by students that I really liked. They show the rate of change over time in a way that is really easy for the students to see and comprehend. I thought I’d have a go at creating some of these for the topics that require students to understand reform and then again for an overview at the end of the unit.

I have made a blank sheet for the students to fill in about the Bloody/Criminal Code and how radical the steps taken to reform it were, but I have also made a couple of completed ones too for them to be inspired by.


The first one I created was a bar chart style graph which demonstrates the severity of the reforms both by the height of the bars and by colour coding. I liked this one because it’s visually stimulating and quite neat and easy to read. However, I didn’t think the severity of the reforms of the 30s and early 40s quite hit home enough in this chart. Again inspired by one of the charts I had seen above, I moved on to a line graph.

Line graph.png

This is my favourite of the two. Though it is a little harder to track the dates and reforms in tandem, I think this graph will really demonstrate to the students the suddenness with which these reforms took flight.

Hopefully, they appreciate my effort tomorrow afternoon!

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