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Teaching Continuity and Change Over Time

Continuity and change over time (CCOT) is an important analytical tool in a historian’s toolbox. But teaching continuity and change over time can be difficult. Often, students spot the changes that take place from one era of history to the next rather quickly, but are not as skilled at recognizing the continuities. This lesson helps your students recognize the differences between continuities and changes and sparks lively discussion in your classroom. Don’t worry, there are plenty of resources included to help you teach this historical thinking practice, too!

Introductory Lesson
Students will define the terms continuity and change and become familiar with a CCOT tool that will help them decide if historical changes and continuities were positive or negative. Be warned: Spirited historical debates occur when using this tool!
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Teaching Tools
Students often require scaffolds to help them develop historical thinking practices like CCOT. Learn how to use the CCOT thinking tool to help your students hone their continuity and change skills, and utilize the accompanying feedback form to evaluate how your students’ skills are progressing. Plus, we’ve included a handy list of all CCOT progression activities with links for each of the OER Project’s WHP courses.
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CCOT Bookmark
Sometimes students forget exactly what they’re supposed to be doing when they’re tasked with using their historical thinking skills. That’s why we’ve created a CCOT bookmark that you can print and hand out to your students as a helpful reminder of what they should be thinking about as they practice their CCOT analysis.
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“Behind the Curtain: Continuity and Change Over Time”
Meet the brains behind our CCOT Tool. Lynsey Woldendorp and Ben Tomlisson explain how they designed the CCOT Tool to help students think critically about the past. Students often think of history in terms of turning points and big events. Through a hands-on class activity, CCOT encourages students to place events in a longer timeframe, which will help them evaluate what changed and what stayed the same.
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“How WHP Changed the Way I Teach Continuity and Change Over Time”
The more things change, the more they remain the same. Or do they? OER Project’s CCOT activities invite your students to debate the “gray areas” of historical change. But identifying what changed and what stayed the same across several centuries can be a challenge. In this blog, Emily Carmadelle shares some secrets to CCOT success. In Emily’s class, CCOT gets hands-on, as students use visual aids (and sticky notes) to explore three centuries of agriculture in Iowa.
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“Historical Thinking Practices: Change and Continuity Over Time”
As OER Project teacher Kyle Bracken tells us, it’s often much easier for students to identify the changes that occurred throughout history than it is to see the continuities. By incorporating a lot of scale-switching, students zoom out to look at the bigger picture, which helps them see the continuities across time and space.
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EXPLORE OER PROJECT LESSON PLANS

OER Project courses and lessons create curious, creative, and connected students. Our free, online resources are designed to support teachers and power amazing classrooms. Explore more of our lesson plans on a variety of topics in social studies!

The Columbian Exchange
Explore a critical turning point in global history as your students learn how new routes of exchange and the interconnection of previously isolated continents changed the world forever.
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Sourcing in History
Source like a historian! Activities, tools, instructional supports, and primary source collections reinforce and give your students plenty of practice with this vital skill.
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The Agricultural Revolution
A good idea? Or terrible mistake? Students learn why humans pivoted to farming and the related consequences for our world through activities that are designed to spark classroom debate.
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Enjoying the CCOT Lesson Plan? Check out more of what we have to offer.

OER Project courses and lessons create curious, creative, and connected students. Our free, online resources are designed to support teachers and power amazing classrooms. Join our active community of educators to learn more.
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