Timeline Tips

By , April 14, 2020 1:56 pm

1. Labeling the Scale – Using Criteria

Once you have identified 5 events that are relevant to your perspective, you should begin creating your timeline.

First, you will need to label the scale. That means that every level on the scale needs a description, not just a number.

You have to develop the criteria you’ll use to give each event a score.

Criteria is a very important part of thinking. It means that you have reasons for your decisions. You’re not just randomly assigning everything a +3 or -3. You can actually distinguish between a +3 and +2, or between a -1 and -2.

To determine criteria, you need to understand what matters in your perspective (not actually yours personally, but more the type of person whose perspective you’re looking at).



If I were making a timeline with attitude about COVID-19 from the perspective of Donald Trump, his description of maximum progress would be very specific and it might be different from the Surgeon General of the US’s or from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s view of a +3.

To give a more precise example, if I made a timeline with attitude from the Japanese Shoguns’ perspective from the 1500s to 1339, what qualifies as +3 progress would be “exclusively beneficial to Japanese prosperity and traditions”. +2 and +1 would go down in gradations from there. Maximum decline (-3) would be described as “harmful to unique Japanese traditions.”

The criteria has to be a little bit loose in order to fit a wide range of events. However, it has to be descriptive.


Avoid Fuzzy Words

Certain words make poor descriptions:




  • what exactly do these words mean? Very unclear.


Use your word sense to write expressive descriptions. Remember when I tried to “hire” writers for Diderot’s Encyclopedie? I wanted creative writers who could apply criteria.


2. Using HTC Terminology in Your Timeline 


I will be honest: it has been extremely difficult to get students to pay attention to this aspect of writing about history.

The Ontario curriculum emphasizes Historical Thinking Concepts. I have to evaluate your ability to use these concepts. Therefore, I give you vocabulary lists, you have a link to the HTC booklet on this blog, and I highlight the words in my video (see google classroom for link).

Yet, few students are using these words. It’s quite simple to do: just bold them, draw my attention to them. Show me you know that you are using them!

To increase your mark, use them in a sophisticated way. For example, don’t just write progress or decline over and over. Use the synonyms I’ve given you.

Any references to causes and consequences should include descriptors such as long-term, medium-term, short-term, direct, indirect, intended, unintended, or any of the PERSIAT factors.

I will write more about HTC vocabulary when I give tips on the Turning Point Paragraph.


3. Turning Point Paragraph

coming soon



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