This is an in-depth and challenging assignment. Students will need to read, and demonstrate their understanding of, complex writings from a memo written by Austria's Klemens von Metternich to Russia's Czar Alexander in the early 1800s (Congress of Vienna). I've taken several hours to go through the primary source document to excerpt it to less than 4 pages so it'll be more accessible to students; be aware that it's still a challenging read. The challenge is worth it though, and this will push even your highest-achieving students to work hard!
I assess my students' ability to understand this material in a couple of ways. Firstly, I assign a set of "focus questions" that they must write out the answers for while they read (I collect these for an "effort grade" which I think of as harder than a completion grade but not as punishing as right/wrong grades... this allows me to differentiate among students of various learning levels as well).
Secondly, on the day that the reading is due, we discuss answers to the focus questions for a class period. Generally, I encourage students to voice their agreements or disagreements with the author and/or each other and we've had some very thoughtful discussion and debate as a result.
KEYWORDS: French Revolution; European History; World History; History; Congress of Vienna; Metternich; Balance of Power; Conservatism; Enlightenment; Primary Source; DBQ; Document Based Questions; Debate; Discussion