One of the greatest rewards of teaching history is when students are able to show that they can think in a complex manner and recognize that history is often muddled with differing interpretations and controversies. Catherine the Great is one of the more complex rulers that students must study in AP® European History.  

Catherine has often been portrayed as a monarch who at best only gave lip service to the Enlightenment. It is far more complicated than that so I like for my students to spend about 80 to 90 minutes studying Catherine a bit more in-depth while also developing skills to succeed on the writing portion of the AP exam.    

The attached lesson plan allows students to practice their historical thinking skills and reasoning processes as they study this topic. They will read and discuss multiple sources about Catherine and will also practice techniques used to answer free-response questions which are worded in the current AP European History language (of the DBQ). The goal is for students to leave this lesson with a better understanding of the complexity of Catherine’s rule and further develop the historical thinking skills and reasoning processes needed for success on the AP exam.

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