This technique comes from our Science department. In this example, it has been used in a lesson on climate change but it could be adapted easily for Geography or Science lessons where you’re looking at the impact of an event on a location or object.
The premise is simple. Students are presented with a related image and asked to discuss four things:
- What happened long before this image? (5 years, 10 years, 1000 years depending on your image of choice!)
- What happened just before this image? (1 hour, 1 day, 5 days, etc)
- What happened just after this image?
- What happened long after this image?
This Science lesson looked at the impact of climate change, however it is a lesson and discussion that could be easily transferred to a different subject. You could also use it to look at chemical reactions perhaps or to discuss the life cycle or plants or animals. This might also be applicable to learning about habitats or any number of other topics.
This could be used in Geography when looking at natural disasters. Presenting students with an image of the aftermath could prompt discussions of climate change, of lacking flood defenses, etc. It could also open a conversation about how humanitarian aid works and how countries rebuild after disasters. However it could also be used to discuss the formation of physical features in landscapes, the growth of settlements, erosion and weathering, waterfall formation… The possibilities are endless.
For History, perhaps the discussion would be more event based. The easiest example is to apply this strategy to a World War. What happened immediately before the break out? What happened immediately after? How did events build up to the outbreak or war and how did people go about ending the war once more? But there are again, all kinds of scenarios that this strategy could be used for.
You could also use this to discuss plot progression and cause and effect in English. Take Romeo and Juliet as an example. Your event could be the fight between Tybalt and Mercutio and your discussion could focus on the foreshadowing before and the fall out after. This could be adapted for almost any text, especially Shakespeare.
The most important part of this strategy is to promote focused, explorative dialogue between students about whichever topic or issue you have presented them with. Before, Before, After, After is in reality little more than a scaffold for Think, Pair, Share. However the catchy name and simple premise could make it a handy revision tool to keep within your bag of tricks as well. With practice, it will encourage students to consistently consider the cause and effect of any issue they explore, regardless of age, ability or subject.