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Supplemental Materials

Supplemental Materials includes online resources to accompany the printed unit, links to additional online resources from the Choices Program, links to resources on other sites, and a list of recommended print resources.


Choices produces videos featuring top experts—professors, policymakers, journalists, activists, and artists—answering questions that complement the readings and lessons.

Russian Revolution

The Russian Revolution

First edition. August 2005.


The Russian Revolution traces the history of Russia from 1861-1923. The unit focuses on the political, social, and economic conditions that led to the fall of the Tsar and explores the competing political ideologies that contested Russia's future in 1917

In the early spring of 1917, millions of Russian people poured into the streets and clamored for "democracy," a word that meant different things to different people at the time.

The Russian Revolution marked the beginning of an effort to remake the world using socialism. Today, socialism, as imagined by Marx and Lenin, seems to have been consigned "...to the dustbin of history," to use Trotsky's phrase. Yet it is also worth considering why those with aspirations of building a liberal democracy in Russia failed to do so in 1917. What conditions existed that allowed Lenin to grab the reins of power and put into place a totalitarian state and not a democracy? What are the role and responsibilities of citizens in political transitions? What lessons exist for us today as societies undergo political change?


The readings are intended to prepare students to consider thoughtfully the political forces at play in 1917. Part I explores Russia from the end of serfdom to the Russo-Japanese War of 1905. Part II examines the revolutionary period of 1905-1917. The Epilogue examines Lenin's consolidation of power.

The Choices Role Play

The Russian Revolution presents students with the questions and challenges facing Russia at a moment of political and social upheaval. At the core of the unit is a framework of the four distinct options Russians considered in early spring 1917.


Peasant Life
Through investigation of a painting, proverbs, statistics, and literature, students identify characteristics of peasant life in Russia.

Geography of Russia
Using a series of political and physical maps, students practice map-reading skills and consider how geography affects history.

Understanding the Political Parties
Reading selections from the political party platforms of 1905, students determine which platforms match up with which parties.

Symbols of the Revolution
Students examine symbols and political writings of the Russian Revolution and understand their historical significance.

Role-Playing the Four Options
Drawing on primary sources, students work cooperatively to advocate for one of the four options Russians debated at the time. A fifth group plays fictional undecided citizens, who ask questions of the groups and evaluate the options.

Lenin Takes Power
Working in groups, students develop a dramatic recreation of a meeting of Lenin and his colleagues deciding what to do in 1918.