Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Dividing the Pie

Laura Halstied | Published: October 21st, 2021 by K20 Center


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Dividing the Pie

Students are provided with an historical event and several causes to analyze. After an analysis of the content, students determine a percentage to represent the impact of each cause. They then create a pie chart and explain their reasoning for each of the percentages in the chart.

Dividing the Pie


In this strategy, students are given a blank pie chart and are provided a description of an historical event and several reasons or contributing factors for the event. Students may work individually or in small groups to analyze the causal factors for the event. Once they have an understanding of the causal factors, they determine the degree of influence each cause had on the event by assigning a percentage value to each causal factor. Students then create their pie charts to reflect those percentages, labeling each cause. To conclude the exercise, students explain their reasoning for the percentages assigned to each cause in writing or by presenting their arguments orally to the class.


  1. Decide whether students will work alone or in small groups of two to three.

  2. Provide each group with a blank pie chart or a blank piece of paper for students to draw a circle.

  3. Present an event to students and a description of several causes for the event.

  4. Have students create a pie chart that divides the causal factors into percentages.

  5. Have students write a summary that explains the reasons for the percentages or have students present their pie charts orally to the whole class.

Social Studies Example: Students might be given World War I as their event. The causes could be identified as militarism, the alliance system, imperialism, nationalism, and the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. After analysis and discussion, students determine the degree of impact each of the causes had on the start of World War I. They then create a pie chart showing the percentage assigned to each cause and explain the reasoning they used to make their determinations.

Wiebe, G. (2014, April 14). Using a pie to teach historical thinking. Doing Social Studies. Retrieved October 7, 2021, from