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6-8, 9-12 > World History
Grade level: 6-8, 9-12 Subject: World History Duration: Three class periods
Objectives

Students will:
1. describe and assess the circumstances surrounding a major historical event from the ancient world by using the Internet and other resources to research its location, people, and repercussions; and
2. write a news article that summarizes and draws conclusions from a historical event.


Download a printable version of this lesson plan.  

Materials
Procedures
Adaptations
Discussion Questions


Evaluation
Extensions
Academic Standards
Credit
Worksheets

Materials


Computers with Internet access
Writing materials (pens, pencils, paper, or computers)
Textbooks and other reference material on ancient history topics (optional: electronic encyclopedias on CD-ROM)
Newspapers

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Procedures

1. In this activity, students will work in teams and use the Internet to investigate an event from the ancient world. They will gather information as reporters and synthesize their findings into individual newspaper articles. Each team will then compile its news stories into a front page edition of theAncient Timesto share with classmates. Teachers can choose to assign one or more of the following historical events as they relate to curriculum. There are four historical events on the docket in the newsroom of theAncient Times:
  • The Persians’ Defeat at Plataea
  • The Punic Wars
  • The building of the Great Wall of China
  • The Vikings
2. As a warm-up exercise, distribute recent newspapers to the class or hold up one newspaper for all to see. Ask students which events have had the most impact on their lives. Which ones would be most important to regional or state readers? National readers? International readers? Ask them if they think any of the events will be written into future history books? Why or why not? What events from your life do you think will be written into future history books?
3. Explain to the class that every good news article answers essential questions: who, what, when, where, why, and how. These questions are sometimes referred to as the five Ws and an H. Write these words on the board. Choose one of the news stories and read the first couple of paragraphs to the class. After you’ve finished reading, ask students to explain how those five questions were answered. Tell students that they’ll be writing news stories about events that happened in the ancient world. Their stories should answer these five questions about the event they cover.
4. Separate students into teams of four and have each team pick up an assignment in the newsroom of the Ancient Timesnewspaper. Each assignment includes (1) Web links on the related topic; (2) research questions, which can be answered with the help of the suggested sites; and (3) a team discussion question, to be answered after they have completed their research. Remind students that they will be researching and answering the questions as a team but will be evaluated on an individual basis. Each student will need to submit his or her research (the answers to their team questions) along with a final news story. Students should use traditional resources (e.g., textbooks, encyclopedias, CD-ROMs) to confirm online information or to fill in research gaps if needed.
5. After students have answered their team questions, have them choose one aspect of the event on which to write a news article. Student teams can work together and brainstorm ideas for the individual news stories they write or they can use the questions they have answered as a focal point from which to build a story. Teams should be reminded that they will be compiling their articles into a front page edition of theAncient Times. Team members can write stories on the same topic, but they may want to consider using different angles for each. Remind students that they will need to answer the five Ws and an H in their stories.
6. After teams have completed their articles, have them create a front page for theAncient Timesshowcasing each of their stories. Students may want to include maps or sketches on their front page. (If team stories need more space, have them create a second page for the newspaper.) Offer teams extra credit for creativity. When they have completed their work, distribute copies of each team’s newspaper to the class and discuss the stories.
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Adaptations

Use the Internet, CD-ROMs, or books from the library to display images that help describe the four time periods studied. Here are some suggestions: For the Persian Wars, show images of the battlefield where Greeks and Persians clashed. For the building of the Great Wall of China, display a map of the length of the wall as it stands today. For the Punic Wars, display a diagram of the Roman phalanx, the fierce fighting unit of Rome. For the Viking period, display an image of a Viking ship that might have been used to traverse the Atlantic. Have students discuss what we learn about each civilization from the images selected.
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Discussion Questions

1. What is the difference between a primary and secondary source? What are the advantages of each?
2. How can you judge the reliability of the information you find on a Web site?
3. Should reporters include their personal opinions in the stories they tell? Why or why not?
4. Discuss the similarities and differences between the job of the historian and the job of the scientist. Does the scientific method at all relate to how a historian gathers information? How do the work of the historian and the work of the journalist differ?
5. Did technology influence in any way the civilization you studied and how? For example, the Viking’s use of the longboat led to the successful exploration and conquering of foreign lands. The Great Wall of China served as a protective barrier against foreign invaders. How does technology influence human activities like travel and warfare today? Cite specific examples for both questions.
6. Geography plays a major role in the course of historical events. For the culture you studied, consider how the terrain, placement of water, or surrounding peoples and cultures impacted the decisions that were made and the events that took place.
7. Each of the cultures you studied—Greek, Roman, Chinese, and Viking—had strengths and weaknesses. Identify which culture you believe was the strongest and outline why you believe that. In which culture would you most have wanted to live and why?
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Evaluation

The quality of students’ work can be assessed by the following rubric:
  • Three points:The student answers questions thoroughly and creates a creative, clear news article that uses and cites research to draw conclusions about the historical event.
  • Two points:The student answers questions with little attention to detail. The student assembles a news article but makes sweeping, generalized responses that fail to reference historical facts.
  • One point:The student makes an attempt to answer questions by writing simple responses but fails to create a cohesive, clear news story.

If students fail to answer any of the questions in their quest, they should receive no points.
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Extensions

The Ancient Times
Have students create other features for theAncient Timesissue. They may wish to write an article on another topic, an editorial (see below), an advertisement, or an illustration. Students can put their pages together by pasting their articles onto poster board, or students who are familiar with word processing can copy and paste their product into a computer file to develop a complete newspaper page.

Write an Editorial
An editorial expresses a person’s opinion on an event or topic. The opinion should be based on historical fact and should reflect what people actually thought at that time rather than your own personal opinion on the topic. The opinion you express may reflect what actually comes true as history unfolds, or it can reflect an alternate history that did not come true.
Example: Should Roman forces have totally destroyed Carthage as the Roman leader Cato wanted, or should they have “buried the hatchet” after the second Punic war? Your group could write one or more editorials presenting an opinion on the issue. The opinion must be based on some historical facts found during the research phase.

The Evening News
Present the information you have found in the form of a brief oral report for the class. Your presentation can take the form of a news report from the main news desk or from a reporter in the field. It may also include an interview with one of the major historical characters or with a fictitious character that represents one aspect of the event.

Dear Diary
Choose one of the historical settings (or your teacher may assign you one) and create a week-long journal of a character in the time period. Describe in your journal the thoughts and experiences of a Greek fighting the Persians, a Roman soldier descending on Carthage, a Chinese wall builder, or a Viking explorer on his way to North America. Center your journal on one of the major events found in the newspaper article created by the research groups.

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Academic Standards

Grade level:9-12
Subject area:World History
Standard:
Understands how Aegean civilization emerged and how relationships developed among peoples of the eastern Mediterranean and southwest Asia from 600 to 200 B.C.
Benchmarks:
Understands the major events and the significance of the Persian Wars (e.g., the long-term effects of the Persian Wars on Greece, how the internal political and military structures of the two antagonists dictated their strategies, how the Greek city-states were able to defeat the “monolithic” Persian armies and navies, and Herodotus’s version of the key events of the Persian Wars and how reliable this account might be).

Grade level:7-8
Subject area:World History
Standard:
Understands how Aegean civilization emerged and how relationships developed among peoples of the eastern Mediterranean and southwest Asia from 600 to 200 B.C.
Benchmarks:
Understands the characteristics of Persia’s founding, expansion, and political organization (e.g., the political structure of Persia under Darius the Great and how the Persian Empire ruled diverse ethnic populations, the leadership organization of Darius I and why his chain of command was so effective, and the effects of the Persian wars upon the daily lives of the people of Persia and Greece).

Grade level:7-8
Subject area:World History
Standard:
Understands how major religions and large-scale empires arose in the Mediterranean basin, China, and India from 500 B.C. to A.D. 300.
Benchmarks:
Understands influences on the economic and political framework of Roman society (e.g., how Roman unity contributed to the growth of trade among lands of the Mediterranean basin; the importance of Roman commercial connections with sub-Saharan Africa, India, and East Asia; the history of the Punic wars and the consequences of the wars for Rome; and the major phases of Roman expansion, including the Roman occupation of Britain).

Grade level:7-8
Subject area:World History
Standard:
Understands how major religions and large-scale empires arose in the Mediterranean basin, China, and India from 500 B.C. to A.D. 300.
Benchmarks:
Understands fundamental social, political, and cultural characteristics of Chinese society under early imperial dynasties (e.g., the importance of the “Mandate of Heaven” to the success of the Zhou Dynasty and its development of imperial rule; the literary and artistic achievements of early imperial dynasties; the development and consequences of iron technology and the family division-of-labor system; comparisons between the Shang, Zhou, Quin, and Han Empires in areas they controlled and methods of government; the composition and stratification of Chinese society and factors that gave individuals status; and imperial attitudes and actions toward nomadic peoples along the kingdom’s borders).

Grade level:9-12
Subject area:World History
Standard:
Understands how major religions and large-scale empires arose in the Mediterranean basin, China, and India from 500 B.C. to A.D. 300.
Benchmarks:
Understands the political and cultural characteristics of the Han Dynasty (e.g., the political and ideological contributions of the Han to the development of the imperial bureaucratic state and imperial expansion and how contemporaneous art reflects the history and philosophy of China through the end of the Han Dynasty).

Grade level:7-8
Subject area:World History
Standard:
Understands the political, social, and cultural redefinitions in Europe from A.D. 500 to 1000.
Benchmarks:
Understands the role of Norse peoples in the development of Europe (e.g., Nordic contributions to long-distance trade and exploration and the failure of Norse settlements in Newfoundland and Greenland).

Grade level:9-12
Subject area:World History
Standard:
Understands the political, social, and cultural redefinitions in Europe from A.D. 500 to 1000.
Benchmarks:
Understands central and peripheral reasons for the failure of the Carolingian Empire to endure after the death of Charlemagne (e.g., the independent power of nobles and the advantage of the Magyar cavalry and Viking longboat).

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Credit

George Cassutto, teacher of social studies and computer applications at North Hagerstown High School in Maryland.
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