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Lesson Plans Library 9-10 > Ancient History
Civilizations: Rise to Power image
Civilizations: Rise to Power
Grade level: 9-10 Subject: Ancient History Duration: Two class periods

lesson plan support
Students will
  • Understand the three main periods in ancient Roman history.
  • Read primary sources to learn about the divisions of government in the Roman Republic.
  • Civilizations: Rise to Power videoand VCR, orDVDand DVD player
  • Internet access
  1. After watching the video, ask students to describe how Rome was ruled under the Etruscans.(It was a monarchy, ruled by kings.)When the last Etruscan king was overthrown, what type of government was adopted?(a republic)Remind students the Roman Republic is different from the Roman Empire, in which emperors ruled Rome. You may want to show the three periods on a simple timeline:

    753 BC to 509 BC Roman Monarchy
    509 BC to 27 BC   Roman Republic
    27 BC to AD 476   Roman Empire (in West)
  2. Ask the class to describe the republic, using what they learned in the video.(In a republic, the government is ruled by laws and elected officials.)Give students the following facts about the Roman Republic:

    • In 509 BC, the Romans set up a new government called arepublic.
    • In the republic, the king was replaced with twoconsuls. Consuls ruled for one-year terms.
    • The consuls were nominated by theSenate, a group of men elected by the people to create laws.
    • Theplebeians, or common people, elected officers called "tribunes of the people." Thesetribunesrepresented the common people and could veto any law.
    • The laws and rights of Romans were written down in theTwelve Tables.
    • The abbreviation"SPQR"stood for"the Senate and the People of Rome."This slogan of the Roman Republic was carved onto many public buildings.
    • Only wealthy landowners were allowed to vote.
  3. Explain that much of what we know about the history of early Rome and the Roman Republic comes from two historians who lived during the republic, Polybius and Livy. Have students read Polybius' description of the Roman constitution to learn more about the government of the republic. In this description, he discusses the three main divisions of government:

    A helpful guide can be found at this link:

  4. Have students write a brief essay describing the powers and limitations of the three divisions of government in the Roman Republic. Ask students to include at least three quotes from Polybius' writing. Their essays should end with a brief comparison of the United States' government and that of the Roman Republic.

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Use the following three-point rubric to evaluate students' work during this lesson.
  • Three points:Students were active in class discussions; essays reflected a strong understanding of the Roman Republic and included three or more quotes from Polybius' writing; the essay concluded with a clear comparison of the Roman Republic and the U.S. government.
  • Two points:Students participated in class discussions; essays reflected a satisfactory understanding of the Roman Republic and included at least two quotes from Polybius' writing; the essay concluded with an adequate comparison of the Roman Republic and the U.S. government.
  • One point:Students did not participate in class discussions; essays reflected a weak understanding of the Roman Republic and included one or no quotes from Polybius' writing; the essay concluded with a vague or inaccurate comparison of the Roman Republic and the U.S. government.

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Definition:A count of the population and a property evaluation in early Rome
Context:The Etruscan king Servius Tullius carried out history's first census.

Definition:Annually elected heads of the Roman Republic
Context:Two consuls oversaw the early Roman Republic; in later years, there were more.

Definition:The second-largest religion in the world, founded 1400 years ago by the prophet Muhammad
Context:The word "Islam" means submission to God in Arabic.

Definition:The principal unit of the Roman army comprising 3000 to 6000 foot soldiers with cavalry
Context:The Roman legions were highly disciplined and would fight to the death to defend Rome's liberty.

Definition:A government in which supreme power resides in a body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives responsible to them and governing according to law
Context:The overthrow of King Tarquin led to the establishment of the Roman Republic.

Definition:A government body made of a group of men; organized to represent the people and create laws for the Roman Republic.
Context:All the senators were wealthy men, since they were the only ones allowed to vote.

Definition:The ruler or king of a Muslim country.
Context:Suleiman was sultan of the Ottoman Empire during its golden age.

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Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL)
McREL's Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education addresses 14 content areas. To view the standards and benchmarks, visit

This lesson plan addresses the following national standards:

  • Historical Understanding Understands and knows how to analyze chronological relationships and patterns
  • World History: Era 3 Understand how major religious and large-scale empires arose in the Mediterranean Basin, China, and India from 500 BCE to 300 CE
  • World History: Era 4 Understands the causes and consequences of the development of Islamic civilization between the 7th and 10th centuries
  • Language Arts: Viewing Uses a range of strategies to interpret visual media

The National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS)
NCSS has developed national guidelines for teaching social studies. To become a member of NCSS, or to view the standards online, go to

This lesson plan addresses the following thematic standards:

  • Culture
  • People, Places, and Environments
  • Power, Authority, and Governance

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Joy Brewster, curriculum writer, editor, and consultant

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