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Lesson Plans Library 9-12 > World History
Power Builders: Leaders and Cities image
Power Builders: Leaders and Cities
Grade level: 9-12 Subject: World History Duration: One or two class periods

lesson plan support
Students will
  • discuss why cities are important;
  • plan an imaginary city based on their research; and
  • share their plans with the class.
  1. Begin the lesson by telling students that they are going to consider why cities are built and what needs they meet for their residents. Ask students to share any of their ideas about why cities are important. Write the ideas on the board or large newsprint.

  2. Show students the 30-minute segment entitled "The Building of New York City."

  3. After viewing the segment, revisit the question raised in Step #1. Students may come up with the ideas below. These suggestions are meant as a starting point for their discussion. Students may have additional ideas.

    • Cities provide homes.
    • Cities are the economic heart of a community, where businesses, entertainment and services such as markets, physicians, and retail shops are located.
    • Transportation systems, such as buses, trains, and subways, often originate in cities.
    • Police, fire departments, and hospitals are ready for emergencies.
    • City governments manage the roads.
    • Water, sewage, and waste disposal are managed by cities.
  4. Divide students into groups of two or three to plan an imaginary city. Each group should draw a map of its city and include a short essay describing how the city meets the needs of its residents. Students should also include the following information about their cities:

    • The number of residents
    • The kinds of homes (apartments, condominiums, single-family homes, townhouses)
    • The locations of businesses
    • The locations of recreational areas
    • The locations of city government buildings such as city hall, police and fire stations, and libraries
  5. Students may find the following Web sites helpful:

  6. During the next class period, have the groups present their cities. Students should explain how the plan meets the needs of its residents, how their city is organized, and the locations of homes, businesses, and other services.

  7. Conclude the lesson by discussing the characteristics of each group's city. Based on this activity, can students draw conclusions about what makes a city work effectively? Did students become aware of pitfalls that people may encounter when planning a city?

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Use the following three-point rubric to evaluate students' work during this lesson.
  • Three points:Students participated actively in class discussions; worked closely with their group to develop an effective plan for their city; and documented their ideas with evidence from Web sites and the program.
  • Two points:Students participated in class discussions; worked somewhat closely with their group to develop an effective plan for their city; and documented some of their ideas with evidence from Web sites and the program.
  • One point:Students participated minimally in class discussions; did not work well with their group to develop an effective plan for their city; and could not document their ideas with evidence from Web sites or the program.

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For The Rise of Feudalism segment:Have students watch the segment called "The Rise of Feudalism" and compare medieval society with societies created by cities. How are they different? How are they similar? Then have students discuss St. Petersburg, the city featured in the segment "Renewing Russia."

For the Early Industrial America segment:After students watch the segment called "Early Industrial America," Ask them to research how factories have changed since Upton Sinclair's time. How did his book, The Jungle, help spur on these changes?

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Definition:A large, fortified structure that serves as a fortress against enemies
Context:During the Middle Ages, a lord built a castle to protect himself and his subjects from enemies.

Definition:A concentrated area where people live, work, and gather for pooled services and protection
Context:In the 19th century, the city of New York underwent tremendous growth, becoming one of the most highly populated places in the world.

city plan
Definition:A long-term approach to organizing a city as a way of thinking about future growth in a methodical way
Context:New York's city plan called for an area of green in the middle of the city; this concept eventually took shape as Central Park.

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The National Council for the Social Studies(NCSS) has developed national standards to provide guidelines for teaching social studies. To become a member of the NCSS, or to view the standards online, go to
This lesson plan addresses the following standards:
  • People, Places, and Environments
  • Individuals, Groups, and Institutions

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Marilyn Fenichel, education writer and editor

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