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The Middle Ages Unit Plan

Grade 6
By Valerie Barber and Joseph Giron

Westminster College
MAT 636
4/23/2018
Content Description
This Unit is written for a 6th grade class. In 7 days, it covers religion, class, culture, and
society in during the Middle Ages in a variety of engaging ways. Its main objective is to
show how the events during the Middle Ages lead to the inventions and advancements
of the Renaissance.

Table of Contents

Rationale……………………………………………………………….……………………....2
Enduring Understandings……………………………………………….…………………....2
Essential Questions………………………………………………………………………......2
Unit Objectives………………………………………………………………………….…...2-3
Daily Lesson Plans………………………………………………………………………….4-11
Unit Evaluation………………………………………………………………………………..12
Resources………………………………………………………………………………….....13
Reflections………………………………………………………………………………..…...14

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Middle Ages Unit Plan

Rationale:
While the middle ages include some of the darkest events in human history, it also
highlights the importance of the exchange of knowledge cross-culturally. This exchange
of knowledge eventually led to advancements in technology, mathematics, science and
medicine. It is important for students to realize that religion was a cause of conflict, but it
was these conflicts that contributed to an important exchange of information.

Enduring Understandings:
Students will understand the effect of religion on culture, science, and society during the
Middle Ages.
Students will understand that class systems in the Middle Ages are reflected throughout
all of history and in society today.
Students will understand that events of the Middle Ages such as the Plague, and the
Crusades lead to the Renaissance.

Essential Questions:
Can conflict have positive outcomes?
Do we see Feudalism reflected in society today? How?
How can an epidemic such as The Plague affect social order?

Unit Objective:
6th Grade Social Studies Standard 2
Students will understand the transformation of cultures during the Middle Ages and the
Renaissance and the impact of this transformation on modern times.
Objective 2
Explore the importance of religion in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance and its
relevance to modern times.

a. Explain the influence of religion on cultural expression (e.g. the arts,


architecture, government, education, family structure).
b. Compare relations between the Muslim, Christian, and Jewish faiths
during the Middle Ages, Renaissance, and the modern world (e.g.
Crusades, periods of peaceful coexistence, periods of conflict).

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Objective 3

Examine how systems of governance began steps toward self-rule during the Middle
Ages and the Renaissance.

a. Examine relationships between significant events and ideas and their


influence on systems of government (e.g. the rise of the merchant class,
the Magna Carta, the impact of the Black Death, Germanic tribes,
feudalism, manors, city-states).
b. Compare individual rights of people in the United States today with the
rights of selected groups in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance (e.g.
serfs, nobility, merchant class).

Objective 4

Explain the importance of the Renaissance as a rebirth of cultural and intellectual


pursuits.

a. Investigate how technological and scientific developments of the time


promoted literacy and the exchange of ideas that continue to this day
(e.g. moveable type, telescope, microscope).
b. Identify leading Renaissance artists and thinkers and their contributions
to visual arts, writing, music, and architecture (e.g. Machiavelli,
Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Palestrina, Shakespeare, Tallis).

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Lessons Plans

Lesson 1- Influence of Religion-cultural expression


Objective 2
Explore the importance of religion in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance and its
relevance to modern times.

c. Explain the influence of religion on cultural expression (e.g. the arts,


architecture, government, education, family structure).

Religion played a central role in the middle ages as churches had a tremendous
influence on politics, education, and everyday life. Religion was reflected in the arts and
beliefs of the time, and it was also a source of conflict among religions with differing
theologies.This lesson would be a brief introduction to the role of religion on
renaissance art and inventions. It would also cover the role of religion in the plague and
the crusades. It is an introductory lesson for the unit.
We will ask the students to write down what they know about the middle ages as a
pre-assessment to our unit.

Lesson 2- Feudalism (Class Divide)

Objective 3

Examine how systems of governance began steps toward self-rule during the Middle
Ages and the Renaissance.

b. Compare individual rights of people in the United States today with the rights
of selected groups in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance (e.g. serfs, nobility,
merchant class).

Students will be randomly assigned a class (King, Nobles and Church Officials, Knights
and Vassals, Serfs and Peasants). They will work together with other students in their
same class to research how their class fit in with Medieval times and where their class
might fit in today’s society.

Lesson 3- Crusades
Gradual Release of Responsibility
Model of Instruction

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Grade: 6th
Standards:
Social Studies Standard 2: ​Students will understand the transformation of cultures
during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance and the impact of this transformation on
modern times.
Language Arts Reading Informational Text Standard 1: Cite textual evidence to
support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from
the text.
Objectives:
Explore the importance of religion in the Middle Ages and its relevance to modern
times.
Explore the importance of Jerusalem in Islam, Christianity, and Judaism and the
positive and negative outcomes of conflict.
Materials:
Map
Doc Cam/Smartboard
http://medievaleurope.mrdonn.org/crusades.html
http://medievaleurope.mrdonn.org/effects_of_the_crusades.html
Paragraph: The Pros and Cons of Conflict over Jerusalem. (Post A)
Paragraph: Do you think the conflict over Jerusalem was worth it? (Phase III HW)
Graphic Organizer
Essential Questions:
Can conflict have positive outcomes?
Vocabulary:
Crusades, Jihad, Jerusalem
Adaptations for EL:
Written Objectives
Provide Graphic Organizer
Adaptations for Students with Special Needs:
Graphic Organizer
Clear, written directions.
Modeling
DAP:
Integrated Lesson
Significant Content

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RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE TEACHER RESPONSIBILITI
ES OF
STUDENTS
Phase I​: Hook: who has heard of Jerusalem? It’s a really 1. Read
Exploration and important place, but most people don’t know why along
Explanation it is important. Today, we will talk about why with the
Concept Jerusalem is important in three religions: class.
Development Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. 2. Particip
1. Write down objective. ate in
Explore the importance of Jerusalem in Islam, discussi
Christianity, and Judaism, and the positive and on.
negative outcomes of the conflict over
Jerusalem.
2. Ask following questions:
Can conflict have positive outcomes?
Students: response
Me: can a place be special to more than one
person or group of people?
Students: yes
Me: what happens then? Can a place belong to
more than one person or group of people who
don’t share blood, theological beliefs, nationality,
etc.?
Students: response
Me: Excellent responses. Today, we are going to
talk about just such a place.
3. Read the two articles along with the class
(shared reading).
4. Ask questions about the articles throughout.
Why do you think Pope Urban II wanted to take
back Jerusalem?
IMPORTANT: this question must be asked before
reading the second article.
A lot of people died in the crusades, didn’t they?
What do you think happened to all of the

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belongings of the European men who perished
on the crusades?
IMPORTANT: this connects to the essential
question. It is the most important question to ask
so DO NOT FORGET TO ASK IT!!!
A lot of people lost their lives during the crusades
because of disease, hunger, and conflict. It was
a time that was distinguished by violence and
death. But despite all of the horrible things that
occured at that time, some good did come from
the conflict. My question to you is this: can good
things come from bad places? Can positive
outcomes come from negative conflicts?
Transition to 1. Review Time 1. Particip
Phase II: 2. Ask students why Jerusalem is ate in
Review important to Jews, Christians, and brief
Phase II Muslims. review.
Expectations 1. Hand out graphic organizers. 1. Watch
1. Tell students about the pro and con teacher
activity. use
1. Show students how to use the graphic organiz
organizer (modified: only one reason is er.
needed for this activity).

QUALITATIVE SHIFT IN RESPONSIBILITY--THE TEACHER WILL NO LONGER BE


TEACHING THE WHOLE CLASS AS ONE UNIT. EVERY STUDENT NOW TAKES
RESPONSIBILITY FOR CARRYING OUT THE CONCEPT, STRATEGY, SKILL, ETC.

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Phase II: 1. Students will use organizer to help them write 1. Students will fill
Guided Practice a paragraph response to the question T ​ he Pros out a graphic
One-on-One and Cons of Conflict over Jerusalem​.​ ​Model by organizer for pros
Differentiation adding one pro and one con to a graphic and cons
organizer you draw on the board. independently.
Formative
Assessment (2). Students will create a graphic organizer to 2. request further
write down the 4 pros and 4 cons of the conflict scaffolding—as
Plans for early
over Jerusalem. needed
finishers
3. Scaffold any students who are having difficulty
Closure
with the writing exercise.
4. if feedback indicates that the class has not
understood the instructions or the graphic
organizer, go back and explain it again.
5. Once they have 4 cons and 4 pros, students
will write a paragraph using at least 2 pros or
cons that are on your list.

Transition to 1. Introduce the phase III exercise in 1. engage in


Phase III​: which they will write a paragraph about review
Review and Phase whether they believe there will ever be
III Expectations peace in Jerusalem between the three
Abrahamic religions using the graphic
organizer.

QUALITATIVE SHIFT IN RESPONSIBILITY—STUDENTS WILL NEXT WORK AS


INDEPENDENTLY AS APPROPRIATE
Phase III​: 1. Write another paragraph to answer the independently
Independent following question: Do you think the complete
Practice conflict over Jerusalem was worth it? Phase III
Summative Students should add a second exercises
Assessment paragraph that includes the remaining
pros or cons on their organizer.
2. Model this by making an example
using one pro or con.
Example: I think the conflict over Jerusalem was
worth it because without it Europeans would not
have been introduced blah blah blah

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Lesson 4- Bubonic Plague
Grade: 6
​ th

Social Studies Standard 2


Students will understand the transformation of cultures during the Middle Ages and
the Renaissance and the impact of this transformation on modern times.
Objective 3
Examine how systems of governance began steps toward self-rule during the Middle
Ages and the Renaissance.

A. Examine relationships between significant events and ideas and their influence
on systems of government (e.g. the rise of the merchant class, the Magna Carta, the
impact of the Black Death, Germanic tribes, feudalism, manors, city-states).

Language Arts Writing Standard 3


Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective
technique, relevant descriptive details, and well-structured event sequences.

A. Engage and orient the reader by establishing a context and introducing a


narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally and
logically.

Day 1:
Students will rotate through centers in groups to learn about the Black Plague. The
centers will be: a shared reading about daily life during the epidemic, an informational
video about the effect of the disease on different class systems, and a
map/geography activity to show where the Plague was most destructive and how it
spread throughout Europe.

Day 2:

Materials:​ Paper bags, Written directions, List of cities, Beans, Dice

Essential Questions:​ How can an epidemic such as The Plague affect daily life and
social order? T
​ his question will be explored through the journey of the cities, and by
assuming the role of a civilian during the epidemic. By rolling the dice, students will

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understand how scared people in the Middle Ages were of getting sick, since they
had no control over their chances of contracting the disease. They will also learn how
often people got sick, and that different cities were differently affected.

Vocabulary:​ Bubonic Plague/Black Death, Epidemic

Adaptations for Students with Special Needs and EL:​ Provide written directions,
modeling, and group work.

Phase I:
1. Review what we learned about the Plague the previous day by having a discussion
and writing responses on the board.
2. I will ask a volunteer to read a primary source text written about the Plague.
http://chnm.gmu.edu/cyh/primary-sources/167?section=primarysources&source=177
3. I will ask, ​“What does this piece of writing say about the lives of those affected by
the Plague?”
“Yesterday we learned that some cities were affected more than others by this
disease. Why is do you think this is?”
And “​ How do you think you would feel if you were living in Europe at this time and you
had to travel to different cities for your job?”

Transition to Phase II:


I will provide written directions for the task and we will go over it as a class. I will leave
the directions on the screen.

Phase II
1. Students will go on a journey through Europe in the 1300’s. Each student will
receive a map which shows the cities they will visit on their pilgrimage. These will be
the same cities which we studied on the map the previous day.
2. Each city will be represented by a bag full of differently colored beans. These
beans will indicate healthy or infected. Some cities have more “infected” beans than
others.
3. Students will roll the dice at each city to tell them how many nights they will stay in
that city. This is how many beans they must draw from the bag.
4. When a student “contracts” the Plague, they will roll the dice again. If they roll a 6,
they are cured and may continue on their journey.
5. If they do not roll a 6, they have “died” and can choose another pilgrimage to
embark upon.

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Phase III:
I will introduce the final task to the class after students have played the game. “Your
next task is to assume the role of the merchant you played during the game. You can
choose to write a journal entry or a postcard home describing your journey. In your
writing, use descriptive details, and write about your journey in a sequence. Include in
your writing three details you learned about the life during the plague either yesterday
or today in narrative form.

Example: Dear wife, I have been traveling from city to city. First, I went to Marseille,
which is a port town. Here we saw many rats coming off the ships. Many people are
infected with the Plague. Next, I traveled to Lyon. Here, there were not as many
infected. I think it is because this city is inland, away from the ports and ships…

I will use these writings to assess students’ understanding of the spread of the plague
and life during the epidemic.

Lesson 5- Renaissance inventions/ideas

Objective 4

Explain the importance of the Renaissance as a rebirth of cultural and intellectual


pursuits.

c. Investigate how technological and scientific developments of the time


promoted literacy and the exchange of ideas that continue to this day
(e.g. moveable type, telescope, microscope).

Choose an article about the types of inventions and ideas that were adopted by
Europeans during and after their conflicts during the Middle Ages. To narrow down the
focus of what could potentially be a unit on it’s own, it would be a good idea to
concentrate on inventions and ideas that were introduced to the Europeans during the
crusades that were expanded upon during the Renaissance.

Lesson 6- Renaissance Art

Objective 4

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Explain the importance of the Renaissance as a rebirth of cultural and intellectual
pursuits.

d. Investigate how technological and scientific developments of the time


promoted literacy and the exchange of ideas that continue to this day
(e.g. moveable type, telescope, microscope).
e. Identify leading Renaissance artists and thinkers and their contributions
to visual arts, writing, music, and architecture (e.g. Machiavelli,
Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Palestrina, Shakespeare, Tallis).

Renaissance art can illustrate the concepts that were covered in earlier lessons
throughout the unit. This lesson can be used to summarize the unit using art. For
example, a comparison of art from before and after the crusades may demonstrate how
and what the Europeans adopted from their conflicts with Muslims. It can show the
evolution of an invention in earlier art with later art. As a post-assessment, students will
create art that reflects any one of the concepts that have been covered in the unit. They
may use the art shown in class as inspiration.

Unit Evaluation:
Pre-assessment: We will ask the students to write down what they know about the
middle ages as a pre-assessment to our unit.
Post-assessment: students will create art that reflects any one of the concepts that have
been covered in the unit. They may use the art shown in class as inspiration.

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Resources:
Middle Ages for KidsEffects of the Crusades. (n.d.). Retrieved April 09, 2018, from
http://medievaleurope.mrdonn.org/effects_of_the_crusades.html
This article is about some of the effects of the crusades in regards to the class
system and social order. The reason I chose this article is that it connects this
lesson to the lesson on class systems. I will be using this article for a read aloud
as well.

Middle Ages for KidsThe Crusades. (n.d.). Retrieved April 09, 2018, from
http://medievaleurope.mrdonn.org/crusades.html
This article is a kid friendly summary of the crusades. The vocabulary is
appropriate for 6 grade, and it includes why Jerusalem was important to Jews,
Christians, and Muslims. It is short and it will be used for a shared reading with
the class.

(n.d.). Retrieved April 09, 2018, from h ​ ttp://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/plague.htm


The article summarizes the symptoms of the plague, and the effects the plague
had on relationships between family and community members. It talks about the
indiscriminate nature of disease, infecting anyone and everyone regardless of
their status in society. The article also highlights the enormous death toll the
plague had in Europe.

Wisnia, C. M. (n.d.). Hands-on Epidemic Simulation. Retrieved April/May, 2018, from


http://livinginmedievaleurope.weebly.com/uploads/3/1/2/7/31276437/the_black_pl
ague_classroom_simulation.pdf

This was the lesson plan that was modified for our unit. The activity in the unit is
ingenious, and it is an excellent way to engage students. It focuses on the
high-risk of infection during the outbreaks of the plague.

Wray, S. K., & University of Missouri-Kansas City. (n.d.). Children and Youth in History.
Retrieved April 09, 2018, from
http://chnm.gmu.edu/cyh/primary-sources/167?section=primarysources&source=
177

This website offers a primary source written by Giovanni Boccaccio about how
the plague affected family life. In his writing, he talked about how individuals
infected by the plague were often abandoned by their neighbors and even by
their families to prevent further infections.

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Teacher resources:
http://chnm.gmu.edu/cyh/primary-sources/167?section=primarysources&source=177
http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/plague.htm
http://livinginmedievaleurope.weebly.com/uploads/3/1/2/7/31276437/the_black_plague_
classroom_simulation.pdf

https://www.factretriever.com/black-death-facts

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