• Not Everyone Lived in Castles During the Middle Ages

    Detail from the Calendar page for June, the “Book of Hours” ( Les Tres  Riches Heures du Duc de Berry)

    In this lesson, students will learn about the lifestyle of the wealthy elite and then expand their view of medieval society by exploring the lives of the peasants, craftsmen, and monks.

  • Lesson 3: The Debate in the United States over the League of Nations: Five Camps: From Voices of Consent to Voices of Dissent

    Woodrow Wilson for League of Nations

    American foreign resonates with the debate over U.S. entry into the League of Nations-collective security versus national sovereignty, idealism versus pragmatism, the responsibilities of powerful nations, the use of force to accomplish idealistic goals, the idea of America. Understanding the debate over the League and the consequences of its failure provides insight into international affairs in the years since the Great War and beyond. In this lesson, students read the words and listen to the voices of some central participants in the debate over the League of Nations.

  • Lesson 1: How "Grand" and "Allied" was the Grand Alliance?

    President Franklin D. Roosevelt signing the Declaration of War against Japan,  December 8, 1941.

    This lesson plan will survey the nature of what Winston Churchill called the Grand Alliance between the United States, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union in opposition to the aggression of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.

  • Leonardo da Vinci: Creative Genius

    Leonardo Vitruvian

    Leonardo da Vinci—one of history’s most imaginative geniuses—was certainly born at the right time and in the right place. In this lesson plan, the students will explore Leonardo da Vinci and the age in which he lived and consider the meaning of the Greek quotation, “Man is the measure of all things” and why it particularly applies to the Renaissance and to Leonardo.

  • Chaucer's Wife of Bath

    Wife of Bath

    Look into the sources of the Wife’s sermon on women’s rights to learn how real women lived during the Middle Ages.

  • Exploring Arthurian Legend

    Arthur thumb

    Trace the elements of myth and history in the world of the Round Table.

  • Lesson 3: Victory and the New Order in Europe

    Conference of the Big Three at Yalta makes final plans for the defeat of Germany

    By the beginning of 1944, victory in Europe was all but assured. The task of diplomacy largely involved efforts to define the structure of the postwar world. Why and how did the United States attempt to preserve the Grand Alliance as American diplomats addressed European issues?

    Lesson Plans: Grades 3-5
    Curriculum Unit

    On the Road with Marco Polo (8 Lessons)

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    The Unit

    Overview

    In the 13th century, a young Venetian named Marco Polo set out with his father and uncle on a great adventure. Following a series of trade routes, they traveled across the vast continent of Asia and became the first Europeans to visit the Chinese capital (modern Beijing). Marco so impressed the reigning emperor of China, Kublai Khan, that he was appointed to the imperial court. For the next 17 years, Marco was sent on missions to many parts of Kublai's sprawling empire. The Polos finally returned to Venice via the sea route. Marco later wrote a book about his experiences, which inspired new generations of explorers to travel to the exotic lands of the East.

    In this curriculum unit, students will become Marco Polo adventurers, following his route to and from China in order to learn about the geography, local products, culture, and fascinating sites of those regions. Students will record their "journey" by creating journal entries, postcards, posters, and maps related to the sites they explore. The EDSITEment Marco Polo Journey Map, with its guiding questions, may be used either as a culminating exercise or a method of reviewing previous lessons and introducing new ones.

    Guiding Questions

    • What routes did Marco Polo follow to China and back?
    • What sorts of natural environments did he travel through?
    • What were the major products of the places he visited?

    Learning Objectives

    • Trace the routes of Marco Polo on a map of Europe and Asia
    • Describe the major geographical features of regions along these routes
    • List some of the important products of these regions

    Preparation Instructions

    Read through the entire lesson plan and become familiar with the content and resources. Bookmark relevant websites for later reference. Download and duplicate the map of China available through EDSITEment-reviewed resource Xpeditions for Activity 5 and the Map of the Indian Ocean Area available through EDSITEment-reviewed resource SARAI for Activity 6. It would be very helpful to have a large map of the world in your classroom as well as a set of atlases.

    As you progress through the lessons, you may want to speak to your students about the changing status of maps, and the various ways maps can be used to represent a geographic and political area. Since students may find themselves confused by the large number and types of maps in these lessons, you may want to pick one or two to serve as reference points against which other maps are compared (your classroom atlas or a large map of the world might be a good choice). A good online map to use as an overall guide is the Map of Marco Polo's Route available through EDSITEment reviewed resource Asia Source.

    Review the EDSITEment Marco Polo Interactive Map. You may use the map either as a culminating exercise or as a way of reviewing material from the previous day's lesson before introducing new material.

    Additional background materials can be viewed at the following websites:

    The Lessons

    The Basics

    Grade Level

    3-5

    Subject Areas
    • Art and Culture > Subject Matter > Anthropology
    • History and Social Studies > Place > Europe
    • History and Social Studies > World > The Medieval World (500 CE-1500 CE)
    • History and Social Studies > Place > Asia
    • History and Social Studies > Themes > Exploration & Discovery
    Skills
    • Compare and contrast
    • Critical analysis
    • Cultural analysis
    • Discussion
    • Evaluating arguments
    • Gathering, classifying and interpreting written, oral and visual information
    • Historical analysis
    • Internet skills
    • Interpretation
    • Journal writing
    • Logical reasoning
    • Making inferences and drawing conclusions
    • Map Skills
    • Representing ideas and information orally, graphically and in writing
    • Visual analysis
    Lesson Plans: Grades 3-5
    Curriculum Unit

    What's In A Name? (4 Lessons)

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    Overview

    MacDonald. Carpenter. Underwood. Green. These are typical American names that reflect a family's British origins—but they tell us little about the people who currently bear them. How times have changed! In the Middle Ages, a person's second name served a useful function. In some cases, it revealed where he lived; in others, it told who his father was, what he did for a living, or even what he looked like.

    In this unit, students will learn about the origins of four major types of British surnames. They will consult lists to discover the meanings of specific names and later demonstrate their knowledge of surnames through various group activities. They will then compare the origins of British to certain types of non-British surnames. In a final activity, the students will research the origins and meanings of their own family names.

    Guiding Questions

    • What are the origins of British surnames?
    • What did these names once tell about the people who bore them?
    • What similarities exist between British and non-British surnames?
    • How can we find the origins of our own surnames?

    Learning Objectives

    • Explain how and why surnames came to be
    • Describe four types of British surnames and give examples of each
    • Compare the derivations of British and certain non-British surnames
    • Tell the origin and meaning of their own surnames

    Preparation Instructions

    Become familiar with the materials used in the lesson plan. Locate and bookmark websites you plan to use. Download and duplicate charts used in the activities. Secure several copies of a local phonebook for the Assessment exercise in Lesson 3.

    You can find additional background information about surnames at the following sites:

    The Lessons

    The Basics

    Grade Level

    3-5

    Subject Areas
    • Art and Culture > Subject Matter > Anthropology
    • History and Social Studies > Place > Europe
    • History and Social Studies > Place > The Americas
    • History and Social Studies > World > The Medieval World (500 CE-1500 CE)
    • History and Social Studies > Place > The Middle East
    • History and Social Studies > Place > Asia
    Skills
    • Critical thinking
    • Cultural analysis
    • Discussion
    • Gathering, classifying and interpreting written, oral and visual information
    • Interpretation
    • Logical reasoning
    • Making inferences and drawing conclusions
    Lesson Plans: Grades 9-12
    Curriculum Unit

    Woodrow Wilson and Foreign Policy (4 Lessons)

    Created July 16, 2010

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    The Unit

    Overview

    Woodrow Wilson numbers among the most influential Presidents in the history of U.S. foreign policy. Elected in 1913 as a Progressive reformer, the former college professor and governor of New Jersey expected to devote his time and talents to fulfilling an ambitious domestic reform agenda. Foreign policy, Wilson assumed, would be a secondary concern. As he remarked, "[i]t would be the irony of fate if my administration had to deal chiefly with foreign affairs."

    That irony was soon realized. In 1913, Wilson repudiated his predecessors' Dollar Diplomacy. (Dollar Diplomacy called for the U.S. government to promote stability, primarily in Latin America and the Caribbean, in order to yield investment opportunities for American companies, with the hope that the development would also result in prosperity for the affected nations.) Certainly Wilson supported private American investment in Latin America and elsewhere, but the promotion of democracy was a higher priority. In 1914, disturbed by the violence of Mexico's revolution (and the arrest of U.S. sailors in Tampico), Wilson sent American troops across the border. The next year, he dispatched Marines to Haiti.

    The international event that most preoccupied the President was, of course, World War I, which broke out in Europe in August 1914. Wilson declared neutrality for the United States and urged Americans to remain impartial as well. Neutrality, however, quickly proved difficult. Just as American attempts to sell goods to France and Britain during the Napoleonic Wars had incurred the wrath of those battling Great Powers, so, too, did this wartime trade result in violations of U.S. neutrality. The British Navy seized goods bound for German ports; German submarine attacks on Allied ships resulted in American deaths. In April 1917, with German provocations growing worse, Wilson asked Congress to declare war on the Central Powers.

    Wilson's actions were not merely reactive, however—far from it. After taking office, Wilson quickly evolved an ambitious foreign policy. Although he drew upon several durable traditions in U.S. foreign relations, most notably an abiding faith in the superiority of democracy, Wilson's foreign policy was unique in its own right. Among other points, "Wilsonianism" advocated the spreading of democracy, the opening of global markets, the creation of an international organization dedicated to keeping peace, and an active global role for the United States. The dispatch of troops to Mexico and Haiti reflected these goals, but it was through entry into World War I that Wilsonianism reached its high point. "The world must be made safe for democracy," declared the President, and, once the war was won, he hoped to achieve this aim through a just and fair peace treaty and the formation of the League of Nations.

    In this curriculum unit, students will study the formation, application, and outcomes-successes and failures alike-of Wilson's foreign policy. Students will subsequently appreciate the profound legacy of Wilsonianism in U.S. foreign relations as they continue their study of modern U.S. history.

    Guiding Questions

    • What was Wilson's foreign policy, and how did it differ from previous American foreign policy?
    • How did the Wilson administration respond to revolution and civil unrest in Latin America?
    • After almost three years of neutrality, was the decision to intervene in World War I justified?
    • Were Wilson's Fourteen Points realized in the Versailles Treaty?

    Learning Objectives

    • Discuss how the academic career and Progressivism of Wilson shaped his ideas about foreign policy
    • Identify four major points of "Wilsonianism": spreading democracy, open markets, an international organization dedicated to keeping peace, and an active global role for the United States
    • Explain what was both traditional and new about Wilsonianism
    • Identify American economic and strategic interests in the Western Hemisphere
    • Explain how the U.S attempted to safeguard American economic interests and promote democratic reforms in Latin America during Wilson's presidency
    • Discuss how Wilson's actions reflected his foreign policy principles
    • Explain why many Latin Americans resented or resisted U.S. actions
    • Explain why the United States adopted a policy of neutrality after the outbreak of war in Europe in August 1914
    • Identify challenges to American neutrality
    • Explain why Wilson decided to request a declaration of war
    • Discuss the ways in which Wilson wanted to use victory in the war to fundamentally change international relations and to promote the spread of democracy
    • Discuss how the Fourteen Points, especially the League of Nations, demonstrated Wilsonian principles
    • Summarize the aims of the other Allied powers at the Paris Peace Conference
    • Identify which of the Fourteen Points became part of the Versailles Treaty

    Preparation Instructions

    First, review each lesson plan. Second, find and bookmark the recommended links and materials from each lesson's EDSITEment reviewed websites. Third, download and print out selected documents and duplicate copies, as needed, for student viewing. (As an alternative, excerpted versions of the documents are included on the Text Document.) Fourth, download the Text Document for this lesson, provided here as a PDF, which includes questions for students to answer. Finally, print and copy the handouts you will use in class.

    Analyzing primary sources

    To provide your students with the skills needed to examine primary sources, you may find it helpful to visit the Learning Page from the Library of Congress.

    In particular, students may find the Mindwalk activity useful in preparing to work with primary sources.

    At the National Archives website, the Digital Classroom provides worksheets to practice document analysis.

    The Lessons

    • Lesson 1: The Origins of "Wilsonianism"

      Created July 16, 2010
      Because of the First World War and its aftermath, Woodrow Wilson fashioned an  ambitious international agenda.

      The influence of President Woodrow Wilson on American foreign policy has been profound and lasting. Using a variety of primary sources, students analyze the origins of the ambitious foreign policy that came to be known as Wilsonianism and compare it with important alternative traditions in American foreign policy.

    • Lesson 2: "To Elect Good Men": Woodrow Wilson and Latin America

      Created July 16, 2010
      Woodrow Wilson changed the course and tone of U.S. policy towards Latin  America.

      President Woodrow Wilson and his first Secretary of State, William Jennings Bryan, rejected the Dollar Diplomacy that had guided U.S. relations with Latin America during the administration of William Taft. Wilson resolved that the United States would only recognize Latin American governments founded upon law and order, "not upon arbitrary or irregular force. In this lesson, students analyze Wilson's attempts to carry out this "missionary diplomacy" in Haiti and Mexico as well as the responses of selected Haitians and Mexicans.

    • Lesson 3: Wilson and American Entry into World War I

      Created July 16, 2010
      Woodrow Wilson tried to keep America out of World War I

      In August 1914, President Woodrow Wilson asked Americans to remain impartial in thought and deed toward the war that had just broken out in Europe. For almost three years, the President presided over a difficult, deteriorating neutrality, until finally the provocations could no longer be ignored or negotiated. In this lesson, students analyze one of the most significant moments in twentieth century U.S. foreign relations: Wilson's decision to enter World War I in order to make the world "safe for democracy."

    • Lesson 4: Fighting for Peace: The Fate of Wilson's Fourteen Points

      Created July 17, 2010
      In the aftermath of the First World War, Woodrow Wilson tried to push a  comprehensive and enlightened peace plan.

      In January 1918, less than one year after the United States entered World War I, President Woodrow Wilson announced his Fourteen Points to try to ensure permanent peace and to make the world safe for democracy. Wilson's aims included freedom of the seas, free trade, and, most important, an international organization dedicated to collective security and the spreading of democracy. Through the use of primary source documents and maps, students examine Wilson's Fourteen Points, as well as his efforts to have them incorporated into the final peace treaties.

    The Basics

    Grade Level

    9-12

    Subject Areas
    • History and Social Studies > Place > Europe
    • History and Social Studies > Place > The Americas
    • History and Social Studies > Place > The Caribbean
    • History and Social Studies > U.S. > The Emergence of Modern America (1890-1930)
    • History and Social Studies > Themes > War and Foreign Policy
    Skills
    • Critical analysis
    • Critical thinking
    • Evaluating arguments
    • Historical analysis
    • Interpretation
    • Making inferences and drawing conclusions
    • Map Skills
    • Representing ideas and information orally, graphically and in writing
    • Textual analysis
    • Using primary sources
    • Writing skills