Grade Level & Unit: The ideas and ideals of the Enlightenment fit in with the H/SS Standards at the end of 7th grade and the beginning of 10th grade.
7.11: “Students analyze political and economic change in the 16th, 17th,
and 18th centuries (the Age of Exploration, the Enlightenment, and
the Age of Reason)”
7.11.4 & 5: Explain how the main ideas of the Enlightenment influenced
democratic thought and institutions. [Paraphrase]
10.2.1 Compare the major ideas of philosophers (e.g. Locke, Montesquieu,
Rousseau, Bolivar, Jefferson, Madison) and their effects on the
democratic revolutions. [Paraphrase]
Purpose of the Lesson: The primary purpose of this lesson is to provide students with a means of grasping the main concepts of the Enlightenment, as well as the personalities of some of the major philosophes of the era.
Length & Class Hours: When I piloted this lesson with students, we had access to a computer lab for an entire week. This provided students with the internet and word processing tools. Depending upon your students, I would recommend 5-7 class periods, plus 2-3 nights of homework.
Teacher Materials: After scheduling time in a computer lab, teachers will want to download the Mind & Music Matrix and the grading rubric. Each group will need a copy of these items. If a lab is not available, teachers can download information or use library resources for students to gain the necessary research. Newspapers will be helpful for students to get a grasp of the contemporary problem. If a computer lab is not available, teachers will also need to download and copy the student portion of this lesson; each group will need a copy of the lesson.
Interdisciplinary Connections: This SCORE lesson incorporates literacy skills and performing arts while adhering to the H/SS Standards for world history.
Adaptations for Special Needs: This lesson was designed to specifically address the needs of ELL/LEP students and/or those who are struggling with literacy skills. All of the electronic resources within this lesson have been previewed with addressing the needs of these students in mind. In the past, I have had students with visual impairments. I have made modifications for these students by downloading the research and having it enlarged or Brailled.
Background Information: The Age of Enlightenment was a time of reason, rational thinking, and a strong belief in human progress. The Enlightenment is an era that is tucked in between the Age of Exploration and the Age of Revolutions. Indeed, teachers could easily adapt this lesson to include thinkers such as Locke, Newton, Galileo, Smith, Hume, and Condorcet. The philosophes were very articulate intellectuals who addressed controversial issues of their time and frequently questioned traditional authority. Quite naturally, this put them on the outs with some of the ruling classes. However, this was also a time of “Enlightened Despots”. For example, Catherine the Great corresponded with both Voltaire and Diderot. Other “Enlightened Despots” included Frederick the Great of Prussia and Maria Teresa, Joseph II, and Leopold of Hapsburg heritage. Due partly to the high level of literacy among the philosophes and having the ear of some of the ruling class, the philosophes were able to make a impact on history. Part of the legacy from the philosophes was in how they shaped future history. Take Montesquieu, who made a significant impact on the U.S. Constitution. Most teachers are well acquainted with Rousseau’s ideas regarding the proper way to educate children. Voltaire’s Candide is frequently required reading for many high school students.
Additional Information for Teachers: When I did this lesson with students, I gave them the first period to read through the lesson and gain an understanding of the requirements. At the end of the first day, I collected a paper that had the group members’ names and the jobs each person was assigned. By the third day I collected the “Mind & Music Matrix”. I instructed students that with the exception of the first two cells of the matrix, they needed about a half page of research information. This gave me a spot check to see that people were on task and being productive. On the fourth day I had student begin composing their lyrics using the information on their matrix. On the fifth day I collected a draft of the song lyrics from students. I had marked and commented on their drafts; by the sixth day students were able to write their final drafts of their songs.
Some of the “teacher tricks” I pulled out of the hat for this lesson included instructions on how to use a rhyming dictionary and a thesaurus. I taught students how to count syllables and how to form rhyming couplet patterns. One of the best memories from this lesson was watching a blind student very carefully count the syllables in her group’s song.
Since this lesson was part of an institute directed toward students with ELL and literacy concerns, I tried to be especially cognizant of the readability of my sources. However, I also wanted to educate students in what “credible” sources look like. As part of the institute we received training from a linguist. This proved to be quite helpful as I looked at sources. I also had a few middle school students preview the electronic sources before I presented them to the entire class.
As always, I would love to hear how you have massaged and modified this lesson to fit your own unique style and classroom setting. I would also love to hear of any suggestions you have to make this lesson even better for future students.
Freda Kelly, email@example.com
Truman Middle School
16224 Mallory Drive
Fontana, Ca. 92335
I am very grateful to Dr. Peg Hill for her enthusiastic encouragement and the opportunities to produce SCORE lessons. It was her idea during a brainstorming session to have students offer commentary on a contemporary problem from the persona of the philosophes. Using SCORE lessons provides a powerful learning experience for my middle school students, who are fully equipped with a wide range of abilities and interests. My students tend to think that using the SCORE lessons is a privilege. Thus, they tend to be more motivated and engaged as they work their way through the lesson. SCORE provides a very effective method of incorporating technology into the curriculum.
Parts of this lesson came from my notes and experiences in three very great history classes. My first world history professor was Dr. Melvina Jones who is presently a Dean at a college in Sacramento. I also received a tremendous education from Dr. Blackey and Dr. Persell at California State University, San Bernardino. I’m very grateful that through the SCORE lessons, I’ve been able to share this wealth of knowledge with students.