H/SS Analysis Skills Standards Addressed:
A. Chronological & Spatial Thinking
1. "Students explain how major events are related
to each other on time."
B. Research, Evidence, & Point of View
1. "Students assess the credibility of primary
and secondary sources."
C. Historical Interpretation
1. "Students explain the central issues and problems
of the past
II. Content Standards
7.5 "Students analyze the geographic, political,
economic, religious, and social structures of
in terms of:
English-Language Arts Standards Addressed:
"Students demonstrate their knowledge of basic skill, conceptual understanding, and problem solving as they relate to written and oral English Language conventions."
Since this lesson's primary outcome is to produce a resume, one of the key connections is literacy via school-to-career communication. This lesson also strengthens research, presentation, and computer skills.
Purpose of this Lesson:
The purpose of this lesson is to feature a high interest aspect of Japanese society (i.e. Samurai) to drive the instruction of Medieval Japan. By using the Samurai as a cornerstone, students are better able to learn about Japanese religion, culture, geography, and history.
Length of the Lesson:
Educators would need 2-3 days to introduce this lesson and build a framework of knowledge by providing vocabulary and general content reading. Students need 3-4 days to do their research. The class needs 2-3 days for students to make their presentations for the note-taking component of this lesson. Groups need 2-3 days to prepare their Samurai Resume and Cover Letter, followed up with 1 more day for the interviews. Students need 1 more day to complete their "Conclusion" & "Reflection" pieces of this activity. Therefore, this lesson will require 11-15 days of instruction, combined with a few hours of homework.
Adaptations for Special Needs:
If the teacher decides to let students choose their own groups, he/she would have veto power over obvious "non-wise" choices. In designing this lesson and trying it out with students, it seems that the topic is of high enough interest to capture all ability levels. Students with limited English speaking abilities might be steered to some of the more concrete topics such as Japanese cities or weapons. Students with higher level reading abilities might be steered to some of the more abstract topics such as social groups or performing arts. In my teaching experiences, I have had students with a variety of physical limitations. For example, I know that when I prepare to teach this lesson I will need to make provisions for a blind student. I plan to manage this aspect by having her select her topic ahead of time. This will allow me to download information she will need and get it Brailled so she can participate in this activity.
Educators will need to download a copy of this lesson
and use their own creativity. In an ideal world, teachers would have
access to a computer lab in order to implement this lesson. However,
that is not entirely necessary, as I have used this lesson with students
in settings where I have had no computer access. If your computer
access is limited, here are some alternative suggestions:
In teaching the seventh grade H/SS curriculum, I like to plan to teach about China and Japan right after the Winter Holidays. This puts my class in a position to compare our holidays with Asian holidays. I always teach about China first, as it seems to set the stage for teaching about Japan. With this kind of framework, students learn better that while China had a major impact on Japan, the two nations have some distinct differences. One clear difference is that China did not have an equivalent to the samurai. The Japanese did not experience conquest by the Mongols. Using the H/SS Framework, I find it most fascinating that there are many similarities between the Knights in Medieval Europe and the Samurai in Medieval Japan. I love teaching about China and Japan, but have to carefully balance my time in order to give equal teaching time to the other components of the curriculum. With the opportunity to teach about Medieval and Renaissance Europe after Japan, that keeps the curriculum moving ahead without me getting too immersed in any one topic.
Freda Kelly, H/SS SCORE, 2000
I would love to hear from educators on how this lesson has played out with your students. The beauty of teaching is that we can share ideas and put our own unique twist on a lesson to make it most personal for our students. I want to thank Peg Hill for the opportunity to create this lesson for SCORE. I am also very grateful for the training I received last summer, as it has had time to settle into the levels of application and synthesis. Much of this lesson came from my participation with Project Vital Links in 1994 (via LACOE and Tom Gibbons). While my original lesson provided an interesting experience in teaching my students about Japanese History, this new format that incorporates technology is very exciting, and the next logical step. I've come to believe that technology is not only a great motivator for students, but also a supreme equalizer of opportunity.