Cultural Universals

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SWBAT demonstrate their understanding of Machiavelli's central idea in The Prince by successfully completing a reading quiz on chapter 25. SWBAT demonstrate their understanding of cultural universals by creating maps in groups

Big Idea

Today we will explore how Machiavelli is a useful tool for integrated thinking in the classroom...And, share how a Worlds Studies course can be incredibly collaborative.


Because our take over the school activity took a little longer than we planned for it to take yesterday, I am swapping time with my social studies partner today. I won't always write up his lessons, but I thought it might be useful to show you what he is up to and how it matches to my activities/lessons.

I LOVE integration, by the way, and am very fortunate to work at a school that sees the essential connections between Social Studies and Language Arts. It's definitely a challenge because you are constantly negotiating with another person about what is essential and what timing can/should look like, but you also get the benefits of always having someone in your classroom who can offer feedback and advice. A good partnership is priceless...and I have a great partner!

Additionally, the Common Core has a specific set of literacy standards tied to Social Studies content. Through our integrated class, we will be able to help students meet both my teaching partner's standards and my own. For example, today we are meeting the standard that requires students to read texts from the social sciences (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.10), to analyze how texts use structure to emphasize key points (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.5) and to summarize a text paying attention to contextual detail and identify how key events or ideas are events or ideas are developed over the course of a text as a whole (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.1).


10 minutes

Even thought today is a complete Social Studies day, we will still do our reading time. My teaching partner values this time as much as I do and often reads with me and the kids. He is currently reading Nickled and Dimed, which is a great non-fiction, Social Studies text and provides a good contrast to the novels I like to read (currently, I'm reading the Game of Thrones series--so good!=) The kids get two very varied perspectives on reading, which is pretty cool.

Machiavelli Quiz

20 minutes

Machiavelli is a common text for both of my partner and I. I used it as a tool for teaching rhetoric and he will use it as a tool to teach Renaissance political theory. He hasn't gotten to his uses of it yet, but has been integral in the discussions so far.

To wrap up those discussions, students will take a quiz over the final chapter we read in common. I am asking them to show me their ability to read and comprehend something on their own and am hoping that they will be able to see the inherent logos in his writing, which meets both my standards (RI.9-10.2 and RI.9-10.5) and my teaching partner's standards (RH.9-10.10 and RH.9-10.5).


Cultural Universals Review

25 minutes

While we've been reading Machaivelli and studying rhetoric, they have also been looking at the concept of cultural universals and tracing trends between cultures of the far and middle east during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. They are recording their findings in group created posters.

Today, the students will continue to work on these group posters by adding information about the Ottomans and the Safavids. While they work, I will assist my teaching partner by circulating around the room answering and asking questions.

Levels of Questioning/Interpretation: Map Drawing

25 minutes

As a way of introducing something that both I and my teaching partner will be using to push our kids to think/respond at higher levels of reasoning, we will do an activity today that will test their ability to describe something at a basic level.

The students will be put into groups of 10 and told to go and stand by one of our wipe boards. They will then have to instruct one group member to draw a map without looking at it. The other students will be able to look at their books and offer specific instructions, but they will be disqualified if they are caught showing or gesturing in any way.

Once all groups have completed their maps, I will judge for accuracy and teamwork and we will hand out prizes (dum-dum suckers=) to the winning groups.

This activity is meant to show students the amount of detail we require in level one observation. Level one observations are the concrete details that address the who, what, when, where of history or literature. Next week we will introduce them to level two (inferential) and level three (analytical or evaluative thinking).

Crash Course World History Video and Discussion

20 minutes

To review the chapters they have been reading in the history textbook, my teaching partner will show the Crash Course World History video on the Venice and the Ottomans by John Greene (the brilliant and clever author, educator, blogger, Ms. Keigan's professional crush, etc.).

These ten minute videos give great and fast-paced overviews of historical time periods and are a great review tool for students. Once they watch the video, my teaching partner will lead them through a discussion of the key ideas and connections with their reading. I will offer support by asking questions or helping him call on people he doesn't see readily.