Medieval life comes alive in this middle school social studies classroom as students examine the life and times of people from this historical period. All middle school students wrestle with the Essential Question, Can we really be whatever we want to be? and in this unit they explore this question from their own perspective as well as from the perspective of people living during medieval times. After conducting extensive research about medieval life, and answering questions such as, How did one’s role in medieval times influence their daily life?, What resources were available to a person living in medieval society? and, How was the power structure organized among various people in medieval society?, students select a medieval role to research further and then create a role-play performance for the class. All students experience an authentic feel of medieval life in regards to food, shelter, and heraldry by creating their own menu of medieval foods, building their dream castle, and creating a personal coat of arms based on the research they’ve gathered. To close the unit, students write an essay to connect their learning to their own life by revisiting the Unit Question, How is medieval life different from yours?
- Essential Question
Can we really be whatever we want to be?
- Unit Question
How is medieval life different from yours?
How did one’s role in medieval times influence their daily life?
How does form follow function in medieval castles?
- Content Questions
What resources were available to a person living in medieval society?
How was the power structure organized among various people in medieval society?
What were the various parts and functions of a castle in medieval society?
This timeline shows in chronological order the different types of formal and informal assessments that occur during the unit. The table below explains how each assessment is used and who uses it for what purpose.
| Students work on projects
and complete tasks
| After project work
|Assessment||Process and Purpose of Assessment|
|Brainstorming||Students use brainstorming to access prior knowledge. Teacher uses it to gauge readiness for medieval study.|
|Medieval Log||Students use the log to organize their ideas about medieval roles, document resources, and make connections. In the log, students respond to teacher prompts aimed at deepening the understanding of medieval times. Students use information from the log to create presentations and artifacts. Teacher uses the log to monitor each student’s research progress, check for misunderstandings, and provide clarification as necessary|
|Medieval Character Oral Presentation Rubric (doc)
||Students use the rubric to effectively plan oral presentations. Teacher uses it to assess the understanding and performance of the medieval character oral presentation.|
|Medieval Log Checklist (doc)
||Students use the checklist to monitor their progress through the research process. It helps ensure that they have all the necessary research components for the project.|
|Critical-Thinking Checklist (doc)
||Teacher uses this checklist to keep notes while questioning students as they work. The checklist helps track the critical thinking students are engaged in during the unit. Teacher also uses the checklist provide feedback to students and for assessment at the end of the project.|
|Discussion Checklist (doc)||Teacher uses the discussion checklist to observe student, notes participation in discussions, and reviews during the unit to adjust questioning as well as provide feedback. Teacher also uses it at the end of the project for final assessment.|
|Menu Scoring Guide (doc)||Students use this scoring guide to self-assess progress on the menu. It is also used as a final assessment by the teacher.|
|Castle Building Scoring Guide (doc)
||Students use the scoring guide to self-assess success of their blueprint and castle constructions. Teacher uses it to assess how well students understand the purpose, parts, and construction of a medieval castle.|
|Blueprint Peer Review (doc)||Students use this peer review form to assess the quality of each other’s blueprints. This guide provides the form and function pieces already filled in so students can compare to what is on the blueprint. Teacher uses the form to review student’s ability to offer objective feedback and then adjusts instruction as necessary.|
|Medieval Essay Rubric (doc)||During a final class session students are asked to respond to the Unit Question; How is medieval life different from yours? Teacher uses this rubric to assess student’s ability to connect their learning to their own lives.|
William Brooks participated in the Intel® Teach Program, which resulted in this idea for an assessment plan. A team of teachers expanded the plan into the example you see here.
At a Glance
Grade Level: 6-8
Subject: Social Studies
Topics: World History, Medieval European Life
Higher-Order Thinking Skills: Decision Making, Creativity
Key Learnings: Feudalism, Medieval Life, Ancient Architecture
Time Needed: 3-4 weeks, 3-4 hours per week, 45 minutes per class