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Middle Ages Unit Plan

Instructor: John Hamilton

John has tutored algebra and SAT Prep and has a B.A. degree with a major in psychology and a minor in mathematics from Christopher Newport University.

Educate your students about the Middle Ages with this helpful unit plan. You will access a variety of resources with which to teach including activities, project ideas, discussion questions, and lesson plans.

The Middle Ages Lesson Outline

When you are educating your students about the roughly one-thousand year period of the Middle Ages, it helps to focus on the following four areas of study:

  • Comparisons to the era just before the Middle Ages, and the era just after the Middle Ages.
    • Do your students grasp how the Middle Ages differed from the classical era that immediately preceded them, or the Renaissance that immediately followed them?
  • Comprehension
    • Do the students understand the politics, religion, courtly love, and chivalry of the Middle Ages?
  • Defining Characteristics
    • What were the social structures of the Middle Ages? How did the poor and the rich differ?
  • Historical Significance
    • How did the Middle Ages change the world from the way it was previously? How did the Middle Ages influence the Renaissance and later centuries?

As you teach your lessons, try to return to the above four main points as often as possible, so as to reinforce those concepts.

Step One - Pre-Discussion

According to many historians, there exist a lot of misconceptions about the Middle Ages, including the fact that the Middle Ages or Dark Ages were not as bleak as people have been led to believe. You may also see this time referred to as the medieval period or post-classical history. It will help by having an opening discussion to gauge your students' level of knowledge. The following questions will aid you in your teachings:

  • When did the Middle Ages begin, when did they end, and what major events happened in the interim?
  • Why are the Middle Ages considered to be so important to historians?
  • What church had a great deal of influence during the period?
  • What was the feudal system and how did it control the lives of citizens?
  • Were the Middle Ages mostly positive or mostly negative? Why?
  • How are the Middle Ages perceived by modern scholars?
  • In what ways were transportation and trade so challenging in the Middle Ages?
  • What were merchant guilds, and what purpose did they serve?

Step Two - Library and Internet Research

After you have assigned the Middle Ages to your students, let them go online or to the school library to research about this period. They will want to keep a log of questions and comments, so they can refer back to them later. In addition, divide your students into four groups and assign each group one of the following topics:

  • Chivalry and Knighthood
  • Feudalism
  • Medieval Castles
  • The Church in the Middle Ages

Step Three - Class Discussion

After your students have completed researching facts from the Middle Ages, allow them to meet back in one large group to discuss their findings. You can refer to these lesson plans to assist you in discussing the topics you assigned in the previous step:

The The Dark Ages Lesson Plan also talks about many of these issues as well as the time period in general.

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