Leq: How can considering multiple perspectives create a deeper analysis of a text? Learning Objective

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Biography Unit

Lesson 2: Alexander the Great 7th Grade

LEQ: How can considering multiple perspectives create a deeper analysis of a text?

Learning Objective: Students will examine characteristics of a historical figure using inference skills and a writing assignment.

Students will describe key events in Alexander the Great’s life from two different perspectives through a live debate.


  • CC.1.2.7.A (E07.B-K.1.1.2) Reading Informational Text: Key Ideas and Details/Main Idea.

  • CC.1.2.7.B (E07.B-K.1.1.1) Reading Informational Text: Key Ideas and Details/Text Analysis.

  • CC.1.2.7.E (E07.B-C.2.1.2) Reading Informational Text: Craft and Structure/Text Structure.

  • CC.1.2.7.F (E07.B-V.4.1.1, E07.B-V.4.1.2, E07.B-C.2.1.3) Reading Informational Text: Craft and Structure/Vocabulary.

  • CC.1.2.7.L Reading Informational Text: Range of Reading.

  • CC.1.4.7.G Writing: Opinion/Argumentative.

  • CC.1.4.7.I (E07.C.1.1.2, E07.E.1.1.2) Writing: Opinion/Argumentative/Content.

  • CC.1.4.7.S (E07.E.1.1.1, E07.E.1.1.2, E07.E.1.1.3, E07.E.1.1.4, E07.1.1.5) Writing: Response to Literature.

  • CC.1.5.7.A Speaking and Listening: Comprehension and Collaboration/Collaborative Discussion.

  • CC.1.5.7.B Speaking and Listening: Comprehension and Collaboration/Critical Listening.

  • CC.1.5.7.D Speaking and Listening: Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas/Purpose, Audience, and Task.


  • Activating Strategy: WordSplash-Characteristics of a good leader.

  • Finish reading Alexander the Great biography, if needed.

  • Discuss the life of Alexander the Great.

  • Discuss how Alexander the Great became a King at such a young age.

  • What characteristics/personality traits allowed Alexander to become a King at such a young age?

  • What kind of individual was Alexander the Great?

  • Explain to students that they will be engaging in a debate on whether or not Alexander was a great leader (hero) or not (villain).

  • Show students a video clip of a debate, in order for students to gain an understanding of what a debate looks like in real life.

  • In groups, have students write three reasons for why Alexander the Great was a good leader and why he was not.

  • Explain to students that they want to develop effective reasons, because they will be using it in the debate.

  • Must develop ideas for both sides, because you will be picked at random for the debate.

  • List good and bad qualities of Alexander the Great on chart paper.

  • List on chart paper leaders of today – Are qualities from Alexander the Great still present in the leaders today?

  • Divide class into two teams – one side villain, one side hero – persuasive role playing: Was Alexander truly great or did he just inherit his father’s legacy? (debate style)

Alexander the Great was one of the best-known rulers in ancient history. By the time of his death at thirty-two, he ruled the largest Western empire of the ancient world.

There is nothing impossible to him who will try.” –Alexander the Great

Education by tutors

Alexander was born in 356 B.C.E. to King Philip II of Macedon and Queen Olympias. Growing up, Alexander rarely saw his father, who was usually involved in long military campaigns. Olympias, a fierce and possessive mother, dominated her son's youth and filled him with a deep resentment of his father. Nonetheless, their son's education was important to both parents.

alexander the great.

One of Alexander's first teachers was Leonidas, a relative of Olympias, who struggled to control the defiant boy. Philip hired Leonidas to train the youth in math, archery, and horsemanship (the training and care of horses). Alexander's favorite tutor was Lysimachus. This tutor devised a game in which Alexander impersonated the hero Achilles. Achilles was a heroic Greek warrior from a famous ancient poem called the Iliad. Achilles became the model of the noble warrior for Alexander, and he modeled himself after this hero. This game delighted Olympias because her family claimed the hero as an ancestor. In 343 Philip asked Aristotle the famous Greek philosopher and scientist, to tutor Alexander. For three years in the rural Macedonian village of Mieza, Aristotle taught Alexander philosophy, government, politics, poetry, drama, and the sciences. Aristotle wrote a shortened edition of the Iliad, which Alexander always kept with him.

Beginnings of the soldier

Alexander's education at Mieza ended in 340 B.C.E. . While Philip was away fighting a war, he left the sixteen-year-old prince as acting king. Within a year Alexander led his first military attack against a rival tribe. In 338 he led the cavalry and helped his father smash the forces of Athens and Thebes, two Greek city-states. Alexander's relationship and military cooperation with his father ended soon after Philip took control of the Corinthian League. The Corinthian League was a military alliance made up of all the Greek states except for Sparta. Philip then married another woman, which forced Alexander and Olympias to flee Macedon. Eventually Philip and Alexander were reunited.

Alexander as king

In the summer of 336 B.C.E. at the ancient Macedonian capital of Aegai, Alexander's sister married her uncle Alexander. During this event Philip was assassinated by a young Macedonian noble, Pausanias. After his father's death Alexander sought the approval of the Macedonian army for his bid for kingship. The generals agreed and proclaimed him king, making Alexander the ruler of Macedon. In order to secure his throne, Alexander then killed everyone who could have a possible claim to the kingship. Although he was the king of Macedon, Alexander did not automatically gain control of the Corinthian League. Some Greek states rejoiced at Philip's murder, and Athens wanted to rule the League. Throughout Greece independence movements arose. Immediately Alexander led his armies to Greece to stop these movements. The Greek states quickly recognized him as their leader, while Sparta still refused to join. The League gave Alexander unlimited military powers to attack Persia, a large kingdom to the east of Greece.

Asian campaign

In October 335 B.C.E. Alexander returned to Macedon and prepared for his Persian expedition. In numbers of troops, ships, and wealth, Alexander's resources were inferior to those of Darius III , the king of Persia. In the early spring of 334 Alexander's army met Darius's army for the first time. Alexander's army defeated the Persians and continued to move west. Darius's capital at Sardis fell easily, followed by the cities of Miletus and Halicarnassus. The territories Alexander conquered formed the foundations of his Asian empire. By autumn 334 Alexander had crossed the southern coast of Asia Minor (now Turkey). In Asia Minor, Alexander cut the famous Gordian Knot. According to tradition, whoever undid the intricate Gordian Knot would become ruler of Asia. Many people began to believe that Alexander had godlike powers and was destined to rule Asia. Then, in 333 Alexander moved his forces east and the two kings met in battle at the city of Issus. Alexander was outnumbered but used creative military formations to beat Darius's forces. Darius fled. Alexander then attacked the Persian royal camp where he gained lots of riches and captured the royal family. He treated Darius's wife, mother, and three children with respect. With Darius's army defeated, Alexander proclaimed himself king of Asia. As a result of the defeat, Darius wanted to sign a truce with Alexander. He offered a large ransom for his family, a marriage alliance, a treaty of friendship, and part of his empire. Alexander ignored Darius's offer because he wanted to conquer all of Asia.

Campaign in Egypt

Alexander then pushed on into Egypt. Egypt fell to Alexander without resistance, and the Egyptians hailed him as their deliverer from Persian domination. In every country, Alexander respected the local customs, religions, and citizens. In Egypt he sacrificed to the local gods and the Egyptian priesthood recognized him as pharaoh, or ruler of ancient Egypt. They hailed Alexander as a god. Alexander then worked to bring Greek culture to Egypt. In 331 B.C.E. he founded the city of Alexandria, which became a center of Greek culture and commerce.

More fighting in Persia

In September 331 B.C.E. Alexander defeated the Persians at the Battle of Gaugamela. The Persian army collapsed, and again Darius fled. Instead of chasing after him, Alexander explored Babylonia, which was the region that Darius had abandoned. The land had rich farmlands, palaces, and treasures. Alexander became "King of Babylon, King of Asia, King of the Four Quarters of the World." Alexander next set out for Persepolis, the capital of the Persian Empire. To prevent an uprising, Alexander burned Persepolis. In the spring of 330 he marched to Darius's last capital, Ecbatana (modern Hamadan). There Alexander set off in pursuit of Darius. By the time Alexander caught up with Darius in July 330, Darius's assistants had assassinated him. Alexander ordered a royal funeral with honors for his enemy. As Darius's successor, Alexander captured the assassins and punished them according to Persian law. Alexander was now the king of Persia, and he began to wear Persian royal clothing. As elsewhere, Alexander respected the local customs.

There are no more worlds to conquer!” –Alexander the Great

Alexander's death

In the spring of 323 B.C.E. Alexander moved to Babylon and made plans to explore the Caspian Sea and Arabia and then to conquer northern Africa. On June 2 he fell ill, and he died eleven days later. Alexander's empire had been a vast territory ruled by the king and his assistants. The empire fell apart at his death. The Greek culture that Alexander introduced in the East had barely developed. In time, however, the Persian and Greek cultures blended and prospered as a result of his rule.

Although Alexander the Great only ruled for 13 years, many consider him the greatest military leader of all time. During his reign, Alexander conquered Greece, the Near East, Persia, and India, ruling an empire that stretched 3,000 miles from the Mediterranean Sea to the Indus River. Historians often view Alexander’s conquests favorably because of several notable attributes. His sheer military genius and bravery drove him to conquer many new lands. Also historians have praised him for allowing his subjects to continue practicing their own customs and beliefs. More importantly, Alexander was responsible for the rapid spread of Greek culture and ideas throughout the ancient world. Alexander was a very capable warrior from the time he was a young boy.

However, some attribute Alexander’s military accomplishments to the army left to him by his father. At the time of his father’s death, the army was already prepared to pursue a goal he had set out to accomplish years earlier. Although, Alexander’s military conquests of foreign lands were impressive, he neglected his own kingdom of Macedonia. Two years after he succeeded his murdered father, Alexander set out for the East, to begin his military campaigns and never returned home. Alexander was prone to emotional outbursts throughout his life. His troops and closest advisors were most likely to feel his wrath. His fierce temper frequently caused him to make poor decisions, resulting in excessive casualties in battle. Finally, Alexander was said to be a failure as a ruler, because he neglected to designate a legitimate heir to succeed him.


Debate Organizer



Alexander the Great was a good leader

Alexander the

Teaching Notes

Alexander’s Empire

A. The Macedonians were a people who lived in the mountains of northern Greece.

B. They were a war-like people, much like the people of Sparta.

C. The king of the Macedonians was Philip II.

1. Philip admired the Greek culture and set out to unify all of the now weak Greek city-states by force.

2. Philip conquered all of the major city-states of Greece except for Sparta. He then announced that he had plans to invade the Persian Empire, at this time the largest in the world.

3. His most brilliant military accomplishment was the Phalanx.

4. Just before Philip was ready to attack the Persians, he was murdered.

D. Philip II was succeeded by his son Alexander, who later became known as Alexander the Great.

1. Very well educated, he had been taught by Aristotle.

2. Eventually conquered the Persian Empire and Egypt.

3. Built the city of Alexandria.

4. Died at age 33 of a fever, malaria.

5. Without his leadership, his empire soon fell apart.

6. Considered by many as the greatest general/warrior of all time.

  • Developed siege weapons such as the catapult.

  • One of Alexander’s greatest achievements was to spread Greek culture throughout his empire and to also bring knowledge from the empire back to Greece.

Biography Questions

  1. Who was the father of Alexander the Great? Philip II

  • Philip taught Alexander the ways of war and how to govern a country.

  • Philip was a successful general who had conquered the city-states of Greece.

  • He created many invention and innovations on the battlefield.

  • His most significant accomplishment was the development of the Phalanx.

  • Phalanx= group of soldiers who are all armed with spears up to 15 feet in length. These soldiers will point their spears forward and march in unison.

  • Philip kept the best of Greek culture and expanded its trade routes when the city-states were conquered.

  1. What famous Greek teacher was the personal tutor for Alexander? Aristotle

  2. Before the expansion of Alexander, what empire was the greatest in the world? Darius I

Things Alexander Inherited

  • Greek economy was strong, and the treasury was full of money.

  • Greek culture was flourishing, and the people were well educated.

  • The Persian Empire was growing weaker day by day.

  • Philip II had created the Phalanx, which at this time was unbeatable.

Things Accomplished by Alexander

  • Marched for 11 years and covered over 22,000 miles.

  • Earned the loyalty of his army.

  • Brought Greek culture to a 22 million square mile area.

  • Set up a common system of currency in his empire.

  • Built the city of Alexandria in Egypt.

  • Incorporated the Persian and Greek cultures.

  • Brought scientists from all over his empire to Greece to educate his people.

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