Unit Plan – Grade Eight: Medieval Japan, 1185-1600 Rationale

Download 40.24 Kb.
Size40.24 Kb.
Unit Plan – Grade Eight: Medieval Japan, 1185-1600
Rationale: This unit is integral to the grade 8 Social Studies curriculum, which explores various world cultures. It addresses Japanese history and culture with a focus on the medieval period and will meet the prescribed curriculum goals listed below. As Prince of Wales is made up primarily of students with an Asian background, it is important that the history of Asia is explored and the activities encourage students feel a personal connection to the material. As this is a grade 8 class, the activities in this unit will be well-scaffolded so students are supported in their development of critical thinking and collaboration skills that will prepare them for the follow years of study. The activities in this lesson also focus on multiple intelligences and learning styles so that everyone is encouraged to feel comfortable and engaged in the material being introduced. This unit aims to cover a significant amount of material and to interest students in an important period of Japanese history while also exposing them to many different learning-based activities.

Prescribed Learning Outcomes:

  • Gather and organize a body of information from primary and secondary print and non- print sources, including electronic sources

  • Describe a variety of diverse cultural traditions and world religions

  • Describe how physical geography influenced patterns of settlement, trade, and exploration

  • Analyse how people interacted with and altered their environments, in terms of: population, settlement patterns, resource use, and cultural development

  • Compare daily life, family structures, and gender roles.

Unit Goals:

  • Describe the conditions that gave rise to feudalism, as well as political, economic, and social characteristics of feudalism, in Asia

  • Investigate the Japanese feudal structure and how it influenced daily life

  • Develop critical thinking and collaboration skills


Lesson Title

Lesson Critical Question

Specific Lesson Objectives



Assessment Strategies

Lesson 1: Introduction to Medieval Japan

How can we relate Japanese feudalism to European feudalism?

  • Analyze the way Japanese aristocratic life was portrayed in the fictional work, The Tale of Genji, by Murasaki Shikibu

  • Provide a basic introduction to Japanese history

  • Introduce the unit on feudal Japan and set the tone for the following classes

Introduction of unit

Hook: interactive Japan time-map use time maps to introduce students to the geography of Japan and a brief overview of Japanese history between the years 750 and 1648 AD.


Activity: The Tale of Genji

Have students read sections from the Tale of Genji out loud from their textbooks and excerpts that have been handed out.

Unpacking Images from The Tale of Genji: show students images on Scrolls from the story; scaffold analysis of images in connection to pieces of the story read previously; in small groups, have the students determine what life was life in aristocratic feudal Japan based on their knowledge from the story; what role did women play? Was Murasaki Shikibu an anomaly?

Exit Slip ask students to fill out a handout and write about one aspect of the class routine that they really enjoy, and something new that they would like to see implemented and their favourite part of history to learn about

Interactive Timemap
Pathways textbook
Excerpts from the Tale of Genji
Images of scrolls from the Tale of Genji

Formative: exit slip will be collected to check for understanding and to assist in structuring future lessons

Lesson 2:

Geography of Japan

(link to BC geography?)

How has the geography of Japan influenced its development?

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the physical geography of Japan, it’s physical relationship to surrounding countries and evaluate how geography has influenced patterns of settlement and trade

Hook: Have students discuss their diet here compared to what we know about Japanese diet; then have the class analyse these areas in which these foods are produced—exploring the use of terraces, rice paddies, etc in Japan (how the diet is determined by geography)

Activity: Teacher lead discussion on the main points of Japanese geography—including the large percentage of mountainous areas, high population density in the cities, the uniqueness of the different regions, the islands, and the agricultural practices

Activity: Case study of Himeji castle and its surroundings provide students with photographs of Himeji castle alongside geographical maps; have students collaborate in groups to group the photographs with their descriptions and then fill out a handout describing the relation between the structure of Himeji and its geographic position; discuss with students how this castle was similar to the European medieval manor and the sustainability of the Himeji castle commune

Closure: video providing further explanation on Himeji castle

Powerpoint—potentially using interactive Time-maps again
Folders with photos of Himeji castle and its surroundings with worksheets for each students
Himeji Castle Video

Summative: students will be assigned a map handout that they will need to complete for homework and which will be graded for 5 marks

Lesson 3: Experiencing Japanese Feudalism

How is the history of Japanese feudalism different or similar from other societies we have studied before? OR How does the social structure of feudal Japan define individuals’ lives?

  • Describe the basic social, political, and economic structure of feudal Japan

  • Recognize the different roles people in feudal Japan were placed in and assess how these roles determined their lifestyles

Hook: Fruit Ninja in Real Life video

Activity: students are given role cards for emperor, shogun, daimyo, samurai, and peasants and arrange themselves around the classroom to depict a model of feudal Japan; based on the cards and the different stations, students will act out the basic roles of the society so that they can visualize the social, political, and economic structure of Japan at this time (Medieval Japan job descriptions)

Activity: Ninja vs. Samurai + role of samurai women

Show clip from The Last Samurai where the ninjas attack; Have students analyse the film for differences between the samurai and the ninjas; have students come up with as many characteristics of both in pairs (alternating pairs between ninjas and samurai)

Homework: divide the class in half and have each side research either ninjas or samurai; inform them that they will be participating in a brief class-wide debate over which was more influential in feudal Japan. Go over research techniques and sites that would be appropriate so that students are prepared; students should also be aware of the information on samurai in their textbooks (pg. 190-191)

Real Fruit Ninja YouTube video

Sets of role cards (with station markers)
Ninja battle scene from The Last Samurai movie

Formative: students will be assessed for learning based on their participation during the main activity

Lesson 4: Continuity and Change in Feudal Japan

Which changes, between the early and late feudal Japan, most significantly influenced Japanese society at the time?

  • Understand the chronological progression of Japan through the feudal period

  • Recognize the differences to female roles

  • Assess the impact that the continuity and change of specific aspects of feudal Japan had on society

Hook: Begin class with short debate over which was more significant to feudal Japan: samurai or ninjas. Then show short videos on both (have students fill out a Venn diagram comparing ninjas and samurai during videos that students can use as notes)

Activity: Provide students with handout/overview of the

Historical Periods during feudal Japan (in folder):

Kamakura Period (1185-1333)

Muromachi Period (1336-1573)

Azuchi Momoyama Period (1568-1603)
Continuity and Change based on the handout and a folder with images depicting political, social, military, and geographical aspects of Japan, have students fill in the TC2 Continuity and Change handout; include images and discussion of the role of women—images of Hojo Masa-ko, “mother shogun” and Samurai women
Exit Slip: students will be asked to write an exit slip about the role of women in feudal Japan. They may ask questions or write what they learned in class or outside of class

Venn Diagrams

Samurai YouTube video

Ninja YouTube video
Overview of historical periods of feudal Japan
TC2 Continuity and Change Chart
Set of political, military, geographical, and social images from early feudal Japan and late feudal Japan

Summative: Venn diagrams will be marked as homework; exit slips will also be collected
Formative: participation in debate will be assessed for comprehension and as learning to ensure students are enjoying themselves as well as understanding the material

Lesson 5: Feudal Culture

How does the study of Japanese cultural practices during the feudal period help us better understand the more violent aspects of the history?

  • Review the importance and range of the arts and cultures in Japanese feudalism

  • Assess the intersection of Japanese politics and culture

Hook: Have students close their eyes and listen quietly to the video clip: The Zen Mind – An Introduction to Empty Mind Films. After the clip, have them consider what points of the video they would consider “religion.”

Activity: set up stations with pieces of art/poems for the students to walk around and observe; provide worksheet for students to complete during the gallery walk
Activity: group students and pass out briefs of the 3 major religions in Japan (Shinto, Buddhism, and Zen Buddhism); Jigsaw: have students read one of the briefs and then explain it to their group mates; students listen as each section is explained and fill out handout as notes; ensure role of women in each religion is illustrated
Closure: give students list of vocabulary for quest/review session

The Zen Mind video clip (introduction)
Station markers

Art/poems for gallery walk

Gallery walk worksheet
Briefs on 3 Buddhism, Zen Buddhism, and Shinto


Summative and Formative: Students will hand in their religion handout for a homework mark in class or next day

Lesson 6:

What was the most significant aspect of Japanese feudalism based on our study of the period?

  • Review and consolidate information in preparation for assessment

  • Understand the main points of the unit as a whole and summarize those points in relation to others

Review (Jeopardy with Study stacks) +

Quest (Small test/big quiz)

Computer with study stacks

Formative: a check for understanding will be taken during the review session to predict how students will do on the quest

Summative: students will be given a quest (long quiz/short test) about the unit


  • Research Japanese castle towns, like Himeji; compare to Medieval European castles

  • Investigate Japanese cultural practices—tea ceremony, Zen Buddhism, no dram (peaceful aspects)

  • Watch samurai film

  • Assess parallels between samurai military practices and training with the contemporary Japanese business community

  • Global Ed—The Japan Project; Enrique Rodriguez at Brooklyn Technical High School

  • Ninjas vs. Samurai (?)Info on How Stuff Works; class-wide debate: have students assess which were more important to feudal Japan; Venn diagram for notes

    • Videos—Fruit Ninja in Real Life

  • Division of classes by time period or by theme?

  • Final review—study stacks; jeopardy

  • A Case Study of Medieval Japan through Art: Samurai Life in Medieval Japan—from The Program for Teaching East Asia website; set up stations with pieces of art/poems for the students to walk around and observe; provide worksheet for students to complete during the gallery walk

  • SPAM lesson Samurai, Peasants, Artisans and Merchants; Mr. Donn’s lesson plan for feudal Japan

  • Samurai Spiders video

  • Memoirs of a Secret Empire on PBS

Note-taking lessons ensure students know which handout are considered “note-taking tools” so they know what to study for the test

Download 40.24 Kb.

Share with your friends:

The database is protected by copyright ©essaydocs.org 2022
send message

    Main page