Friday, March 6, 2015

Knights vs. Samurai

Instead of teaching feudalism in Europe and saying, "Oh, yeah. It happened in Japan, too." I decided to teach both at the same time through a DBQ that asks if the similarities between the samurai and the knight are greater than the differences. This prompt requires students to choose a side and sift through the evidence many times to prove it.

Goal: Explain the similarities and differences between the warrior classes of Post-Classical Japan and Europe.

In an effort to show students how the big picture can be revealed by looking closely, I chose a video that compares the katana and the longsword.

The Mini-Q

The DBQ (from the DBQ Project 2013) includes a background essay and six sets of documents.

  1. Students made notes of three similarities and three differences while reading the background essay. 
  2. Everyone stood and read an item on their list. As an item is read and discussed, students mark off the items on their list so there no repeats. 
  3. Students completed a DBQ worksheet that's designed according to the AP rubric.
  4. The last task is to discuss what an acceptable response statement (thesis) looks like. This includes reading through a few that are unacceptable, without revealing the student names. 
  5. Students partner according to the way I ordered the worksheets, which pairs stronger students with the weaker ones. 
Visiting warrior journal

Imagine a samurai travels to Europe and a knight to Japan. What would they write in their journals? Students write a journal entry as if they are one of the warriors in the scenario. What would a knight in Europe say about a visiting samurai? What would the samurai say? What would they teach each other?

Students can choose to write it on their blogs, make a video, write a fairy tale, or any other way. The most important requirement was that the final product had to include facts about the economy, society, and government in terms of similarities and differences from the point of view of the chosen warrior.

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