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Poetry, Dynasties, Mulan, and the Great Wall

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Brenda-Jean Shephard
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Poetry, Dynasties, Mulan, and the Great Wall




The writing involved in this project will be single-complete sentence answers to guiding questions, descriptive captions including adjectives and prepositional phrases, and short (3-5 sentence) explanatory paragraphs, because these are the types of writing we encounter most frequently in the course of daily life.



RL.4.7. Make connections between the text of a story or drama and a visual or oral presentation of the text, identifying where each version reflects specific descriptions and directions in the text.

SL.5.2. Summarize a written text read aloud or information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally

RL.6.3. Describe how a particular story’s or drama’s plot unfolds in a series of episodes as well as how the characters respond or change as the plot moves toward a resolution.



a.  Students will use the reading comprehension strategy of visualizing to recognize a familiar plot line in a poem that is about 1500 years old.

b.  Students will identify plot characteristics (setting, characters, rising action, conflict, turning point, resolution) in a work of literature presented in the form of an animated film.

c.  Students will collaboratively research specific historical time periods and identify the people involved, the elements of culture, and the cause/effect of the rise and fall of various ruling factions.



a.  Chinese poem written c. A.D. 500 (English translation) print hard copy for each student:

b.  movie: Mulan (on DVD or Google Play)

c.  Summary/timeline of dynasties from  to c. 2852 B.C.E. to 1911 C.E. (online):



3 Parts:

  1. Analyze poem
  2. Watch Mulan, with directed questions
  3. Research Dynasties, prepare Google slide presentation to summarize findings


a.  The poem will be printed without any clues connecting it to Mulan.  Students will read it individually, in pairs, or groups of 4.  They will be guided to visualize the story and analyze the action until they independently make the connection that it is describing the Mulan story.  Depending on how long it takes to identify this, there will be time for students to search up different versions of the story and make comparisons.  As a homework assignment, they should find and watch a YouTube video about the Great Wall of China, sharing a link to the Google classroom, along with a rating and a single-sentence rationale for that rating.  Watching the highest-rated or most-recommended videos can be the basis for a subsequent class discussion.


b.  The Disney movie Mulan will be presented, with pauses as needed for observations and guided analysis.  Students will complete a plot diagram or other visual representation of the setting, characters, rising action, conflict, turning point, and resolution of the story.


c.  Groups of students will be assigned (by random drawing) one of the 16 Dynasties/historical time periods described in the online resource

They will research additional sites as needed to complete a Google classroom assignment answering the following questions:

Where did the name “China” come from?

Who were the Han people?  Which dynasties were ruled by Han people and which were not?

How long did your dynasty/time period last?  How did it begin and why did it end? If your dynasty lasted less than 100 years, you can exchange it for another dynasty if you want.

What do B.C., B.C.E., C.E., and A.D. mean?

During which dynasties/time periods was the Great Wall built or rebuilt?

Describe the state of the Great Wall during your time period.

What does “Imperial China” mean?  Was your dynasty an Imperial Chinses dynasty?

Which dynasty/time period was the movie Mulan set during?  What evidence supports your claim?

16 possible groups:

3 Sovereign/5 Emperors (c 2852 B.C.E. – 2205 B.C.E.)

Xia Dynasty (c. 2100 B.C.E. – 1600 B.C.E.)

Shang Dynasty (c. 1766 B.C.E. – 1122 B.C.E.)

Zhou Dynasty (c. 1122 B.C.E. – 256 B.C.E.)

Qin Dynasty (221 B.C.E. – 207 B.C.E.)

Han Dynasty (206 B.C.E. – 220 C.E.)

3 Kingdoms/6 Dynasties (220 – 280 C.E.)

Jin Dynasty (265 – 420 C.E.)

Southern and Northern Dynasties (420- 589 C.E.)

Sui Dynasty (581 – 618 C.E.)

Tang Dynasty (618 – 907 C.E.)

5 Dynasties/10 Kingdoms (907 – 960 C.E.)

Song Dynasty (960 – 1279 C.E.)

Yuan Dynasty (1271 – 1368 C.E.)

Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644 C.E.)

Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1911 C.E.)

Finally, each group of 4 will create a slide presentation for their assigned Dynasty/time period with

  1. Image(1) and a multiple-sentence description of how the Dynasty/time period began
  2. Images(3)/descriptions of the rulers and common people during the Dynasty/time period
  3. Images(3)/descriptions of the art associated with the Dynasty/time period
  4. Image(1) and a multiple-sentence explanation of how the Dynasty/time period came to an end.



  1. Informal observation of individual participation in group discussion.  Each student should submit a link to a youtube video about the building of the Great Wall of China.
  2. Setting, characters, and plot points will be identified and described in single complete sentences, on a chart  or other visual format.
  3. Images will be found and used appropriately to depict the events, people, and cultural highlights of each period, along with complete sentences and paragraphs describing the setting, characters, and “plot” of the actual historical epochs.



Having researched and compared different versions of the Mulan story, and presented hypotheses on what time periods may have been the setting(s), the students could work collaboratively to present a dramatization of their own version of the story.  There could be a guided conversation about the role of gender and why some people throughout history and in the present day choose to present themselves as a different gender.  The movie Yentl would be appropriate for this conversation.