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Rethinking the Great Wall of China

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Amy Chen
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Rethinking the Great Wall of China

1.     A rationale for the proposed unit?

The geography of China allowed the country to be a great world power. For extra security, Shi Huang Di asked for a wall to keep Mongols out of China. That wall is now considered one of the world’s greatest wonders. What the textbook doesn’t cover is the cost of the Great Wall, not just the financial cost but the cost of human labor and sacrifice. In this unit, students will expand on their prior knowledge of the Great Wall from being an architectural achievement to the reasons it was built and how it got built.

2.     Skill and content objectives
Explain the geographic features of China that made governance and the spread of ideas and goods difficult and served to isolate the country from the rest of the world.

Students recognize the role of chance, oversight, and error in history.

Students recognize that interpretations of history are subject to change as new information is uncovered.

Students interpret basic indicators of economic performance and conduct cost-benefit analyses of economic and political issues.

3.     Detailed lesson plan

Day 1

Objective: Students will take a tour of Great Wall with VR using the Google Expeditions app on their IPads then discuss the building and purpose of the Great Wall in a Socratic seminar.

Materials: IPads

I will use the Google Expeditions app to guide students on a tour of the Great Wall of China, directing them to certain stops along the tour.

Discussion: After the tour, students will participate in a Socratic Seminar by answering these discussion questions:

Why was the Great Wall built?

Who were involved in the construction of the wall?

Without modern technologies, how did such a grand feat such as the Great Wall get constructed?

What other great structures in other ancient civilizations are similar to the Great Wall?

Day 2

Objective: Students will build a scaled model of the Great Wall in groups of 4, each group being responsible for a section of it then write a group persuasive essay about why their design plan is the most cost and energy efficient.

Materials: Math notebook, IPads, rulers, calculators

Working with their Math teacher, in groups of 4, students will draw a blueprint design, first on paper then on their IPads. I will collaborate with their Math teacher for this interdisciplinary project by adding the persuasive essay component. Students will have to argue why their section of the Great Wall is the most efficient and cost efficient. They have to design the Great Wall with current modern technologies and distinguish how different the process is than the original wall.

Day 3

Objective: Students will research the history and costs of the Great Wall that is not written about in their history textbook.

Materials: Chromebooks, notebooks, library visit

Using the following website resources:

National Geographic


“The Hidden Story”

Students will create a short presentation about their findings, using a poster, Prezi, or Google slides.


4.     A plan for assessing student achievement
On day 1, I will assess how the students participate during the Socratic seminar discussion by observation and taking notes on what is shared. The students will earn points for participating.

The other graded assignments are the building project which will be assessed with a rubric that I will write with their Math teacher.

I will grade their persuasive essay and short presentation based on a Schoology rubric.