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A Visit to Japan's Heian-kyo Period

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A Visit to Japan's Heian-kyo Period

Unit Name: Technological Legacies

Content Areas: English Language Arts, Social Studies

Instructional Days - 3 (for the East Asia-focused portion of the unit)

Unit Overview
Students will explore the groups of people whose inventions and discoveries left a lasting impact on our present-day lives. Through in-depth examination of the inventions and contributions of Europeans from the Scientific Revolution era, medieval Muslims, medieval Chinese, medieval Japanese, medieval West Africans, and ancient and medieval Meso-American societies, they will develop a thorough understanding of the technological advances of the medieval period across a wide range of cultures. Students will evaluate the relative importance of each contribution after studying each discrete group.

Essential “Driving” Questions
Why do people create new technology?
What is an invention?
What can inventions reveal about the people who created them?

Standards / Key Concepts or Skills / Enduring Understandings
CA State History Standard 7.5.5 – Japan’s 9th and 10th centuries’ golden age of literature, art and drama and its lasting effects, including the Tale of Genji

ELA Common Core Standards:
Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.

Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words in order to address a question or solve a problem.

Analyze a case in which grasping a point of view requires distinguishing what is directly stated in a text from what is really meant (e.g., satire, sarcasm, irony, or understatement).

Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.

Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1-3 above.)

Suggested and/or required resources: (students may also use the provided material in Expository Reading and Writing Curriculum Units)
- Excerpt from the Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu
- Excerpts from “Short Essay Describing a Visit to Hase Temple” by Sei Shonagon and “A Dialogue on Poverty” by Yamanoue no Okura
- Other materials, including audio clip and video clip of bugaku performace, which allow teacher to create simulated upper-class Japanese home in the classroom

Evidence of Learning
Preview: Conduct formative survey answering the question, “What is the best way to tell a long story?” Distribute assignment asking students to share their answers to the question, then assigning as homework an informative reading on Murasaki Shikibu and her generation of upper-class female novelists. Conduct a short class discussion comparing the students’ chosen methods (TV, movies, video games, etc.) with Murasaki’s innovation of the novel, The Tale of Genji. This discussion could also touch on notable literary works like The Pillow Book and The Gossamer Years. Students should come away from this discussion fully aware that the upper-class Japanese lifestyle of the Heian-kyo period led to the development of women as the preeminent literary figures in Japan. Ideally students would also receive the challenge of reading at least an excerpt from Genji or another primary source and interpreting it to add breadth to their understanding.

Performance Task (2-3 class periods): Students will divide into groups and move through the classroom, which has been arranged to simulate an upper-class Japanese home from the Heian-kyo period. Stations may vary depending on class size, but ideally topics covered would include: Japanese class structure, political leadership, recreation, beauty and fashion, literary tradition, artwork and other relevant topics that help create the picture of Heian court society.

Each station will include an informational text page and a visual display, along with questions about the correct procedure in each social setting. For example, the political leadership station includes a painting of Fujiwara Michanga, information about his standing at court, and questions about whether to bow to show respect, or ignore him because he is considered a fool.

Students will show mastery of the material by selecting the “correct” (by upper-class court society standards) response in each situation and writing a short (1-2 sentence) explanation of their choice in the designated space on their chart. Teacher can designate the amount of points available at each station; one suggestion is to offer a certain amount of credit for choosing the “correct” action and another amount for writing a well-reasoned explanation.

Summative Assessment: Students will learn through visual displays several possible explanations for the downfall of the Heian court. Using the evidence compiled during the Performance Task, students will write a short (1-2 paragraphs) explanation of their choice of the most likely reason for the period’s end.

Cognitive Difficulty Level -NEW Bloom's Taxonomy (H)

Recalling, identifying, or describing EXISTING information

Understanding, summarizing, or paraphrasing EXISTING information

Using EXISTING information in a new way