Chinese Dynasties: Part One: The Shang Dynasty Through the Tang Dynasty (1600 BCE to 907 CE)
This unit focuses on six early dynastic periods in Chinese history. Highlights of the materials presented are the following: detailed drawings of bronzes, oracle bones, Legalist quotations, Han poetry, visuals concerning the rise of Buddhism, and helpful maps and visuals relative to the Tang dynasty. Includes 1 CD-ROM.
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An Analysis of the Unit Entitled: Chinese Dynasties Part 1: Shang through Tang Dynasties
Louis C. Dangelo, Grades 7 – 12, Social Studies, Geibel Catholic Junior – Senior High School
An Analysis of the Unit Entitled: Chinese Dynasties Part 1: Shang through Tang Dynasties
When examining any unit of curriculum, particularly in the Social Studies which often include vast amounts of factual information, three questions about the critical attributes of the unit come to mind. First, is the scope of the unit both comprehensive yet manageable? Second, is the sequence in a logical order? Third, are the content related activities within the unit designed in a manner to evoke meaningful student responses across multiple domains and learning styles?
Using these questions as a guide, I was delighted to find, first of all, that the scope of the unit was quite comprehensive, covering a period of over 2,500 years of the Chinese Dynasties from 1600 B.C.E. to 907 C.E. At the same time, the scope was rendered to be quite manageable, due to the varieties of presentation methods and materials. The sequence within the scope was also very logical for much the same reason. The true gems within this unit came through the answers to my third analysis question about content related activities. The student activities are delightfully varied across domains and learning styles, enabling students to have meaningful experiences which foster concept retention, no matter what strengths each student may possess. Some of the student activities that stood out to me were such tasks as; skits based on legalist quotation, designing your own taotie, timeline creation, and time capsule creation. These activities across the learning spectrum provide age appropriate experiences from grades 5 through 12 which will keep the learners effectively engaged.
Using my three questions as a guide, I have come to the conclusion that this unit is of very high quality, and is designed to maximize effective instruction in a manner which is interesting and which holds the potential for personal relevance to every student.
Curriculum Unit Review: Chinese Dynasties, Part I: The Shang through the Tang Dynasty, 1600 BCE to 907 CE Developed by Waka Takahashi Brown and Selena Lai, copyright 2006 by the Leland Stanford Junior University Board of Trustees
My name is Matthew Williams. This past fall (2015) I examined Brown and Lai’s curriculum unit, Chinese Dynasties Part I , from the Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education for my NCTA seminar class at the University of Pittsburgh.
Before I get into my review I should provide a little background about me so that the perspective from which I am reviewing this curriculum unit is fully apparent - I am a ninth-grade World History I teacher at an all-girls Catholic high school in western Pennsylvania. At my school, World History I covers the contributions of global mankind from the Stone Age to approximately 1000 CE, with a major focus on the original river valley civilizations and some of the civilizations that sprang up near these origins, including Greece and Japan. Teaching at a single-ed private institution I am fully aware that my ideas for how to utilize this material are somewhat different from many others. That said, hopefully my recommendations are still useful.
According to Brown and Lai, the Chinese Dynasties curriculum unit is designed for learners ranging from 5th – 12th grade. The unit is broken into 6 ‘Lessons,’ a detailed unit introduction including required materials and pacing, and a culminating unit activity. Each of the ‘Lessons’ generally focuses on one of the Chinese dynasties (Shang – Tang) or intermediary periods in Chinese history and includes materials for four to eight 50-minute classes; lessons generally follow the same format of an introductory reading followed by two to three cooperative in-class activities and a small project. Here, the authors place special emphasis on Chinese art and literature. The culminating activity, entitled ‘Time Capsule,’ is a project requiring students to pull together everything they have learned from the six ‘lessons’ by curating a collection of key artifacts.
The detail of Chinese Dynasties is one of its greatest strengths. If you are new to teaching about China or are just looking for some ways to enrich your current curriculum, this unit can be very helpful. The primary documents the authors include, even the authors own overviews, are easily adaptable to ability of students and definitely a huge time-saver for a busy teacher wishing to include more primary texts into the classroom. The section comparing the three major Chinese Philosophies (and the students own world view) is, in particular, a great example of the easy to follow structure paired with challenging texts included throughout the unit. The answer keys and pacing guide are also useful, including how many days each activity should take and what would be good homework or enrichment to include on each day of the lesson.
One possible drawback of the unit is that the actual content and activities skew towards the abilities and interests of younger learners. I wouldn’t try many of the included activities in this unit with eleventh or twelfth graders and those that I would do with them would need to be made a bit more challenging. For instance, ‘Design [and color] Your Own Bronze Vessel’ on a piece of paper might be an acceptable way to introduce early junior high students to the Shang Dynasty, but as a high school activity it is questionable.
Additionally, the hands-on activities that make for some very engaging learning are rather front-loaded in the curriculum’s lessons. Later lessons focus more heavily on graphic organizers and text analysis (possibly because they are intended for more mature learners?) than the activities that are included in the first lessons. And, on a few occasions, activities from earlier lessons are uninspiringly recycled in later ones, offering diminishing returns from students – Lesson One’s Oracle Bone Translation and story writing is rebranded Qin Stone Inscription Translation and story writing.
Lastly, and not any fault of its own but still a detractor, the unit’s 2006 release means that the incorporation of technology is quite minimal. The closest Brown and Lai get to incorporating technology is including transparencies for an overhead projector. Internet sources or short video segments are absent. So too is any form of online assessment or web activity. Resultantly, many of the included activities need to be updated to play to the skills and interests of 2016 learners.
Ultimately Brown and Lai’s Chinese Dynasties, Part I is an excellent starting point for helping an educator confidently teach about China, but it should only be a starting point and definitely not the only material her students encounter.
Review of CHinese Dynasties Par One
NCTA Curriculum Review: Chinese Dynasties- Part One
Pine Richland HS
Grades: 10th, 11th, 12th
Subjects: World History, AP US History, AP Government
This Curriculum Unit is well done and very thorough, at least from my limited perspective. There are many activities, some hands-on which are wonderful. It covers all aspects from politics to art. Goals, standard alignment, sources, and lessons are all clearly stated. I would find this very usable if I were to attempt to cover all of these eras.
I am interested in teaching my world history classes more about Chinese culture and politics and nothing separates and allows them to make sense of a broad amount of material than a dynasty by dynasty guide. However, the time period does not fit the needs of my curriculum. But, I am interested in the following sections, particularly. I only wish there was a Part two.
• Chinese writing, ancient text translation activity-this would be a great activity to introduce Chinese culture at any time period and hands on activities are always desirable
• Comparing Confucius, Daoism, Legalism-this would be a great introduction to a discussion on the effects over time on Chinese society as well as an overall discussion of the role of the government in society
• Time Capsule Activity- a great way to summarize previous dynasties as my course starts with the Ming Dynasty/ This would be a good way to introduce the dynastic concept as well as provide background to the Ming period.
• Images of dynasties-visuals always good.