Lesson Plan 2
Lesson Title: Mongolian Empire
Lesson Author: Christine Malady
Key Curriculum Words:
3) Genghis Khan
4) Kublai Khan
5) Yuan Dynasty
6) Silk Road
7) Marco Polo
8) Huang He River
Grade Level: 9th
Time Allotted: 45 minutes
Purpose: In teaching this lesson, it is hoped that the students gain an understanding of the factors
that contributed to the creation of the largest single empire in human history. In
addition, students should grasp the benefits and disadvantages of the Mongolian Empire
on the Chinese people as a result of the Yuan Dynasty under Kublai Khan. Students will
be encouraged to use their critical thinking skills in evaluating the empire that allowed
two ends of the earth to connect and engage in cultural exchange.
1) Empire – A governing body that encompasses a significantly large territory and is comprised
of many different ethnic, religious and other demographic groups. Also, dispelling popular
myths about the largest empires being of European conquest and ruler ship (e.g. Rome,
Alexander the Great)
2) Cultural exchange as a product of empire – as a result of Mongolian rule, communication
and trade flourished between East Asia, the Middle East and even distant Europe due to
extension of the Grand Canal, policing the Silk Road, establishing courier stations and
providing a standard language.
3) The effect of the Mongolian rule on the Chinese people – the Yuan Dynasty brought both
positive (instituting effective government, cultural exchange, supporting the arts) and
negative changes (paying tribute, lack of self-determination, second class citizen status) for
the Chinese. Students will be encouraged to decide the net effect on the Chinese for
Background: This lesson belongs in a larger unit addressing East Asia in the 6th through 15th centuries.
The Sui, Tang and Sung Dynasties directly precede the lesson and provide prior
knowledge for the students about Chinese institutions, philosophies, religions, social
hierarchy, arts and trade. Students should be aware of the basic timeline of Chinese
history to this point. The lesson will be followed by an investigation of Japan.
Virginia Standards of Learning (unpacked):
- WHI.12(b) The student will demonstrate knowledge of political changes in the late medieval
period by explaining the Mongol conquests.
- WHI.12(b) The student will demonstrate knowledge of cultural achievements in the late
medieval period by explaining the Mongol conquests.
- I – The study of culture and cultural diversity
- II – The study of time, continuity and change
- V – The study of individuals, groups and institutions
- IX – The study of global connections
Enduring Understanding: In this lesson, students will be asked to think critically about the
potential positive and negative aspects of empire. In gaining an
understanding of how a political institution can facilitate trade,
standardize communication, provide social programs and spur cultural
exchange, the students will have more evidence to shape their
understanding of the nature and proper role of government. In
addition, students should grasp the concept that individuals and groups
have much to learn from and gain from interactions with different
societies and cultures. In other words, diversity leads to beneficial
enrichment of one’s own ideas, customs, esthetics, goods and services.
Skills for this Lesson: This lesson addresses the skills required in WHI.1 (a), in that the student
will analyze and interpret selections from the primary source The
Travels of Marco Polo. It also addresses WH.1 (b) and (e), in that the
students are evaluating the Mongolian homeland’s physical geography
from looking at pictures of Mongolia and evaluating cultural interactions
between societies in East Asia and Europe.
Values for this Lesson: It is the firm opinion of the author of this lesson that it is not the job of,
nor is it at all appropriate for, teachers to indoctrinate their students
with their own or society’s set of values. For this reason, students will
be encouraged to identify, consider the merits of and argue logically for
different ethical and political values—but values will never be presented
as objective imperatives to be taught and tested. In this lesson, the
students will evaluate the merits of empire in the context of the Yuan
Dynasty’s impact on the Chinese people.
- What is an empire?
- How did the Mongolian empire facilitate cultural exchange?
- What was the effect of the Yuan Dynasty on the Chinese people?
- The Mongolian Empire Power Point Presentation
- Mongolian Empire Slot Notes
Accommodations: A copy of the Slot Notes with the first letter in each blank will be given to
students who need extra organizational help in taking notes. Any other
accommodations that may be necessary for learners with disabilities will be
addressed on a case by case basis.
a. The Hook – In order to pique student interest, the class will be asked to reflect upon three
different terms that nearly all students should be at least somewhat familiar with (even if
their knowledge of the term is in a different context – e.g. the water game “Marco Polo”- as
these can be used as prior knowledge and tied in to the historical context as metaphors).
Each student will write individual his or her immediate thoughts when presented with the
words “empire,” “Marco Polo” and “Genghis Khan.” The instructor will facilitate discussion
about each term, being sure to emphasize that the largest empire in human history was the
Mongolian empire (most students will be sure to mention Rome as their first reaction to the
word empire) and the main criteria for empire. In addition, the instructor can draw
connections between the water game Marco Polo and the Italian explorer, because in the
water game you are searching territory blindfolded and Marco Polo was wandering
unfamiliar lands in search of foreign societies and diverse peoples.
b. Lesson Activities – This lesson consists of an interactive note-taking Power Point
presentation. The students will constantly be called upon to answer questions and provide
their own opinions and evaluations of the topics. In their slot notes they will have spaces
and opportunities to reflect upon their own opinion of the Yuan Dynasty’s net affect on the
Chinese people. The instructor will be sure to be clear on what needs to be filled in to the
notes without directly giving students the correct answer, so that they make inferences and
their attention is maintained.
c. Lesson closure – To review the material covered in this interactive lecture, the students will
be asked to write down the answers to four “Check for Understanding” questions that will
be collected as an exit slip and graded for participation. The teacher will read the answers in
order to get feedback on the effectiveness of the lesson.
Assessment Strategies: The teacher will constantly monitor student understanding through constant
questioning, discussion and student-led inquiry. In addition, the teacher will
collect exit slip questions at the end of the lesson in order to check for student