Day Three. Today we introduced resources on teaching Period 3 (600-1450) and dealt with the Comparison Essay. In my experience, students struggle a little more with content in Period 3. They don’t come in with the background information they had for Period 2. How many of them have heard of the Abbasids or the Sui? Here is the file for Period 3 containing the Key Concepts in brief, my mashup for organizing the concepts into teachable topics, and a list of previous essays relevant to this era. For a study guide with questions pulled directly from the Key Concept Mashup, look HERE. A more involved assignment that requires students to address every element of Key Concept 3 in the order of the outline can be found HERE. As with all Units, pacing is imperative. Period three should comprise no more than 20% of your instruction days for AP World History.
In the past 2 years I have outsourced much of the content for the beginning of this unit and focused on skill building activities in the classroom. For example, students read the chapter on Islam on their own which I suppliment with podcasts for them to listen to. They also listen to podcasts for China. These can be found on the bottom of my Period 3 pages HERE.
Many teachers use Linda Shaffer’s influential article called Southernization at this point in the year. Here is the text of the article with an excellent mapping/question assignment developed by another teacher. Period 3 also requires you to deal with some famous travelers, such as Marco Polo, Ibn Battuta, or Xuanzang (KC 3.1.III.C.). Should you chose Xuanzang as your illustrative example, here is a reading/lesson based on his famous account called Journey to the West (or, Monkey).
Other important content topics for this era are:
- Tang/Song China (document exercise on Tang taxation, notes on Song China, influence of China)
- Islam (PPT on Islam, Impact of Islam, annotated practice essay)
- Mongols (effect of Mongols on trade, reading on Mongols and horses, PPT on Mongols)
The content for this unit, by the way, is all searchable on AP Worldipedia. Finally, I developed this review game for Period 3. Students have a lot of fun with it and say it helps them, but you may want to alter the content to update it to new Curriculum Framework and to reflect your illustrative examples (I wrote this for the Lesson Plan Jamboree years ago).
The Comparison Essay
This is not a difficult essay for students for students to wrap their minds around. However, unlike the DBQ it requires recollection of historical knowledge. Students also have to analyze the reasons for similarities and differences, something they perform poorly on at the reading. In this regard, the Building an Argument Tower would be helpful for students.
Like many teachers, I utilize Venn diagrams to get students in the habit of comparing and contrasting, and I do this long before they know I am preparing them for an essay. (For example, HERE is an activity my students complete in Period 2.) When students transfer these skills to their first attempts to write this essay, it’s imperative they don’t devote the first portion of their essay to one item of the comparison, and the next portion to the second item. In other words, if students are writing a comparison essay on Rome and China, they should not write half the essay on Rome and the second half on China. Rather they should write the first portion about what Rome and China have in common, and the second portion about how they differ.
Here is a multi-day exercise to get students to building a comparison essay from beginning to end. I let them brainstorm the prompt in groups and form the topic sentences, but each individual must compose the thesis and fill in the body blocks. Additionally, HERE is a thesis exercise to allow students to discuss the theses are legitimate or not (you can find a PPT form of this HERE and a suggested key for this exercise HERE.) After students write this essay I give them an example of what it might look like. To show them this same essay with annotations, check THIS out.
And finally, here is a PPT I use to introduce the Comparison Essay and in my end of the year review just before the test.
I hope you find this useful, and as always, please let me know of any thing helpful you find.