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Napoleon Bonaparte:

Hero or Villain?
9th Grade
Estimated Time: This is the last day of a four day section.
Day Four: 45 minutes
Goal: To develop an opinion on the character of Napoleon Bonaparte after learning about his
deeds and misdeeds, successes and failures, and loves and losses during his reign in Europe.
Objectives: The students will be able to:
Read about and research the life events of Napoleon Bonaparte
Think critically about the effects of his actions in Europe
Draw conclusions as to the virtue or vice of his campaigns
Defend their opinion with factual evidence
Debate the topic with their peers with minimal teacher intervention
Write a summary of their final opinion following the discussion
National Standards: World History Content Standards, Era 7
Standard 1A: Explain how the French Revolution developed from constitutional monarchy to
democratic despotism to the Napoleonic empire.
Describe how the wars of the revolutionary and Napoleonic period changed Europe and assess
Napoleons effects on the aims and outcomes of the revolution.
Standard 4A: Identify major characteristics of 19th-century European nationalism and analyze
connections between nationalist ideology and the French Revolution, Romanticism, and
liberal reform movements.
ALCOS Standards: 9th Grade Social Studies
7. Describe the impact of the French Revolution on Europe, including political evolution,
social evolution, and diffusion of nationalism and liberalism.

Identifying causes of the French Revolution

Describing the influence of the American Revolution upon the French Revolution

Identifying objectives of different groups participating in the French Revolution

Describing the role of Napoleon as an empire builder
Overhead presentation (visuals)
Napoleon figurine (realia/set induction)
Facts sheet handout
Special Education Accommodations: Lesson was planned with the Special Education teacher to
ensure that IEP goals were being met.
Learning Disabled:

Facts sheet color-coded

Given more time to read/analyze

Small group discussion time
Behavior Disorder:

Seat student closer to teacher

Use hand signals

Use praise and/or reinforcement for appropriate discussion behavior (waiting for turn,
speaking constructively, etc.)
Instructional Model: Discussion Model. This model requires students to openly debate and
discuss a controversial topic by first learning something about it, creating an opinion or idea
about it, then defending that opinion with information gained during the learning or research
phase. Topics in history, such as the nature of Bonaparte's character, are well-suited to this
model, since they allow for differences in interpretation and use historical fact as a basis for
forming arguments. Students learn to research information, develop ideas about it, and
communicate those ideas effectively. The outcomes are improved interpersonal/social skills,
increased proficiency with reading and research, and development of critical-thinking skills.

Discuss various aspects of Napoleon's life in days previous to this lesson (love life,
political life, foreign and domestic campaigns, etc.)

Encourage students to do further reading at home and suggest reputable/useful
websites, books or movies.

Ask students to begin to develop an opinion of Napoleon's character during early
lessons/informational introductions.
Set Induction:

Show image of Napoleon crowning himself Emperor of France.

Ask students what they think is happening in painting.

Ask students what kind of person they think the object of the image is (written
response of 3-4 words describing their perception of him).
Set Induction II (personal relevance):

Show image of man imitating Napoleon's style of posing (hand in shirt)

Give background of image (husband admires Napoleon for his strength and
determination despite his small stature).

Present husband's Napoleon figurine.

Ask students: should my husband admire this man? Is he worth emulating? Was
Napoleon Bonaparte a hero or a villain?

Have students write down initial response in 1-2 sentences.
Small Group:

Hand out facts sheet containing details of Napoleon's life and leadership.

Have students work in small groups to read and analyze the list of positives and negatives
to review the information learned previously.

Have them discuss quietly.
Whole Class:

Explain simply and briefly the 3-Corner Debate (students must place themselves in
either the Hero, Villain or Unsure corner of the room; they may move to a different
corner at any time during the discussion but must be prepared to defend their choice).

Have students take their corners.

Repeat the question Was Napoleon a Hero or a Villain and why? and open the floor for
discussion. Have students speak freely but respectfully and try to convince their peers to
change corners.

As necessary, teacher will point out information on facts sheet and ask the group as a
whole why this fact is relevant to their argument or not.

Teacher will also facilitate conversation to ensure it is respectful and on-track.
Closure and Review:

Teacher has students look around the room and assess where the majority of their
classmates have chosen to stand. This gives the consensus of the room on Napoleon's

Ask any remaining Undecided students what they think Napoleon should be considered,
if not a Hero or a Villain.

Have all students raise their hands in a final vote, taking any new categorizations into

Ask students for ideas as to Napoleon's significance/legacy today.

Teacher will observe, monitor and (when necessary) direct small group work and

Teacher will facilitate discussion by questioning, scaffolding and probing when

Teacher will observe students' interactions and participation.

At the conclusion of the discussion, students will write a short (one paragraph) response
to the question Why did you choose to stand and debate in the corner that you did? Did
you change your mind at any point during the discussion? Why? Do you think the class
as a whole rightly labeled Napoleon? Why or why not?