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Knight or Samurai?

Feudalism in Europe and Asia


Grade Seven
Ohio Standards
Connection:
History
Benchmark C
Describe the characteristics
of feudal societies and the
transition to the
Renaissance and
Reformation in Europe.
Indicator 3
Describe the conditions
that gave rise to feudalism,
as well as political,
economic and social
characteristics of
feudalism, in Asia and
Europe.
Social Studies Skills and
Methods
Benchmark D
Work effectively in a
group.
Indicator 4
Reflect on the performance
of a classroom group in
which one has participated
including the contribution
of each member in
reaching group goals.

Lesson Summary:
Knights in armor? Castles with moats? Ladies in gowns?
The Middle Ages was fascinating. But that was in Europe.
Were there feudal societies in other parts of the world? If
so, what was life like there? Students will research aspects
of either European or Japanese feudalism and create a skit
to present their findings to the class. For the postassessment, students will create a picture book describing
reasons for feudalism as well as political, economic and
social characteristics of these two societies.
Estimated Duration: Eight to nine hours

Commentary:
During this lesson students will have the opportunity to
delve into the feudal period in Europe, while at the same
time discovering information about the feudal society of
Japan. The class will use presentations to share their
learning about how and why feudalism arose and what it
was like in these two areas of the world during feudal times.
This lesson incorporates the use of graphic organizers, art
and drama to help teachers best meet the needs of students
with differing learning styles.
Since this is the main indicator for studying the Middle
Ages in grade seven, this lesson could be used as an
overview of the period or to culminate a longer and more
detailed study of the period.
Pre-Assessment:
Post the indicator for the class to read together. Conduct a
class discussion of the main concepts in the indicator and
underline the key words and phrases.
Have the class brainstorm the term feudalism and
determine a short definition. Post this definition along
with the indicator for the duration of the lesson.

Knight or Samurai? Feudalism in Europe and Asia


Grade Seven

Have students answer the following questions:


1. What was daily life like in the Middle Ages in Europe?
2. What was daily life like in the Middle Ages in Japan?
3. What was the government/social structure of the Middle Ages in Europe?
4. What was the government/social structure of the Middle Ages in Japan?
When the class has finished, have students orally share their ideas. Make a class
brainstorm chart to be posted for the duration of the lesson.

Scoring Guidelines:
Collect and assess student answers to determine the extent of prior knowledge. Use this
assessment to create heterogeneous groups and to determine who may need more assistance
with this topic.
Post-Assessment:
Have students create a picture book to describe the development and characteristics of
feudalism in Europe and Japan. Have the students show similarities between the two
societies.
Student instructions are available on Attachment A.
Scoring Guidelines:
Score the assignment for content, writing and illustrations using the rubric on Attachment B.
Instructional Procedures:
Day One
1. Conduct the pre-assessment.
2. Divide the class in half. Assign one half of the class European feudalism to research and
the other half Japanese feudalism. Divide each half into four heterogeneous groups, with
each group having a different topic. Assign and conduct a brief class discussion of the
topics:
Reasons for the Development of Feudalism;
Political Characteristics;
Economic Characteristics;
Social Characteristics.
3. Distribute the Checklist for Effective Group Work, Attachment F. Have groups read
through the listed criteria and inform them that they will be assessing themselves and
their group members each day that they work in groups.
4. Distribute the Question Sheet for Group Research, Attachment D. Have students circle
their region of study and identify the questions that go with their topic. Remind them that
it will be their responsibility to teach the class about their topic.
5. Allow students to use a variety of resources including textbooks, encyclopedias, trade
books and the Internet to answer the questions on their topic. Each student should

Knight or Samurai? Feudalism in Europe and Asia


Grade Seven
complete his/her own paper. Circulate to check progress, give helpful hints and keep
groups on task.
6. At the end of class, have students complete the Day One portion of the evaluation on
the Checklist for Effective Group Work, Attachment F.
Day Two
7. Have groups meet to complete their research. Circulate, check student progress and work
for accuracy. Allow time for groups to finish all questions and decide on correct answers.
8. Distribute the Task Sheet for Skit, Attachment E. Explain to students that each group is
responsible for a skit on the major characteristics of its topic.
9. Review script format by creating a sample on the board. Emphasize that the characters
name should be written with a colon after it and the dialogue of the character must follow
the colon.
10. Allow class time for students to begin work on their skits, following instructions on the
skit task sheet.
11. Circulate and conference with groups to hear their ideas and assess how well each group
is working together. Have students complete the group checklist for day two.
Day Three
12. Allow class time for final writing of scripts, deciding on actions, and final discussion of
props and costumes. Collect scripts to check on student progress and to make copies of
the script for each of the group members.
13. Have students complete the checklist for group work for day three.
Day Four
14. Have groups meet and continue to work. Hand back the scripts that you have copied for
the groups. Instruct students to use this time to finish the following tasks:
Practice scripts with movement, props and costumes. Memorization is not required.
Scripts may be used during skits.
Checkmark Task Sheet for Skit checklists to make sure all requirements are met.
15. Remind students to bring scripts and other needed items for the next class meeting. Have
students complete the group work checklist for day four.
Day Five
16. Distribute the Matrix for Class Notes, Attachment C.
17. Begin presentations with the European Reasons for the Development of Feudalism
group.
18. After the presentation, use an overhead transparency copy of the Matrix for Class Notes,
Attachment C, to record notes as the class discusses the important parts of the skit. Add
any additional information that you feel might have been missed.
19. Repeat the same process with the Japanese Reasons for the Development of Feudalism
group, adding notes in the appropriate section of the matrix.

Knight or Samurai? Feudalism in Europe and Asia


Grade Seven
20. Ask students to identify similarities they saw between the two societies. Write the three
or four most prominent similarities in the appropriate section of the matrix.
21. Repeat the presentation and note taking process with the groups for European and
Japanese Political Characteristics.
22. Have groups that presented complete the presentation day section of the group work
checklist.
Day Six
23. Repeat the presentation and note taking process with the groups for European and
Japanese Economic Characteristics.
24. Repeat the presentation and note taking process with the groups for European and
Japanese Social Characteristics.
25. Ask students to identify similarities they saw between the two societies. Write the three
or four most prominent similarities in the appropriate section of the matrix.
26. Have groups that presented complete the presentation day section of the group work
checklist.
27. Instruct students to read through the matrix of notes and circle the three most important
characteristics in each box of the matrix for homework.
Day Seven
28. Distribute and explain the picture book task sheet and rubric, Attachments A and B.
29. Distribute three pieces of drawing paper to each student to assemble books. Have
students stack paper horizontally and fold in half so that the nine-inch width of paper will
be the spine of the book. Distribute staplers and have students staple books close to the
folded edge.
30. Through whole-class instruction, lead students through the process of labeling their pages
in pencil. Lead the students through the following directions:
a. Turn to first set of pages;
b. Title the left side Europe: Reasons for the Development of Feudalism;
c. Title right side Japan: Reasons for the Development of Feudalism;
d. Continue with the next set of pages using Political Characteristics;
e. The next set will have Economic Characteristics;
f.
The next set of pages will have Social Characteristics;
g. Label both of last pages Similarities.
31. Have students begin with writing one paragraph for each page. The paragraphs should
contain a topic sentence and three sentences with supporting details. Suggest that each
paragraph should take up about half of the page with the other half left for the picture and
title.
32. As students work, circulate and conference with individuals about their choices of details.
Give extra assistance to those who need it. Allow students with writing difficulties to
make lists (optional).
33. Instruct students to complete the first four paragraphs for homework.

Knight or Samurai? Feudalism in Europe and Asia


Grade Seven
Day Eight
34. Check all students work to see that they have finished four paragraphs. Review
expectations.
35. Allow work time throughout this class period. Have students complete the other four
paragraphs in class or for homework.
Day Nine
36. Explain that this is the final work day. Circulate through the class to see that the
paragraphs are completed. Review expectations. Have students draw, paste in
illustrations and color as needed.
37. At the end of class time, have all students use the checklist on their task sheet to assess
their progress. Assign the completion of all tasks for homework
Day Ten
38. Have all students turn in finished picture books along with their assignment sheet and
rubric.
39. Conduct a class discussion to link the class back to the posted indicator and preassessment questions.
40. After assessment, create a wall or bulletin board display with the picture books.
Differentiated Instructional Support:
Instruction is differentiated according to learner needs, to help all learners either meet the
intent of the specified indicator(s) or, if the indicator is already met, to advance beyond the
specified indicator(s).
Use heterogeneous grouping to link experts with novices.
For students who need assistance on the assessment, copy the matrix of class notes and
highlight important information.
For students who require assistance with writing assignments, reduce the amount
required, allow lists instead of paragraphs and substitute illustrations for writing.
In heterogeneous grouping, have experts function as peer teachers.
Challenge students to add a page to their book answering the question Why did
feudalism last longer in Japan?
Extensions:
Have students perform as a Japanese or European feudal leader in costume. Have
students prepare and give a speech about the political, social and economic characteristics
of their society.
Have class members write a journal as a person from one of these feudal societies
describing what their life was like.
Conduct a Feudal Fair in which Japan and Europe are both represented. Students could
create models or other visual displays and greet guests in character.

Knight or Samurai? Feudalism in Europe and Asia


Grade Seven

For a possible field trip, visit the Johnson Humrick House Museum at Roscoe Village to
see a collection of Japanese feudal artifacts.

Homework Options and Home Connections:


Request help from parents in gathering needed supplies for models and costumes.
Recruit parent assistants for the days students are working on skits.
Interdisciplinary Connections:
English Language Arts
Writing Applications
Benchmark A: Use narrative strategies (e.g., dialogue an action) to develop characters,
plot and setting and maintain a consistent point of view.
Indicator 1: Write narratives that maintain a clear focus and point of view and use
sensory details and dialogue to develop plot, character and a specific setting.
Materials and Resources:
The inclusion of a specific resource in any lesson formulated by the Ohio Department of
Education should not be interpreted as an endorsement of that particular resource, or any of
its contents, by the Ohio Department of Education. The Ohio Department of Education does
not endorse any particular resource. The Web addresses listed are for a given sites main
page, therefore, it may be necessary to search within that site to find the specific information
required for a given lesson. Please note that information published on the Internet changes
over time, therefore the links provided may no longer contain the specific information related
to a given lesson. Teachers are advised to preview all sites before using them with students.
For the teacher: Chart paper, art supplies, textbooks and reference books.
For the students: Art supplies (paper, pens, colored pencils, markers, scissors, glue),
9 x 12 drawing paper (three pieces per student), craft supplies (fabric,
glitter, trims, ribbons, cardboard), old clothes for costumes, reference
books, textbooks, encyclopedias.
Vocabulary:
feudalism
medieval
castles
Middle Ages
characteristic
aspect
region
king
lord
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Knight or Samurai? Feudalism in Europe and Asia


Grade Seven

knight
peasant
Catholicism
clergy
manor
tax
chivalry
emperor
nobles
shogun
armor
Shinto
Zen Buddhism
bushido
daimyo
pagoda
merchants
craftsmen
samurai

Technology Connections:
Utilize computers with Internet access to supplement classroom resources.
Have students produce picture books using word processing or publishing software.
Research Connections:
Marzano, R. et al. Classroom Instruction that Works: Research-Based Strategies for
Increasing Student Achievement, Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and
Curriculum Development, 2001.
Summarizing and note taking are two of the most powerful skills to help students identify
and understand the most important aspects of what they are learning.
Identifying similarities and differences enhances students understanding of and ability to
use knowledge. This process includes comparing, classifying, creating metaphors and
creating analogies.
General Tips:
For a very small class, eight groups may not work well. Feel free to alter the groupings.
For example, you might combine reasons for the development of feudalism with political
characteristics and economic with social characteristics.

Knight or Samurai? Feudalism in Europe and Asia


Grade Seven

Copy the post-assessment instructions, Attachment A, and the rubric, Attachment B, back
to back to distribute to students as a task sheet. At the end of the lesson, have students
turn in the double-sided page with their picture books for assessment.

Instructional Tip:
There is a great deal of information for students to work through on these topics. As students
work on their research, look for understanding of the following concepts:
Europe experienced a period of feudalism during the Middle Ages, from the 9th Century
through the 15th Century. Feudalism in Japan lasted much longer, from the 12th Century
through the 19th Century. Feudalism is most easily defined as a form of decentralized
government. Land owners were given responsibility for regional government. Armed forces
were organized and secured through private contracts between the warriors (knights or
samurai) and the landowners (lords or daimyo).
Reasons for the Development of Feudalism:
Central government was in a period of weakness (fall of the Roman Empire).
Agricultural economy required a system of organization (cultivation of rice paddies).
Building projects required organization and capital, especially the construction of castles
in both Europe and Japan.
Threats from invaders led local leaders to organize warriors for local defense.
Similarities Between Feudal Europe and Feudal Japan:
The lord in Europe and the daimyo in Japan were both landowners who served the king
or emperor.
Landowners (lords and daimyo) controlled the local economies by dictating the use of
resources, collecting taxes or tithes, and establishing monopolies on products or services.
The lords and daimyo both depended on the knights and samurais to protect them and
provide military service.
Payment for military service came most often in the form of land grants.
Samurais and knights both wore armor, dedicated their lives to preparing for war and
followed a code of honor: bushido in Japan, chivalry in Europe.
Religion was an important part of life in both systems. The Europeans practiced
Christianity and the Japanese Zen Buddhism. Religion had a strong influence on daily
life, art and architecture.
Peasants served as the lowest class in both systems. They were bound to the land and
performed mostly agricultural duties. They were treated as the property of the lord.
Attachments:
Attachment A, Post-Assessment
Attachment B, Scoring Rubric for Post-Assessment
Attachment C, Matrix for Class Notes
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Attachment D, Question Sheet for Group Research
Attachment E, Task Sheet for Skit
Attachment F, Checklist for Effective Group Work

Knight or Samurai? Feudalism in Europe and Asia


Grade Seven
Attachment A
Post-Assessment
Picture Book of Feudalism in Europe and Asia
Name: __________________________________
Directions: Create a picture book to show the development and characteristics of feudalism
in Europe and Japan and show the similarities that you have discovered between the two.
Requirements:
1. Use your Matrix for Class Notes to gather your information.
2. Create a cover page with a title and creative illustration.
3. For each set of pages that face each other, place Europe on the left side and Japan on
the right. Title each page. For example: Europe: Political Characteristics (on the left),
Japan: Political Characteristics (on the right).
4. Place topics in your book in the same order they are on the matrix.
5. Each page must contain a paragraph with full sentences with examples and details
describing the topic listed at the top of the page.
6. Each page must contain a colored picture that illustrates at least one of the details
from your paragraph. Your pictures may be drawn, cut from magazines or printed
from online resources.
7. Create a final page in which you list at least two similarities for each of the four
topics that we studied (eight similarities in all).
Checklist to help you track your progress:
_______ I have a cover page with a title and illustration.
_______ I have eight topic pages (four for Europe and four for Japan).
_______ The eight topic pages are titled properly.
_______ The eight pages each have a paragraph.
_______ The eight pages each have a color illustration.
_______ I have a similarities page that is titled and describes eight similarities.
_______ My sentences are well written without spelling or grammar errors.
_______My writing is neat and readable.
_______ My picture book has an interesting design and lots of visual appeal.

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Attachment B
Scoring Rubric for Post-Assessment
Picture Book Rubric
4

Reasons for
the
Development
of Feudalism

Includes accurate
information and
examples on the
topic for each of
the two societies.

Includes accurate
information on the
topic for each of
the two societies.

Includes some
accurate
information on the
topic for each of
the two societies.

Includes little or
no accurate
information on the
topic for either of
the two societies.

Political
Characteristics

Includes accurate
information and
examples on the
topic for each of
the two societies.

Includes accurate
information on the
topic for each of
the two societies.

Includes some
accurate
information on the
topic for each of
the two societies.

Includes little or
no accurate
information on the
topic for either of
the two societies.

Economic
Characteristics

Includes accurate
information and
examples on the
topic for each of
the two societies.

Includes accurate
information on the
topic for each of
the two societies.

Includes some
accurate
information on the
topic for each of
the two societies.

Includes little or
no accurate
information on the
topic for either of
the two societies.

Social
Characteristics

Includes accurate
information and
examples on the
topic for each of
the two societies.

Includes accurate
information on the
topic for each of
the two societies.

Includes some
accurate
information on the
topic for each of
the two societies.

Includes little or
no accurate
information on the
topic for either of
the two societies.

Similarities
Section

Identifies and
describes at least
eight accurate
similarities.
Includes an
illustrated cover
and appropriate
illustrations on
each page.
Illustrations show
creative use of
color and design.

Identifies and
describes at least
six accurate
similarities.
Includes an
illustrated cover
and appropriate
illustrations on
each page.

Identifies at least
four accurate
similarities.

Identifies less than


three accurate
similarities.

Includes a cover
page and
appropriate
illustrations on
some pages.

Includes an
incomplete cover
and appropriate
illustrations on
only a few pages.

Some spelling and


grammar errors.

Many spelling and


grammar errors.

Illustrations
and Design

Writing
Quality

Minor spelling and Few spelling and


grammar errors.
grammar errors.

Comments:

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Knight or Samurai? Feudalism in Europe and Asia


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Attachment C
Matrix for Class Notes
Name: _____________________________

Europe

Similarities

Japan

Reasons for the Development of Feudalism

Political Characteristics

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Grade Seven
Attachment C (continued)

Europe

Similarities

Japan

Economic Characteristics

Social Characteristics

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Knight or Samurai? Feudalism in Europe and Asia


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Attachment D
Question Sheet for Group Research
Name: ________________
Directions: Circle the system of feudalism you have been assigned to research, either Europe
or Japan. Work with your cooperative learning group to find the answers to the questions for
your groups topic. Take notes on each of your questions and any other important
information related to your topic. You will use the information you find to teach the class
about your topic.
Circle your area of study:

Europe or Japan

Reasons for the Development of Feudalism


1.
2.
3.
4.

Describe what life was like in this region before the Middle Ages.
What others regions had influence on the development of your region?
What problems existed in this region just before the Middle Ages?
Describe what is meant by a feudal system. What were the dates for the feudal period in
your region?
5. Summarize the reasons that this type of a feudal system arose in this region.

Political Characteristics
Political characteristics are any that have to do with government and power.
1. List the social classes of this region in order from the highest (most powerful) to the
lowest (least powerful).
2. During this period, who was the main ruler of this region? What kind of power did that
leader have?
3. What other group controlled much of the power over smaller areas of this region? What
were the smaller areas called?
4. What group defended the leaders of these small areas?
5. What other groups lived in these smaller areas? What rights did these groups have under
their leaders?
6. Was it possible or likely that an individual could move from a lower class to an upper
class?

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Knight or Samurai? Feudalism in Europe and Asia


Grade Seven
Attachment D (continued)
Question Sheet for Group Research
Economic Characteristics
Economic characteristics are any that have to do with money, how people make a living and
how the government obtains money.
1. List the social classes of this region in order from the highest (most powerful) to the
lowest (least powerful).
2. What was the main way that individuals obtained wealth?
3. How did government leaders obtain money or income?
4. What was the main way that ordinary people made a living in this region? What goods or
services did they produce?
5. Describe the local buying and selling of goods. Was this a barter or monetary system?
Where did trade take place? How were prices determined?
6. Describe any regional or long distance trade in which the people of this region
participated. With whom did they trade? What goods and services were available? How
were prices determined?

Social Characteristics
Social characteristics are any that have to do with how people lived in this region.
1. List the social classes of this region in order from the highest (most powerful) to the
lowest (least powerful).
2. What was daily life like for the highest classes?
3. What was daily life like for the lowest classes?
4. What was daily life like for the classes in between the highest and lowest classes?
5. Could people move easily from one social class to another?
6. What role did religion play in this society?
7. Describe where and how people lived. In what types of houses? In villages, towns or
cities?
8. What were the roles of men, women and children in family life? What were they each
responsible for?

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Attachment E
Task Sheet for Skit
Name: _________________________ Group Topic: __________________________
Your group will present a skit to teach the class about your topic. The skit must contain at
least four important aspects you learned from your research. Skits should be three to five
minutes long and must be clearly presented so that the class can learn from them. Use various
members of social classes to act out the aspects of your topic that you want to portray. For
example, you might have a peasant using his crops to pay a lord for taxes. Your group will
need to write a one or two page script. Use simple costumes and props (things you can find in
the classroom or house).
As a group, follow these directions and checkmark each step as you finish:
____ Decide on the four most important aspects you wish to portray.
____ Decide what characters you will use and who will play them. Include all group
members in the skit.
____ Choose one group member to write ideas as the group says them.
____ Decide on a basic skit idea and write it in a paragraph for the teacher to approve.
____ Write the skit in script form and give it to your teacher to approve and make copies.
____ Assemble items for costumes and props.
____ Practice your skit with costumes, props and actions.
____ Practice your script at home so that others will be able to hear and understand you.
____ Present for the class. Help them take notes on their matrixes.
Scoring Rubric:
4 = excellent/extra detail

3 = good/meets expectations

2 = not very complete

1 = poor

______ Skit informed class of the four most important aspects of your topic.
______ Skit showed aspects of your topic through different characters.
______ Skit was clear and understandable.
______ Skit included simple costumes and props.
______ You participated and did your share of the work.

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Attachment F
Checklist for Effective Group Work
Name: ______________________ Group Topic: ________________________________
Make a checkmark if the
answer is Yes to each
question
I was a good listener to members
of my group.

Day
One

Day
Two

Day
Three

Day
Four

Presentation
Day

My group listened to me.

I gave good feedback to my


group members.
My group gave me good
feedback.
I worked with my group to meet
our daily goals.
I worked efficiently at my
assigned job.
I feel that I worked well today.

My group worked well together.

After your presentation, reflect on how your group performed. Write several sentences to tell
how you feel about your groups performance.

How do you feel about your participation in the group?

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