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Lesson 6: What is History?

Grade: 8th
Class: World History
Topic: Defining history and the what separates prehistory, ancient history and the middle ages.
Standards: National Geography StandardsGeography for Life
Places and Regions:

(6) How culture and experience influence people's perceptions of places and regions

Human Systems:

(12) The processes, patterns, and functions of human settlement

Common Core Anchor Standards:
Knowledge of Language
Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to
make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or
1. Define history (personal definition) and apply it to the academic definition to create a
more comprehensive understanding of history as a concept and a s a measurement of
2. Analyze examples of prehistoric and ancient/medieval civilizations and evaluate if, based
off the academic definition, they are rightfully deemed prehistoric or not.
3. Redefine history to be more inclusive of peoples with strong oral traditions
representation all groups and cultures equally.
Focus Questions:
1. What is history and how is it defined?
2. Who does history represent or favor?
Engage Engage students begin with a question: What is history? When does it begin?
Why do we study it? Background knowledge and examples.

Explore Ask: What do you think of when you think of prehistoric humans?

Analyze the word: Prehistory morphologically (before history). How can

humans exit before history?

A discussion about language, civilization, religion, culture will ensue. Have

students make a T-Chart about what separates a prehistoric human from a
human in history.

Explain Give students the definition of History and Prehistoryfocus on a system of

writing. (See PowerPoint)

Students will earn about Cuneiform and Mesopotamia as the beginning of

Ancient history, separating prehistory from history.

Correct and Add to T-Chart with the PowerPoint Visual.

Analyze the timeline of Prehistory, Ancient History, and Middle Ages: What
events spate these eras/epochs? [Students will use new information about
Cuneiform and previous knowledge of the end of the Western Roman
Empire from the beginning of the Middle Ages unit to explain the timeline]

Play: History or Prehistory (See PowerPoint) Where students guess whether

the Egyptian civilization, Roman Empire, and Vikings are prehistory or
history. [Students learned about Viking at the beginning of the Middle Ages

Discuss how, actually, because the Viking were lacking a system of

writingeven though they lived in the Middle Ages, had a language,
religion, and culturethey are considered prehistory.

Elaborate Have students think of examples of people and cultures who did not have a
written language system until history had already began. [Thai and Korean
as well as Hmong]

Do you think this is fair, to label people as prehistory even when they lived
in ancient, middle ages, and even modern or contemporary times before they
acquired a written language?
Who does history favor?

Rewrite the definition of history so it includes EVERYBODY.

Evaluate Exit Ticket: Why is history important to study? How do we use it?