Discipline: Social Studies

Grade Level: 8th

Course: Ancient World History

©Literacy Design Collaborative. September 2011

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Alexander the Great: Was He or Wasn’t He a Great Military Leader?
  • Background to Share With Students
    • For centuries, historians have argued whether Alexander the Great was the greatest military leader in history. There are valid points on both sides of the argument, including his degree of influence on other notable generals.

  • Task/Text
    • Teaching Task

      From a historical perspective, how great was Alexander the Great as a military commander?  After reading a variety of informational and persuasive texts, write an essay that addresses the question and support your position with evidence from the texts. L2 Be sure to acknowledge competing views.  L3 Give examples from past or current events or issues to illustrate and clarify your position.

      Reading Texts

      See materials list.  Note: In order to streamline the process, it is important to provide students with a list of notable generals in history who are known to have been influenced by Alexander the Great’s military techniques and philosophies (e.g., Julius Caesar, Adolf Hitler, Napoleon Bonaparte, etc.). This is necessary because it would be difficult and time consuming for students to discover the influences of notable military leaders on their own.

  • Content Standards
    • Standards Source: Number: Content Standards:

      Pennsylvania Standards Aligned System


      Produce an organized product on an assigned historical topic that presents and reflects on a thesis statement and appropriate primary and secondary sources.


      Compare the role that groups and individuals have played in social, political, cultural, and economic development throughout world history.


      Illustrate how continuity and change have impacted world history.

      • Belief systems and religions
      • Commerce and industry
      • Technology
      • Politics and government
      • Physical and human geography
      • Social organizations

      Compare conflict and cooperation among groups and organizations that have impacted the history and development of the world.

  • Reading Standards for Argumentation
    • "Built-In" Reading Standards "When Appropriate" Reading Standards (applicable in black)
      • 1- Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
      • 2- Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
      • 4- Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.
      • 10- Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.
      • 3- Analyze how and why individuals, events, and ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.
      • 5- Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text (e.g., section, chapter, scene, or stanza) relate to each other and the whole.
      • 6- Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.
      • 7- Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse formats and media, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.
      • 8- Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, including the validity of the reasoning as well as the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence.
      • 9- Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.
  • Writing Standards for Argumentation
    • "Built-In" Writing Standards "When Appropriate" Writing Standards (applicable in black)
      • 1- Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
      • 4- Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
      • 5- Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.
      • 9- Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
      • 10- Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audience.
      • 2- Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
      • 3- Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well- structured event sequences.
      • 6- Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.
      • 7- Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
      • 8- Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.
  • Scoring Rubric
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