Lesson Plan - Ancient Greece and Sparta

Kelly Schneider
EDU 615 / 03.31.11
Lesson: A Tale of Two Cities (Athens and Sparta in Ancient Greece)
Class: 6th Grade Social Studies
1. Students will demonstrate knowledge of ancient Greek civilization, including art, politics, and
2. Students will demonstrate the ability to obtain geographic information from a variety of print and
electronic sources.
Time: 3 45-minute class periods
Opening Activity: Pre-Assessment Pop-Quiz (15 minutes)
Write or display the following true/false statements on the board:
The ancient Greeks owned slaves.
Women vote in democratic Athens.
Most city-states were actually cities.
The ancient Greeks have nobles and aristocrats.
The secret of ancient Greece's success its rich, fertile land.
The ancient Greeks valued wealth above all else.
Ask students to number a piece of paper from 1 to 6 and answer true/false to each question. These will
not be collected or graded, but results will be shared in class.
Give students up to 5 minutes to answer the questions.
Discussion: Have students raise hands for true or false, then discuss.
True - Even democratic Athens had no compunction about owning slaves.
False – It could be argued that women had more power over their lives in Sparta.
False - The vast majority were only small towns of a few hundred citizens.
True - Even in democratic Athens the aristocrats remained a force to be reckoned with.
False - The mountainous terrain was only suitable for a few select crops like olives.
False - Fame and honor meant much more to the average Greek citizen than wealth.
Video: View the following portions of “The Greeks: Crucible of Civilization” (PBS). (25 minutes)
Starts: 10.44 “But there was one city-state which had military power...”
Ends: 12.36 “For the rest of the Greeks the Spartans were a threat always on the horizon.”
Athens (under Cleisthenes):
Starts: 40.51 “In this new dawn...”
Ends: 45.24 “A new generation of Athenians would take up his legacy.”
Athens (under Pericles):
Starts: 1.20.10 “The Athenians were now looking for a leader...”
Ends: 1.34.11 “...echo around the world.”
Research: Worksheet. (45 minutes, split over two class periods)
Have students individually complete the attached worksheet, Comparing Athens and Sparta, utilizing
classroom resources. Depending on the comprehension level of the students, you may wish to provide
them with the list of resources provided here:
Variation: Helping Permitted. In groups of 3, students individually complete the worksheet. They may ask
each other for help, but each student will turn in his/her own work.
Variation: Helping Required. In groups of 3, each student completes the worksheet. Group members should
assist each other, ensuring that everyone has the same answers. At random, one student’s worksheet will be
chosen to represent the group for a grade.
Variation: Peer Tutoring. Pair struggling students with an “expert” students. Both students will individually
complete the worksheet and turn in for grading. It is expected that the “expert” student will help the
struggling student research the questions as needed.
Variation: Completely Cooperative (part 1 – 30 minutes). In groups of 4, have students complete the
worksheet. One worksheet will be turned in per group. Assign roles: Recorder, time keeper, supplier,
coach/encourager. All group members should participate in the research; groups may choose to divide up the
Synthesis: Class discussion. (30 minutes)
As a class, discuss the following questions:
After researching Athens and Sparta, which city-state would you prefer to live in? Why?
Your social role and class might influence your decision. Would you change your mind if you were a
young teenage girl of the citizen class? A slave? A boy of the citizen class? A soldier? A wealthy
member of the citizen class? Give your reasoning for choosing that city.
(Make a list of these roles, and any others students suggest, on the board for the closing activity.)
Variation: Cooperative Grouping. In groups of 3, assign students social roles (above) at random. Assuming the
identity of the assigned role, have students write a paragraph stating which city-state they would choose to
live in and why. After they have written down their thoughts, students should share their decisions within
their groups. Each group should then create an image that represents their choices and the reasoning. Have
groups share their images with the whole class, and each individual will turn in the paragraph they wrote.
Supplies needed: paper, markers or colored pencils. Select one person in each group to gather
materials and put them away at the end of the task.
Variation: Completely Cooperative (part 2 – 45 minutes). In their groups, students will create a table
comparing and contrasting life in Athens and Sparta for four different types of people. Provide the following
rubric (display on board), and give each group a single grade for the completed poster, which should be turned
in before the closing activity.
Structure: Table is easy to read and understand.
Information does not require explanation.
Content: Four different roles are selected. City choice
and justification is provided for each role for both Athens
and Sparta.
Analysis: Rationale provided is based on research done in
Teamwork: Students will grade group members on their
contribution during the closing activity, and these results
will be added to the total score.
Total (30 points possible):
5 points
16 points
5 points
4 points
Supplies needed: poster board or large paper, markers.
Closing Activity: Journal writing (in-class or homework) or exit ticket. (10 minutes)
Have students select one of the roles discussed and write a paragraph or two about their choice of city
to live in. Students should include several reasons for their choice.
Have students compare and contrast Athens or Sparta to the Twin Cities (or other US city). Which
would they prefer to live in? Why? Students should include positive and negative aspects of both the
ancient Greek city chosen and the present-day US city.
Variation: Completely Cooperative (part 3 – 10 minutes). This portion of the group activity is completed as
individuals. Have each student grade each of his/her group members on their participation and input (scale of
1-5, 5 being excellent) and write one sentence for each explaining why they gave that score or that person’s
biggest contribution. After grading their group members, have students complete the journal activity in-class
and turn-in before leaving.
Resources Used: Portions of this lesson were taken from PBS Teachers:
Comparing Athens and Sparta
Locate Sparta and Athens on the map above. Place a marker at each and label.
Using your textbook and classroom resources, fill out the chart below.
Type of Government
Were citizens part of the upper class?
What were foreigners allowed to do?
Was slavery allowed?
Who were their allies?
What part of their military was
What did they value as a society?
What freedoms did women have?
What was education focused on?
Who received education?
What are their lasting achievements?
Using your textbook, classroom materials, and answers above, answer the following questions. Use complete
1. Which city had the largest population, Athens or Sparta?
2. Which city was the leader of the Delian League?
3. Which city was the leader of the Peloponnesian League?
4. Which city gave the most freedom to women?
5. Which city valued choral dance and music?
6. Which city valued education?
7. What is the legacy of Athens (achievements, lasting effects on the world)?
8. What is the legacy of Sparta (achievements, lasting effects on the world)?