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Differentiated Tea Party: Important Groups in Feudal Japan

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Keywords: Japanese People, Shintoism, Buddhism, Prince Shotoku, Shinto Kami
Subject(s): Social Studies, Reading, Writing, Social Skills, History
Grades 7 through 12
School: James Monroe Middle School, Eugene, OR
Planned By: Linda Smart
Original Author: Linda Smart, Eugene
A Differentiated Tea Party Lesson using Sheltered Instruction: Important Groups in Feudal Japan.
This lesson fits into a Feudal Japan unit. This lesson is differentiated as to allow the entire class to participate using their current linguistic ability. The students whose skills are remedial or have English difficulties will be given the option of being Shinto Priests or Japanese people. The students working at grade level will be given the role of the Korean Buddhist monks or Prince Shotoku. The more advanced students will be given a role that has been abstracted and personified—Shinto Kamis.

Grades: 7 to 12
Standards: SS.08.HS.05.04: understand the development of the empires and kingdoms of sub-Saharan Africa, Imperial China, and feudal Japan.
Content Objectives
• SWBAT show their understanding of their respective role by successfully retelling the main points in their role to their immediate group members, and writing to the class on the board.
• SWBAT to recreate their roles argument as they conduct the Tea Party and communicate it with their peers.

Language Objectives
• SWBAT write their answers in a complete sentence
• SWBAT confirm their answers to text questions with their fellow group members.
Lesson Materials
• Copies for the following roles to be handed out to the students: Shinto Priests, Japanese People; Korean Buddhist Monks; Prince Shotoku; Shinto Kamis. This worksheet also contains the questions specific to their assigned role.
• Power Point slides with a corresponding image that represents the roles in this lesson: Shinto Priests, Japanese People; Korean Buddhist Monks; Prince Shotoku; and Shinto Kamis.
• Power point slide that illustrate how complete sentences are made.
• The teacher will package five different paper bags of items that will serve as manipulatives for each group. The Shinto Priests’ bag will contain a few sticks of incense. The Japanese People will have white rice in the bag. Korean Buddhist Monks will have miniature prayer wheels. Prince Shotoku will have paper crowns inside. The Shinto Kamis will have various natural objects: rocks, plant clippings, and a small container of water.
• On index cards write the name of the various groups so that students know which group they will be in.
• Write the days objectives on the board prior to the class starting the lesson.

1. As the students are finding their seats begin handing out pieces of paper to each students which tells them the name of the group that they will be in. There should only be three students to a group. Once you have done so welcome the class into the fun and fabulous world of Social Studies!
2. Review the objectives written on the board and tell the class what they are going to learn in this lesson:
Today we are going to learn about the various groups of people that made up Feudal Japan. These groups had different views from each other. We are going to learn what these different groups wanted. We are going to be able to retell to others what your role was about, and retell what their specific role wants. You are also going to be able to write your answers in complete sentences and make sure that your answers are correct by talking with your peers.
3. Display on the screen the power point pictures representing the different roles in the class. For each of the pictures displayed say something about each group [supplementary materials.]
• Shinto Priests are the leaders of the Shinto religion. The Shinto religion believes that there are spirits in nature. Rocks, rivers, and trees have spirits. These spirits need to be worshipped.
• Japanese People are those that live in Japan. They spend most of their time working on their farms. They grow a lot of rice.
• Korean Buddhist Monks live in Korea and want to come to Japan. They want to tell the Japanese People about Buddhism.
• Prince Shotoku was a powerful prince of Japan. He wanted to bring Buddhism and Confucianism into Japan.
• Shinto Kamis are the spirits of Japan. They think that Shintoism and Buddhism can both be religions in Japan.
4. Have the students break into their learning groups. Once they are in their groups hand out the paper bags that contain the manipulatives for the respective groups. Once this is done give the class directions [supplementary materials]:
In your bags are items that represent who each of you are for this lesson. With your group members think of the things that these items remind you of concerning your group’s role. Take a few minutes to talk about what you know about Japan.
As this is happening go around the room and see how the groups are doing. Offer any assistance that you can to help keep the dialogue going between the students. Write on the board the five groups. The students are going to list what they know here.
5. Have the students write on the board the things they know about Feudal Japan here [link to past learning; interaction; speaking skills.]
I want each group to write the things that the groups have talked about up on the board. There should only be five students at the board at a time. There are no penalties for things that are wrong. Share with the class what you already know about your role.
6. Have the students come up to the board and record what their groups have come up with. At this point it is important to model to the class how to form a complete sentence. Using your power point slide display the sample sentence [modeling.]
On your role sheet you will see that I am asking you to answer the questions using a complete sentence! I want to show you how this is done. Look at this question: What color is the apple? What color is the apple class? They respond “red.” Now that we know the answer we need to write it in a complete sentence! The sentence should look like this: “The apple is red.” This is a complete sentence because we are talking about the apple and it is at the beginning of the sentence.
For comprehension sake do a few more examples of complete sentence formation on the white board.
7. Have the students return to their groups. Hand out the role sheets to the group [reading and writing skills.]
Each of you needs to read your roles, and answer the questions that are on the work sheet. Be careful as you read your role so that you can answer the questions correctly. I will be walking around the room if you need help.
8. Have the groups compare their answers with the other members in their groups [speaking skill.]
It is important that all the members of the groups have the same answers. If you have different answers you need to understand why the answer is correct. Talk as much as you can to understand these answers.
Review Assessment
9. Hand out a different color marker for each group. Have each member of their respective group add something about their group’s role on the board. They should record this information under the information that was previously put on the board.
You have all learned something new about Japan and the people that were in Japan. I want you to share what you have learned today on the board. Each member of the group needs to write one thing that they have learned today about their role. Remember only one group member should be at the board at one time.
10. Ask the groups to think of the most important things about their role, and to place a star next to those points on the board.
I want you to talk with your group members and decided what are the most important things about your role. When you have decided on two, get up and draw a star on the board. Only on group member should be at the board at a time.

11. Thank the class for a wonderful lesson, and collect the day’s activity worksheet before they leave. Do this to ascertain how successful the class was with this activity.

12. On the following day continue this lesson with the Tea Party. This is the chance for the students to interact with other members of the class that have different roles than they do. The point of the Tea Party is for the entire class to gain an awareness of the other roles. It is important that the students first understand the content in their roles.
13. Have the students get back into the groups that they were in the previous day.
14. Hand back the role sheets to the students. Take a few minutes for the students to review what their role is. While they are reviewing hand out the Tea Party worksheet.
15. Tell the class how a Tea Party works. Model how the students are supposed to greet one another during this activity. Ask for a volunteer from the class.
• Hi, I am a Korean Buddhist Monk. Who do you represent? Tell me some things about yourself.
16. Start the Tea Party. It is important for the teacher to roam around the room making sure that the students are participating in the way that they need to. If a student gets stuck, help them along, by taking on one of the roles and showing them how to finish the activity.

1.read the role below, and make sure you understand it.
2. Answer the following questions below. Make sure that your answers are in complete sentences.

Shinto Priests
We serve the religion of Japan. What was wonderful about Shinto is that it is our religion. There is no other country in the world that has our religion. Shinto worships the spirits that are in Japan. These spirits are our own: the plants, trees, volcanoes, the gods, and emperors. Shinto is special because it is Japan. There has been talk about these Buddhists coming to our country and wanting to teach their religion. We should have no part in this. Japan should not let them stay and teach their Buddhism. We have our religion, which is especially suited for Japan. Do these Buddhists see us coming to their country trying to teach “the way of the gods?” No, they do not! Our religion has no place in another country. Our religion is for us, and nobody else’s! Their religion has no place in a country that it did not start. They need to go home, for the spirits, whom we worship, will not take kindly to another religion in their home!

Comprehension questions
1. Define the word “especially.”

2. What does this sentence mean: “Our religion is for us, and nobody else’s!”?

3. In one to three sentences write the argument of the role above in your own words.

1. read the role below, and make sure you understand it.
2. Answer the following questions below. Make sure that your answers are in complete sentences.

Japanese People
We have heard about the Buddhist missionaries coming to Japan and talking with our esteemed regent, Prince Shotoku. From what we understand, why would we want missionaries coming to this land talking abut their religion? Don’t we have our own religion? What really bothers us is that how can we take part in this religion anyway. We do not know how to read. Besides, Japan, doesn’t have a way to write down our language. If we can’t write down our own language, how are we going to understand their religion which is written in fancy scrolls? The other problem is that Buddhism requires quite a bit of studying. How are we going to be able to study when we cannot read their language? The missionaries talk about enlightenment, which sounds good and all, but meditation requires too much time. We have jobs to do! We have our rice to farm, animals to tend, and our own religious services. The Buddhists need to go home.

Comprehension Questions

1. Define these two words: missionaries and enlightenment.

2. What is it about reading that poses problems for the Japanese people?

3. What are the two main arguments that the Japanese People have for not letting the Buddhist missionaries into Japan?


1.read the role below, and make sure you understand it.
2. Answer the following questions below. Make sure that your answers are in complete sentences.

Korean Buddhist Monks
We are just so excited that we are Buddhists! We simply want to tell as many people about it as possible. Some would think that traveling one hundred and twenty miles is too far to go to tell another country about Buddhism, but we think differently. We have come to understand that life is suffering just as the Buddha said. The great thing is that there is a way to escape this life of suffering and it is through the 8-Fold Path. We have heard some talk that Japan’s Shinto Priests don’t want to have us here, but we don’t understand what the problem is. Buddhism is not a religion. Buddhism is a philosophy. And, as a philosophy, it requires time to think and meditate on the 8-Fold Path. We have no desire to supplant the Shinto religion. We are completely different than Shintoism. We respect their religion. The Japanese should continue worshipping their spirits, they just need to learn how to be free from desire and attain enlightenment! We have traveled this long way to help the Japanese people. We don’t want to cause problems, and there won’t be if they understand what Buddhism is all about.

Comprehension Questions

1. Define the two words philosophy and supplant

2. How is Buddhism “completely different than Shintoism?”

3. Restate the argument above in your own words, using one to three sentences.

1. read the role below, and make sure you understand it.
2. Answer the following questions below. Make sure that your answers are in complete sentences.

Prince Shotoku
I have sent some trusted associates to Korea and China. I have learned a great many things about these other countries. The most astonishing aspect of what I have learned is that Japan is not as advanced as I thought that it was. China has a complicated and efficient form of government. China does not suffer from the problems that my country is experiencing: the seemingly endless fighting amongst clans; the unorganized fashion that the government operates. The biggest thing that we lack, and what they have is that they are able to communicate with writing. Japan has much to learn from these other countries. We need to open up our borders and our minds to let others into our country. We need to learn from the Chinese especially. They can give us so many things: writing, Confucianism, and Buddhism. These three will allow us to become better than we are. We are a great people, and we deserve to be the best that we can be. We need to look past our prejudices, and embrace what is different from us! I need the country’s support. There has been too much talk about the negatives about Buddhism and things foreign.

Comprehension Questions

1. Define the words: associates, efficient, especially, and Confuscianism

2. What specific element will Confuscianism bring to Japan?

3. Was Prince Shotoku xenophobic? Why?

4. Restate the argument above in two to four sentences.


1. read the role below, and make sure you understand it.
2. Answer the following questions below. Make sure that your answers are in complete sentences.

Shinto Kamis

We are spirits that represent different parts of the archipelago called Japan. We are in the trees, rocks, water, ancestors, and emperors. We are everywhere here in Japan and we deserve to be worshipped because we are the gods. Shinto is the religion that worships us, and it is aptly called the “way of the gods.” There has been much talk about Buddhism lately. We think that it is good that the people, our worshippers, have been very devoted to us. We appreciate the enthusiasm and reverence that our priests and people have toward us. However, we know some things about Buddhism that other do not know—we aren’t gods for nothing! Buddhism is often called a religion, but it really isn’t! Buddhism is not a theistic religion. Buddhism is a philosophy. This nation can be Buddhist and Shinto at the same time. People are getting confused: if Prince Shotoku embraces Buddhism, the country will not stop being Shinto. Let Buddhism be accepted in Japan. It can help the people in ways that we cannot help the people.

Comprehension Questions

1. Define the words “archipelago”, “reverence”, “theistic”, and “embraces.”

2. Why is Buddhism not considered a religion?

3. How can Japan be Shinto and Buddhist and not have problems, according to the Kamis?

4. How can Buddhism help Japan in ways that Shintoism cannot?

5. In your own words, restate the argument made my the Kamis in two to three sentences.

Tea Party Questions

1. Find somebody in the room that thinks that Japan is not as an advanced country as it should be. What is their name? What are some of the things this person is suggesting that will help Japan?

2. Find somebody in the room that thinks that religion is specific to the country that it came from? What is their name? What is the argument that they are using to justify their thoughts?

3. Find somebody in the room that thinks that even if Buddhism came to Japan they would not be able to relate to it anyway. What is their name? They have two main arguments for why they think this way—what are they, and why?

4. Find somebody in the room that thinks that the Japanese should continue worshipping their spirits, but still need to be enlightened. What is their name? Where are they from? Have they traveled far? What is their main argument?

5. Find somebody in the room that thinks Buddhism and Shintoism can be in the same country. What is their name? What is their main argument?

I did this two day lesson in my class and it went over really well. The students remarked that they had a wonderful time doing this. They particularly liked the projects that they were able to work on following this lesson. This lesson was part of the Feudal Japan unit.
Cross-Curriculum Ideas
If I would have had more time I would have liked to incorporate some Japanese literature around this time period: Tale of Genji; Haiku; etc..
A follow-up activity to this Tea Party is a differentiated project that the students get to choose the roles that they want to be with the type of project they would like to do. This is a variation on the RAFT idea that is popular in differentiated curricula. Have students film themselves in the role of their choice making a speech to another group of people. Students can make a power point presentation to another group showing them why or why not they are right of wrong. The possibilities are endless!
Materials: Projector Screens, Projectors, Whiteboards, ESL