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The Middle Ages Meet Modern Technology

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Keywords: Technology, English, Canterbury Tales
Subject(s): Information Skills, Social Skills, Technology, Geography, Writing, History, Reading, English/Language Arts
Grade 11
NETS-S Standard:
  • Communication and Collaboration
  • Research and Information Fluency
  • Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making
  • Digital Citizenship
  • Technology Operations and Concepts
View Full Text of Standards
School: Dunbar Vocational High School, Chicago, IL
Planned By: Nancy Sullivan
Original Author: Nancy Sullivan, Chicago
Students will use mobile devices to visit a series of learning stations. Each learning station will contain physical objects and a QR code that students will scan with the camera on the mobile device. The QR code will direct students to predetermined research sites and videos where they can gather background information. Students will be provided with questions to guide them through the learning stations. There will be 5 learning stations:

1. Weapons and technology of the Middle Ages.
Students will scan the QR codes which will lead them to two video clips from the History Channel. These videos will show students not only how the weapons were used but how adaptations were made to changing conditions. Students will also follow locations and common sites from the Crusades as mentioned during The General Prologue of THe Canterbury Tales.

2. Spices and Food
The station will be set up with dishes containing spices that were imported to Europe during the Middle Ages. Students will be able to smell, touch, see, and taste these spices. When students scan the QR codes associated with each spice, the most gather information of the origin and usage of each spice. Students will then map the country of origin for each spice creating a spice trail that early explorers may have followed.

3. Fashions
The station will be set up with physical samples of the fabrics used during the Middle Ages. They will be able to touch and see the fabrics. In addition, QR codes will lead students to web sites that will help them learn how clothing was a symbol of social status even in the MIddle Ages. Students will also have the opportunity to draw and color costumes of the time period.

4. Medicine and the Bubonic Plague
This station will be decorated with rats everywhere, even hanging from the ceiling. Students will scan QR codes to lead them to web sites describing the symptoms, treatment, and impact of the plague on European society. They will also learn about the medical practices of the time period. Finally, students will be given a short article which they will read and apply skills from their math classes to show how many people died as a result of this epidemic.

5. Housing and Living Conditions
This station will include a 3D model of a castle. Students will also scan QR codes to learn more about the construction and purpose of the castle to society.

Since we do not own an mobile devices at our school, students will be allowed to connect their cell phones to the wireless network at the school. Students who do not own SmartPhones will pair up with students who do own them.
Cross-Curriculum Ideas
This lesson plan is designed to be a cross curricular activity between history and English as well as the Vocational Shops of Culinary Arts, Construction, and Allied Health
After completing their own learning pilgrimage through the classroom, students will use this information as context for the reading of The Canterbury Tales.
Materials: Mobile Labs
Other Items: 10 Mobile Tablets, $250 each, total of $2500.00