Teaching and Learning Activities


This unit is premised on the students having some understanding of the history of the Great Wall of China. Using this understanding, and the knowledge gained, they will complete an A-Z multimedia presentation. Throughout these activities students will work independently and cooperatively in groups, with regular opportunities for feedback from their peers and members of the group.
Students will be given the opportunity to increase their knowledge, skills and behaviours using multimedia tools (ICT). These skills could include:

  • creating an on line glossary or Wiki
  • creating a multimedia presentation
  • importing graphics
  • refining research skills.

Recommended books to read to the class:
  • The Great Wall of China, by Leonard Everett Fisher – a picture story version
  • The Great Wall, by Elizabeth Mann – a longer story version
  • Dragonkeeper, by Carole Wilkinson – a good novel for serial reading, set during the Han dynasty. (see Unit resources, Appendix 1).

All completed activity sheets, should be inserted into students’ Learning Journals. This unit culminates with students completing an A-Z multimedia presentation that will detail aspects of the history of the Great Wall of China.


Research task and presentation

Using a variety of primary and secondary sources (see Unit resources, Appendix 8) students will research how and why the Great Wall was constructed, as well as daily life, customs, and traditions of the dynasties that created it. Each group will then select a theme for their alphabet, research and find graphics for each word, and create a multimedia presentation. Individual members will take responsibility for an equal share of the research and presentation.

Teaching and Learning Activities



Activity 1: Establishing prior knowledge; preparing to read the text

Activity 2: Reading the text

Activity 3: Gaining deeper understanding

Activity 4: Organising research

Activity 5: Researching




Activity 1: Establishing prior knowledge; preparing the text


Activity 1(a) Location activity
Students are given a blank map of the world and an atlas, and working in pairs locate:
  • China
  • neighbouring countries
  • capital city of China
  • cities of Xian and Shanghai
  • East China Sea
  • The Great

Groups do a ‘Think, pair, share’ activity.


Activity 1(b)


Have students look at the map of China at http://www.maps-of-china.net/province/Greatwallmap.htm and do a ‘Snapshot’ activity. In a Snapshot activity, students look ‘into’ a picture. They need to answer questions such as:

  • what do I see?
  • what would I hear?
  • what does this picture tell me about the Great Wall? w
  • hat does it tell me about how people lived at that time?

Groups do a ‘Think, pair, share’ activity.

Activity 1 (c)


Using information from the ‘snapshot’ activity, pairs of students create a ‘Word web’ (see Unit resources, Appendix 3) about the Great Wall. This can be added to as they do their research. ‘Inspirations’ or a ‘Sunshine wheel’ may be used instead of the word web. Students write ‘The Great Wall’ in the centre of the rectangle and any other facts in the surrounding cells. They may add more cells if required. Each group will report back to their peers and a class word web will be compiled with words inserted into suitable categories such as:
  • describing the Wall
  • daily life
  • geography of China
  • construction of the Great Wall.

Activity 2: reading the text


Read the text ‘Who built the Great Wall and why?”(see Unit resources, Appendix 4). Discuss the text and add new words associated with the Great Wall to the class word web. As a class, find more categories for the word web. Categories could include:
  • kingdoms
  • people in power
  • customs and traditions
  • soldiers
  • Terracotta Warriors
  • history
  • artefacts
  • The Nomads.
Each pair creates their on-line glossary or ‘Wiki’ (see Unit resources, Appendix 2) and enters the words from the class word web, using a dictionary to then add definitions. This online glossary is to be maintained throughout the unit.

Activity 3: Gaining deeper understanding


Recommended books to read to the class at this stage:
  • The Great Wall of China, by Leonard Everett Fisher – a picture story version
  • The Great Wall, by Elizabeth Mann – a longer story version
  • Dragonkeeper’ y Carole Wilkinson – A good novel for serial reading, set during the Han dynasty. (see Unit resources, Appendix 1).


Activity 4: Organising research


Students continue their KWLH chart, and include information acquired from the displays in the ‘K – What I know’ section.
At this stage the teacher will introduce the Research criteria and Rubric (see page 11). The teacher will explain that each pair of students will create their own multimedia presentation in the form of an A–Z alphabet of words relating to their research. Each page of the display must contain the letter, with the corresponding word and a short description giving its relevance to the Great Wall. A picture may be inserted. The list could have a specific focus, or be a random collection of words.
C is for China and A is for Asia (see Unit resources, Appendix 2) can be used as a model for compiling cultural alphabets. Pairs work cooperatively and write focus questions in their ‘W – What I want to know’ column (see Unit resources, Appendix 6).



Activity 5: Researching

Before commencing their research, students record their personal goals in their Learning Journals using an ‘Action planning organiser’ (see Unit resources, Appendix 7). Students need to include primary and secondary sources while conducting their research. Primary sources include:

  • maps
  • artefacts
  • documents
  • photographs
  • drawings
  • encyclopaedias
  • statistics
  • some Internet sources (these need to be verified – who created the website?)
  • personal knowledge – a person who has visited or climbed the Great Wall

Secondary sources include:
  • non-fiction books
  • stories
  • legends
  • some Internet sources.


All sources need to be entered onto the Bibliography (see Unit resources, Appendix 8). During the research process, students will confer with their partners and ensure that they have answered all key questions. The Rubric should be reviewed to focus their work. Teacher observes and records:
  • the ability for the group to cooperate
  • that students are ‘on task’
  • students ability to take different roles
  • Wiki and Bibliography are maintained
  • their multimedia presentation is being prepared in a logical sequence.


When the research is complete, each group decides on its selected form of multimedia presentation and makes a final decision on the focus. The teacher will conference each group to ascertain that its alphabet is concise and has a logical sequence. When the students have finished their work they will practice their presentation. Students will complete the ‘How’ section on their KWLH chart detailing what they have learnt, and reflect on the skills and behaviours they have developed.