Teacher’s Notes: CLIL Lesson Plan

Unit Alexander the Great

Level Intermediate High School

                                                      Activate Prior Knowledge

Is anyone here good at puzzles? See the WEIRDEST thing happened last night. I was walking home from school when this random guy wrapped in a sheet came up to me. He was carrying this knotted thing. Now, being the curious person I am, I asked him what he was doing. He told me that anyone who could untie the knot would become ruler of the world. He had given up so he handed it over to me. I’ve been trying all night and I just can’t do it can you guys try? (*pass around knot*) I’ve tried soaking it in water, I’ve tried untying in under water, I have tried to find the ends, I have tried putting it on the heater to maybe loosen up the fibers, I’ve tried freezing it basically, everything I try hasn’t worked. (*knot should be passed around*)

It reminds me of that trick, (draw 9 dots on the board) connect the 9 dots using only 4 straight lines.

Does anyone know how to solve this?

The trick, is to think outside the box can you pass the knot back?

Connect the 9 dots on the board and cut the knot in half.

Alexander the Great was faced with the same problem that you had. He wanted to untie a knot that would not untie so he took his sword and cut it. That’s how Alexander faced most of his problems quickly and decisively.

Has anyone heard anything about Alexander the great? (Acknowledge every answer but only write relevant answers) if necessary prompt the students with an additional question

Why did the man who gave me the knot wear a sheet? When and where did Alexander live?

If the students still need prompting write up some numbers on the board. Have them guess how the numbers are related to Alexander.

0 (times he lost in battle)

32 (age of his death)

19 (age he was made king)

360BC (age of birth)

15 (number of cities he named after himself)]

              Methodology: Advanced Organizer- Ausubel Notes / Activating Prior Knowledge

Dave Ausubel is a Cognitive Education Psychologist. He believes that meaningful learning occurs when students attempt to relate new information to what they already know. One option is that the introductory material presented  is what will be taught but at a higher level of abstraction and generality.

Taking the myth of the Gordian knot and changing it to modern times was a type of Advanced Organizer. It relates what the student already knows (crazy men on the street and a nine dot puzzle) to a story in which the student is not familiar. This way the learning process is easier for the students.

The students are also given “hangers” to remind them that he is from the time of togas

(ancient Greece and Rome). As well the story of the Gordian knot comes up a few more times in the lesson and students will be able to go back to this hanger (especially those who physically held the knot) to hang the additional information.

Finally by creating disequilibrium (with the random seemingly unrelated numbers) students are forced to create an equilibrium by sorting out numbers into seemingly sensible orders. Even when students guess incorrectly they are still forced to reason and more likely to remember the real numbers significances.

Other methods to activate prior knowledge include telling an anecdote, posing a dilemma and it should be 3-5 minutes.


There’s more on Cognitive Skills and the main thinkers behind the theories below.

                            Word Bank : (CALPS) Content Obligatory Vocabulary (of)

Cognates are in parenthesis

Invasion (invasión), Invade(invadir), Empire(imperio), Conquer(conquistador), Ancient (anciano), legend(leyenda), mortal(mortal), battle(batalla),culture(cultura), persuade(persuadir), tyran(tirano)t, native(nativo), unusual(inusual), traitors(traidor), superiority(superioridad), javelin(jabalina), baron(barón), fortress(fortaleza), ecstasy(éxtasis), found(fundar), infantry (infantería), successor(sucesor),

bold, wondrous, thee, thyself mighty, wounds, excel  symbolize, fertility, unexpected,     prophecy, oracle,predicted, fulfilling  empire, immortal,  kingdom, utterly, treasure, amongst, chariot, yoke, just shy, border, defeat, suspect, enrage,murder, mass marriage, infatuated, crossroads, setback, betrayed, fierce, out maneuvered, ambush, pursued, kinsmen

For some of these there will be photos (yoke, chariot, crossroads etc), for others synonyms will be used (kinsmen=relatives, utterly=extremely) and some will be addressed by having students use context cues (such as with the phrase “just shy” or “out maneuvered”). (Also look at scaffolding).

                                         (CALPS)  Content Obligatory Grammar


When students make the timelines/comic books/or song they will be using mainly the simple past (as well as the cross examination at the end). Examples:He conquered the world, he died before he was 32).

                                              (BICS) Interpersonal Language


When summarizing (in their resumes or timelines/comic books/songs they will be using language which connect sentences together:

(What do you say to start a summary: Basically, In essence, etc

How can you show times: Originally he was a prince, later his father died. Then he became King. etc

What do you say to conclude a summary: In conclusion he is still remembered to this day. Finally, he died.  



To point out supporting material from the text: (this will also be used in the Mock trial)

Here the author says the horse was afraid of his shadow.

The story says that he died.


MOCK TRIAL words http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SoVXC7InQNw

(not the most exciting, but good reported speech examples)

(In your statement you say, “Each of us were aware” do you feel you understood this?

First restate what they said

They confirm or deny

Then bring up your new fact

Question: Earlier you said Alexander the Great was a tyrant because he killed monkeys. Is that true?

Answer: (Usually a yes or no) Yes.

Question: But isn’t it also true that these monkeys attacked him?

(also seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J9L4tbAhuwg “You said that it is unlikley they went that way”


By reviewing the clips before they are shown students are already introduced to the key vocabulary and in some cases students will be given the transcript directly. This way they have the support they need to understand the basic concepts.

For the vocabulary students will be hearing synonyms as well as cognates (see CALPS for more details) occasionally visual graphics will be used to scaffold the learning process..  There will also be graphic organizers available for students to help them as well.

For the Mock Trial students will be able to view sample cross examination the day before  (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYcYHDHEF64)

                                             Methodology: Scaffolding Notes

Scaffolding is a part of Jerome Bruner’s a research in cognitive psychology. It is essentially when the teacher assists a student so that they can more easily absorb the lesson. This is like providing students with a step ladder to allow them to more easily access a top shelf. Quite literally, as in with construction, a scaffold is basically a temporary framework support and access to meaning and taken away as needed when the child secures control of success with a task. Examples of this are using cognates, using visuals, signaling so that the student knows what to expect. The teacher can also use synonymous words following each other so students are able to realize they are the same (as an example, “Some feel that Alexander the Great was a cruel leader; they say he was a tyrant”). Many words also have cognates (seen in the list). Ausebel’s Organizers are also a type of scaffolding since they are also something which prepares students to properly access the information.

                                  Cognitive Skills: Higher Order Thinking Skills

This field of research believes that a person’s behaviour is influenced by the act of thinking and/or knowing.  It has followers such as Jean Piaget (who worked with the stages of intellectual and cognitive development) who believe that when disequilibrium is created and students have to create their own equilibrium from the chaos their intellectual level increases. This can be seen throughout my teacher’s notes. For example when I activate the schemata I give the students random numbers (disequilibrium) which they have to take and have them make sense. When the equilibrium is restored they should be at a higher level. As these students should be at least 12 many of have already entered the formal operations stage. That means they will be able to reason as well as start thinking logically and abstractly. As such I can give them more “thinking” work (such as having them decide if Alexander the Great was a hero or a tyrant).

Cognitive learning also covers Gestalt psychology which states that learning is the act of restructuring a situation or a problem and then seeing it in a new light. It also believes that students learn by trying to form a pattern. This is because people automatically learn by imposing order on a disorganized field (similar to Piaget’s theory on creating disequilibrium).

Lawrence Kohlberg is another example of a person in the Cognitive camp. He was a follower of Piaget and developed the 6 stages of moral thinking. This group of students should mainly be in the Conventional stage (made of stage 3 and 4). Stage 3 is when they believe people should meet the expectations of society. People should value life more than money and while rules and individuality are important the community as a whole should be taken more seriously.  Stage 4 is similar, but goes a bit broader. People should care about the society as a whole, and as such they can’t simply break laws because they feel their situation is special. As such when students are given dilemmas they are able to think on a wider level than just punishment and obedience and should be able to think through the dilemma (hence talking, writing and mentally working through the issue to better remember and understand the bigger theme).

For this unit two possible dilemmas could be:

Would you rather: attack now and win, but innocent people may die or attack later with a chance of losing but perhaps with less innocent deaths.

Would you rather: lose your chance to be king, or kill a baby. (ok...probably too black and white, but I kind of want to use it after the first to show how Alexander made decisions)

Another Cognitive thinker is Dave Ausubel, but that’s covered with activating the schemeta. (Also see Bloom’s Taxonomy)

                                   Methodology: Bloom’s Taxonomy Notes

Bloom’s Taxonomy is a method of dividing the cognitive thought process into categories. For example it is one thing to ask a student, “State one of Alexander the Great’s battles” this is a basic knowledge question this is a necessary base for any further learning.The next step up is comprehension, this is when students comprehend the topic in more depth. An example of this would be, “Describe Alexander the Great’s battle.”  After this is seeing whether or not students can apply this knowledge through Application phrases. These are things like, “What categories could you apply to this battle?” “Can you classify this battle?”.  If students have mastered this they can move on to Analysis. In this stage they are fully able to analyze the topic, “Compare and contract his first battle to his last battle.” Once students have a basic understanding of the analysis they can synthesize the information. They can take the information that they know and add their own prior knowledge to create something, such as “Imagine that Alexander’s army turned against him before India, how could he convince them they would win the battle”. The final level is that of evaluation, this is when students are able to judge the topic and make an informed judgement. This would be something like, “Argue the validity of Alexander the Great’s battle plans based on this battle.”

As an example, if I wanted students to be able to create their own biography succinctly summarizing the life of Alexander the Great. Students couldl be given the option of: Writing a timeline (primarily just knowledge based), Creating a Comic Book (More comprehension based as the student would need to interpret and summarize), or Creating a song (which would be synthesis as the students would be going further than just analyzing).

Educational Psychology:

Humanistic: The humanistic approach focuses on each students value as an individual being and their concerns as well as the personal meanings they attach to experiences. It focuses on assisting students to develop their individuality and assist them in reaching their full potential It includes thinkers such as Maslov, Carl Rogers, and Stephen Krashen as well as theories such as the Pygmalean and Galatea theories.

Maslov’s hieracrchy of human needs essentially states that you need to have your basic needs met before you can advance to higher level needs. For example, first you need to have your basic survival needs (food, drink etc), if this is met then you seek safety. If students don’t feel safe they can’t advance to the next level. If they don’t have self esteem they won’t be able to advance to levels of cognitive importance.

Carl Rogers believes that significant learning takes place when the subject matter is perceived by the student as having relevance for his own purposes (compared to cognitive where students should see a problem in a new light).

Stephen Krashen created the second language acquisation which is a five part theory. The first part is the I. Acquisition(learning naturally as a baby does)/Learning(the product of formal instruction). II. Monitor hypothesis: This is the result of learning grammar (through correction). III. “Natural Order” which means grammar tends to be learned in a certain way (this depends on the L1, age and method of learning. IV The Input hypothesis is where students should be at a slightly higher level than where they are (level+1)  this way they can gain knowledge V. The Affective hypothesis states that depending on “affective variables” also play a role. These are things like motivation, self-confidence, and anxiety (low anxiety is more effective learning than those with high anxiety).,

Finally in short the Pygmalean affect is also known as the self-fulfilling prophecy. Basically it states that if a teacher doesn’t expect much from a student then the student will meet those low expectations (rather than their high potential). In essence, we are only clever only when people expected us to be! This is in the humanistic realm because if we treat our students as if they are smart enough to do the work then they are more likely to be able to do it. (This is similar to Galatea except Galatea is when the student doesn’t expect anything from themself so in turn they don’t do anything).

Behavioristic: Behavioristic psychology is essentially that students behaviour is dictated by a response to certain stimuli. If they behave badly they will get punished and if they behave well they will get rewarded. You can see examples of this with Pavlov and the dog or skinner and the rats. Both of these proved that behaviour can be predicted by associating a behaviour with a reward (or consequence). Even after the reward/consequence is removed the desired behaviour should be consistent. As an example: If students have “class” points deducted every time they are talking  even after the teacher stops deducting points they should still stop talking in class. This is also when engineered classrooms fit into educational psychology. An engineered classroom  

Cognitive: See the cognitive section above and Advanced Organizers

Metacognitive: Metacognitive is thinking about thinking. This is also intertwined closely with culture and self esteem. When students believe in themselves (as in they have self esteem) they believe that how they think and study can affect how they learn. When they have the self esteem to grasp this power they are able to make decisions that help them learn more efficiently. One technique to make students have higher self esteem is Adventure ed. This is normally outdoors and while it isn’t dangerous it makes students feel as though they are pushing boundaries as well as building trust (through trusting others and earning their trust students trust themselves). Students learn how to prepare and plan for learning (such as through SQ3R, monitoring your own progresses,and as they are gain skills they become more confident in their self esteem. They gain situational awareness by identifying what they know, figuring out the learning goal, knowing the evaluation requirements,and looking over the task requirements. They can then plan their time and what’s needed. After this they can ask questions and test what they know.

Another big part of this is culture. By using contexts that are applicable to a local or global culture students can see that one person can make a difference.Once they realize this it can affect their motivation (as well as their self esteem). They can also learn the norms of their community and adapt society’s norms. One way to do this is through a webquest where students will research a big question (Is Alexander the Great a Hero or a villain) and then use their own opinions to supplement what they found.

Humanistic: In my lesson there is some differentiation (which allows students to cater to their own).

Behavioristic: Students are given a blank index card with 100 little squares (10 by 10) whenever a student is on task, and well behaved the teacher initials and stamps a square. When the student has 100 they can exchange it for either 1% point on a test or 1 “every-other” for homework (where a student only needs to complete half the homework). This may seem like a lot, but most students will accumulate between 5-10 per class.

Cognitive: The class touches on cognitive via giving students dilemmas, creating disequilibrium and acknowledging their stage (one where they can think more out of the box and not just recycle previously received information).

Metacognitive: At the end of every class students will be given 5-10 minutes to write in their journal about what they’ve learned today.

                                             Assessment (Formative / Summative)




Myths of Alexander: http://www.mythencyclopedia.com/Fi-Go/Gordian-Knot.html and http://www.alexander-the-great.co.uk/bucephalus.htm (Students are divided into two groups one reads the Gordian and one reads the Bucephalus with a partner they discuss if the story means that Alexander is Great or not so Great. Then in small groups they come up with two reasons they feel Alexander was Great and two he was not. Then all the students who read the same one get together and come up with the best 2 reasons. Finally students return to their original seats where they share their story and what they think.

(related videos: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6LF1FggDIco 

Profundity Questions

1. What happened to Alexander the Great and the knot/horse?

2. Why do people think Alexander the Great triumphed?

3. Do you think that he actually did triumph?

4. How else could he have untied the knot/ridden the horse?

5. Can you think of another story where a problem is solved in a similar way?

6. What lesson do you learn from Alexander the great here?

7. Has this story changed the way you think. How?

Name two positive traits about Alexander:



Name two negative traits about Alexander:



Was Alexander overall Great or not? Why?



(gentle Macedonian music in the background: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6eBzT-upQ8 let students know at the end of class that it was music from macedonia)



  • Fire from Heaven (1969) - Alexander the Great from the age of four up to his father's death - Mary Renault  (I would probably try to find excerpts that match the legends we read or other legends)


Alexander the Great Song: Iron Maiden http://www.metrolyrics.com/alexander-the-great-lyrics-iron-maiden.html




To be used in a class which focuses on summarizing. Pre-listening would be filling in a cloze where  numbers are taken out and they have to fill in the missing numbers.

Pre-listening: (find three good things he says about Alexander the great)

Listening: Alexander the Great Opening (Start at 4 minutes- about 5 minutes) focus on summarizing (link: http://www.wisevid.com/play?v=3Abf8txd8z-b) 

Post listening: post listening (worksheet to answer questions, and finally to summarize in a twitter like blurb 140 characters or less)


Webquest for was Alexander the Great good or bad?: http://www.rock-hill.k12.sc.us/teachers/RRMS/rhightower/treasure_hunt/Alexander_the_Great.htm For one assignment students can use the information and write the paragraphs as assigned or simply use the graphic organizers http://www.superteacherworksheets.com/graphic-organizers/robot-writing.pdf, http://www.superteacherworksheets.com/graphic-organizers/flower-writing-lines.pdf) 


Using the information from the webquest and the reading to make a resume for Alexander the Great




Date of Birth:

Place of Birth:

Current Citizenship:

Marital Status:


(Start with most recent experience. Include your reason for leaving. Include detailed description of responsibilities and special skills required.)




Special Skills:









Read more: http://www.brighthub.com/education/k-12/articles/62441.aspx?p=5#ixzz141ufmtFz


Differentiation is the concept that some classes can be more effective if students have assignments that are catered to their ability.  Carol Ann Tomlinson is a big pioneer in the area which basically states that students at the same level can have different levels of readiness, learning styles and their overall life experiences and that as a result students require different approaches  and speeds of teaching. It favours the humanistic approach that each student is a unique being rather than the standards based tests teaching being encouraged now. It is very student centered.

In this case by looking at Bloom’s Taxonomy (see related subject) we can see it is a very student centered concept

In this case you can see differentiation through Bloom’s taxonomy as well as the graphic organizers made available to students..


For the mock trial students will be given a rubric for self analysis, and analysis of the other team..


Part of Culture is helping students learn about the global culture (similar to ethics). As such the webquest (having the students decide if Alexander the Great is good or bad) helps students discover cultural norms as they discuss their opinions with their classmates.

They will also be learning about the culture of Ancient Greece throughout their readings.

                                                        Teacher Resources:

Watchmen Comic strip excerpt from Chapter 11 when Ozymandias follows the steps of Alexander the Great (I can’t find the text online but I found the motion text: http://blazinanime.com/watchmen-chapter-11/ from 6:30-10:00 essentially a brief summary of what he did). I think I’d use it for a TBL lesson towards the end. Having the students summarize Alexander’s life on their own words YouTube - Watchmen - Alexander of Macedonia (perhaps dividing it up into either a news report, a poem or a classic report)

Sample of possible writing assignment: http://prezi.com/1on3gcjt4k1y/alexander-the-great/ 

http://prezi.com/-wq1icfqgeyz/alexander-the-great/, http://prezi.com/cx1n6hlvs-mh/alexander-the-great/, http://prezi.com/1on3gcjt4k1y/alexander-the-great/ 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dz5d7m0_FfI (this song would need to be transcribed)

Pre-listening: Try to listen for the answers found at the end.

Listening: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ijwIScMWgJo 3:18- 3:54

Post-listening: Try to answer these questions: 4:23- Which of these cultures did Alexander spread throughout Asia.

Roman Greek Aztec

Which great Empire in Asia did Alexander conquer?

Persia, Thailand, Singapore

When Alexander the Great conquered Asia did he get as far as

Japan, India, China

Which of these countries in Africa did Alexander conquer?

Morroco, Somolia, Egypt

Which of these cities in Egypt did Alexander found and name for himself?

Alexanderville, Alextown or Alexandria

Which one of these philophers was Alexander the GReat's tutor?

Aristotle Plate or Yoda

The Destiny of the man who untied the Gordian knot would be to


Which of these rivers in India did Alexander saile down?

Ghanges, Indus, Mikong


                                                         Student Resources: