Theme: Middle Ages Title of Theme/Module

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Constructed Response Item

Theme: Middle Ages

Title of Theme/Module:

“If you build it, I will knock it down”

Stimulus Material: Great Castles of Europe videos by Discovery and Learning Channels, castle siege websites

Writer: Marybeth Fuller
District: Lafayette County C-1 School District

Region: West Central

Grade Range: Gifted Middle School

Subject Area: Gifted

Standards Assessed:

Performance (Process)

Goal: 1 Standard: 1

Goal: 1 Standard: 4

Goal: 3 Standard: 2

Knowledge (Content)

Content: SS Standard: 6

Content: CA Standard: 4

Content: SC Standard: 2

Learner Objective: Students will research castles of Europe and be introduced to terminology used to describe castle construction. Students will research castle siege weapons and correlate the changes in castle design with the advances in weapons design. Students will complete a graphic organizer and a written report detailing their findings.

Item: The student will view the videos Great Castles of Europe and Castle, research castles on selected sites on the Internet, and skim selected books about castles. The student will take notes about castle design and castle siege weaponry design, organizing those notes in the given graphic organizer. The student will then write an essay on the correlation of castle design to weapons design advancement. The student will use correct essay format, punctuation, spelling and grammar.

If You Build It, I will Knock It Down

Student Prompt

Castles were primarily structures of war and were built in strife ridden lands. Thus, it was almost inevitable that they would come under attack. Because castles were made with such massive defense fortifications, it was extremely hard to destroy them. Thus, the goal of a siege army was not to destroy a castle, but to penetrate it. However, this task was also extremely hard.

Through the years of the Middle Ages, an arms race occurred that rivals that of our current age. Every time someone built a strong castle, someone else would invent a way to knock it down or penetrate it. Every time a new weapon was invented, a stronger castle design was devised.
Your task for this project is to track and explain this arms race to someone who knows nothing about castles and siege warfare.
You will do this in several steps:

  1. Visit all the castle websites on Mrs. Fuller’s teacher page under the link “Castle websites for ‘If You Build It’” to enhance your knowledge of castle construction and castle warfare.

  1. Keep notes about siege weapons and defenses on the graphic organizer.

  1. Organize all your information into a coherent essay that discusses the development of castle defense and castle siege weaponry as they relate to each other. Be sure to include examples and details that show clearly the research you have done.

  1. Make corrections as needed and type the final draft.

Scoring Guide:






Visit all websites

Visited all websites and took notes from each

Visited all but one website and took notes from each

Visited half of the websites and took notes from each

Visited all or fewer websites but didn’t take notes

Take notes on graphic organizer

Notes are legible and logical

Notes are legible but not logical

Notes are logical but not legible

Notes are neither legible nor logical

Rough draft of essay- thoughts and ideas

Draft has evidence of thought and Mrs. Fuller checked and approved it

Draft has evidence of thought and Mrs. Fuller looked at it once

Draft is not thoughtful

Draft is a sloppy mess

Typed essay- conventions

Follows correct essay form with all conventions correct

Conventions correct but essay form is incorrect

Neither conventions nor essay form are correct

Essay is a sloppy mess

How to write an essay: Your thesis will come from paragraph 2 of your instructions above.

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