Ancient Rome

Students explore the rise and fall of the ancient Roman Empire and Roman civilization, its various leaders, routines, and rituals, while practicing multiple informational reading strategies.

Unit Summary

In this unit students explore the rise and fall of the ancient Roman Empire. Over the course of the unit, students learn about different characteristics of the Roman Empire, what lead to the Empire’s growth and success, and what eventually lead to the Empire’s demise. Through learning about the daily routines, structures, and rituals of the Roman Empire, students will be challenged to draw conclusions about what the civilization valued and how those values compare to societal values today. This unit builds onto the 2nd grade nonfiction unit on ancient Greece, in which students began to think about how the daily routines, structures, and rituals of a civilization show what they value. This unit, in conjunction with the second grade unit on ancient Greece, will help students understand early influences in the world and the first republics.

The mentor texts for this unit, Ancient Rome and Pompeii: A Nonfiction Companion to Magic Tree House and Eye Wonder: Ancient Rome, allow students to practice multiple informational reading strategies in two very different text structures. In both texts, but predominately in Eye Wonder, students will practice using a multitude of text features and illustrations as a way of learning new information about a topic. Over the course of this unit, students will constantly be thinking about how the information from one text builds on and connects to the information in the other text. Then at the end of the unit, students will be asked to critically analyze the similarities and differences between the two texts.

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Unit Launch

Online learning modules that include short videos and readings to help teachers prepare to teach a unit.

 

Texts and Materials

Core Materials

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Assessment

This assessment accompanies Unit 1 and should be given on the suggested assessment day or after completing the unit.

Unit Prep

Essential Questions

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  • How did the city of Rome expand and grow? 
  • What was life like in the Roman Empire? What did the Romans value? 
  • What led to the decline and fall of the Roman Empire? 
  • What were some of the key contributions of Ancient Roman civilization? How have they influenced the present? 

Writing Focus Areas

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Sentence-Level Focus Areas

  • Expand sentences by adding details that tell when, where, and why
  • Use coordinating conjunctions "because," "but," and "so"
  • Edit for complete sentences

Over the course of the unit, students focus on the power of a single sentence. Students learn how to use the conjunctions "because," "but," and "so" to craft more complex sentences. They also use the prompts of when, where, and why to add more details to simple sentences. For students who are still struggling to write complete sentences, we recommend using our guide Sentence-Level Feedback and Support to provide individual and small-group feedback throughout the unit.

Informational Writing Focus Areas

  • Conduct short research projects to build knowledge
  • Take notes and sort evidence into categories
  • Introduce a topic and group related information together
  • Develop the topic with facts 

In this unit, students participate in their first guided research project. By research another aspect of Ancient Rome, students learn how to take notes, group evidence, introduce a topic, and develop the topic with facts. The informational writing done in this unit serves as a foundation for the writing students will do in later units. 

Related Teacher Tools:

Speaking and Listening Focus Areas

  • Prepare for discussion. Students learn how to prepare for academic discussions. 
  • Elaborate to support ideas. Students provide evidence or examples to justify and defend their point clearly.
  • Use vocabulary. Students use vocabulary that is specific to the subject and task to clarify and share their thoughts. 

In this unit students predominantly show understanding of the text through academic discourse. Through a range of one-on-one, group and teacher-led tasks students grapple with the deeper meanings of both core texts. Since this is the first unit of the year, students will learn how to follow rules for discussions and how to come prepared. This will be reinforced through oral language protocols referenced in the unit. 

Students at this point will also be in the beginning stages of articulating ideas and participating in conversations. As noted in our Guide to Academic Discourse (below), when students first participate in discussions the focus should be on helping students clarify and share their own thoughts. Later students will be able to engage with the thinking of others, but to do so they need to be able to clearly articulate their own ideas.

Vocabulary

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Below are all of the unit vocabulary words. Prior to teaching the unit, we recommend teachers decide which words to prioritize. We also recommend that teachers decide which affixes to prioritize. See our teacher tool Prepping Unit Vocabulary (below) for more guidance on which words to pick as priority words.

Text-based

citizen conquer convenience decline disciplined efficient eternal eventually exquisite foreigner found hurl leisure overthrew privileges prosperous quarrel renowned republic resent rights rule siege slaughter sturdy timeless tragic triumph victorious

Root/Affix

-ence -less -ous over-

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Vocabulary Package

Additional vocabulary tools that help reinforce and support student vocabulary development.

Content Knowledge and Connections

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Lesson Map

1

  • Ancient Rome and Pompeii pg. 13 – 18

    RI.3.2

    RI.3.3

    RI.3.5

Describe how the Roman Army shaped the future of the Roman Empire. 

2

  • Ancient Rome pg. 4 – 11

    RI.3.2

    RI.3.3

    RI.3.5

    RI.3.7

Explain how the author uses different text features and illustrations to describe how the Roman Empire was founded. 

3

Writing

    L.3.1.f

    L.3.1.i

Make sentences better and more informative by adding more details. 

4

  • Ancient Rome and Pompeii pg. 41 – 54

    RI.3.2

    RI.3.3

Explain why the Romans were always ready for war. 

5

  • Ancient Rome pg. 12 – 15

    RI.3.2

    RI.3.5

    RI.3.7

Explain how the text features and illustrations help build a deeper understanding of the Roman army. 

6Essential Task

Writing

  • Ancient Rome and Pompeii

  • Ancient Rome

    RI.3.3

    L.3.1

    L.3.1.h

Write multiple sentences using the conjunction because to explain how powerful and organized the Roman army was. 

7

  • “Roman Class Structure”

  • Ancient Rome and Pompeii pg. 19 – 23

    RI.3.2

    RI.3.5

Describe the three groups of people in ancient Rome and explain why they were important for the success of the civilization. 

8

  • Ancient Rome pg. 34 – 35

    RI.3.3

    RI.3.5

    RI.3.7

Describe what life was like for enslaved people in the Roman Empire. 

9

Writing

  • “Roman Class Structure”

  • Ancient Rome and Pompeii

  • Ancient Rome

    RI.3.3

    L.3.1

    L.3.1.h

    L.3.1.i

Write multiple sentences using the conjunctions but and so to explain why each role in society was important. 

10

  • Ancient Rome and Pompeii pg. 24 – 37

    RI.3.2

    RI.3.7

Describe what the chapter “The Eternal City” is mostly about and why the structures described were important in Ancient Rome. 

11

  • Ancient Rome pg. 24 – 27

    RI.3.2

    RI.3.5

Explain how the author uses different text features and illustrations to support the idea that gladiators and bath houses were an important part of Roman society.

12

  • Ancient Rome — 16–17, 20–21, 22–23

    RI.3.2

    RI.3.7

Explain what life was like in ancient Rome and what daily routines and structures show us about what ancient Romans valued.

13Essential Task

  • Ancient Rome — 28–29, 30–31, 32–33

    RI.3.2

    RI.3.7

Explain what life was like in ancient Rome and what daily routines and structures show us about what ancient Romans valued.

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Writing

  • Ancient Rome

    RI.3.3

    L.3.1.f

    L.3.1.h

    L.3.1.i

Write multiple sentences using the conjunctions "because," "but," and "so" to explain what life was like in Ancient Rome. 

15

  • Ancient Rome pg. 38 – 41

    RI.3.3

    RI.3.7

Explain the role that gods, worship, trade and transportation played in the Roman Empire. 

16

  • Ancient Rome and Pompeii pg. 55 – 67

    RI.3.2

    RI.3.3

Describe Hannibal, Julius Caesar, and Octavian, including what type of leaders they were and why. 

17

  • “The Fall of the Roman Empire”

    RI.3.3

Explain what caused the fall of the Roman Empire. 

18Essential Task

  • Ancient Rome and Pompeii pg. 103 – 104

  • Ancient Rome pg. 42 – 45

    RI.3.3

Explain the significance of the heading “The empire lives on."

19

  • Ancient Rome and Pompeii

    RI.3.9

Compare and contrast both unit texts by comparing and contrasting the most important key details presented in both texts.

20

Discussion

  • Ancient Rome and Pompeii

  • Ancient Rome

    SL.3.1

    SL.3.1.a

    SL.3.1.d

Discuss and debate unit-essential questions by stating a claim and using evidence from multiple texts to support and defend the claim.

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Assessment

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4 days

Informative Writing

    W.3.2

    W.3.2.a

    W.3.2.b

    W.3.7

    W.3.8

    L.3.2.f

Research another ancient Rome topic and create a brochure and visual representation to show what you learned.

Common Core Standards

Language Standards
  • L.3.1 — Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

  • L.3.1.f — Ensure subject-verb and pronoun-antecedent agreement.

  • L.3.1.h — Use coordinating and subordinating conjunctions.

  • L.3.1.i — Produce simple, compound, and complex sentences.

  • L.3.2 — Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.

  • L.3.2.f — Use spelling patterns and generalizations (e.g., word families, position-based spellings, syllable patterns, ending rules, meaningful word parts) in writing words.

Reading Standards for Informational Text
  • RI.3.2 — Determine the main idea of a text; recount the key details and explain how they support the main idea.

  • RI.3.3 — Describe the relationship between a series of historical events, scientific ideas or concepts, or steps in technical procedures in a text, using language that pertains to time, sequence, and cause/effect.

  • RI.3.5 — Use text features and search tools (e.g., key words, sidebars, hyperlinks) to locate information relevant to a given topic efficiently.

  • RI.3.7 — Use information gained from illustrations (e.g., maps, photographs) and the words in a text to demonstrate understanding of the text (e.g., where, when, why, and how key events occur).

  • RI.3.9 — Compare and contrast the most important points and key details presented in two texts on the same topic.

Speaking and Listening Standards
  • SL.3.1 — Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 3 topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.

  • SL.3.1.a — Come to discussions prepared, having read or studied required material; explicitly draw on that preparation and other information known about the topic to explore ideas under discussion.

  • SL.3.1.d — Explain their own ideas and understanding in light of the discussion.

Writing Standards
  • W.3.2 — Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

  • W.3.2.a — Introduce a topic and group related information together; include illustrations when useful to aiding comprehension.

  • W.3.2.b — Develop the topic with facts, definitions, and details.

  • W.3.7 — Conduct short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

  • W.3.8 — Recall information from experiences or gather information from print and digital sources; take brief notes on sources and sort evidence into provided categories.

Sprial Standards

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L.3.3.b

L.3.4

L.3.4.b

L.3.5

L.3.6

RF.3.3

RF.3.4

RI.3.1

RI.3.10

RI.3.4

RI.3.5

RI.3.7

SL.3.1

SL.3.1.b

SL.3.4

SL.3.5

SL.3.6

W.3.10

W.3.4

W.3.5

W.3.6