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Two Twelfth-Century Couples: Heloise and Abelard of France and Li Qingzhao and Zhao Mingcheng of China

Niki LaMontagne

Contents of Curriculum Unit 07.02.05:

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Born roughly eighteen years and thousands of miles apart two women encounter the same thing, love. It is neither age nor location that differentiates these two people, but their perspective on relationships. Heloise (1100/1101-1163/1164) and Li Qingzhao (1804?-1151?) are two women born into societies that are rapidly transforming during the twelfth century. Li Qingzhao uses poetry and Heloise letters to reflect their feelings. Their husbands play an integral role in these women's lives. The purpose of the unit will be to assist ninth grade world history students in synthesizing and evaluating information about European and Chinese culture, and the role of women in these cultures using the historical characters Heloise, Li Qingzhao and their famed lovers.

As a first year teacher in New Haven, CT I have encountered many challenges. Some people would consider my background a challenge. I am the product of a middle-class upbringing in a two-parent home in rural Vermont. It was not until I was eighteen, when I went away to college, did I encounter anyone unlike myself. At 21, I began to fully immerse myself in the New Haven Public School system and interact with people in a multicultural environment. The lack of diversity in my education, coupled with the multitude of ethnicities amongst my students has compelled me to create a unit that garners students' attention for cultures unlike their own, yet assist the students in creating the ability to make a personal connection to the new cultures.

The demographics of Hill Regional Career High School in New Haven, CT, where I teach ninth grade World Civilizations, is heterogeneously composed of student's ethnicities and academic abilities. Career High School is a magnet school that attracts students from both urban and suburban settings. According to the Strategic School Profile, Career High's student body is 53.2% Black, 25.1% Hispanic, and 17.5% White, and 4.2% Asian. The students in my two World Civilization classes reflect the school's demographics. Coincidentally, my student's academic abilities are just as diverse as their ethnicities.

My World Civilization students struggle academically in a few specific areas. My students have difficulty reading for information. Too often, my students will read anything from a few paragraphs to a few pages and find it difficult to relay verbally and/or in writing the contents of their reading. In my classroom the students have been presented with readings from their textbook and primary source documents such as poems and short stories. Frequently, I will have to rephrase their readings, offer synonyms for certain vocabulary words, and draw connections to past lessons and present day situations. I believe the group and individual reading of the letters, as well as the letter writing using the "voice" of the historical characters, as well their own will help improve the students' comprehension of the material.

This unit will help my students develop the ability to focus on a variety of tasks for an 82-minute block schedule. The long periods pose a hurdle for many thirteen and fourteen year old students who have not encountered this form of scheduling in their middle schools. The longer class periods allow students to delve into great depth with the unit material, but the unit must compose the classroom activities in a manner where the students will transition between whole group, small group, and individual instruction in order to maintain maximum attention from the students. The unit can also be applicable to schools with shorter class periods by dividing the discussion and activity materials into smaller amounts.

In my unit I intend to address the issues of engaging students in a meaningful, interesting manner that strengthens their comprehension skills and heightens their appreciation for cultures unlike their own. The focus of this unit is on the investigation of the role of two women in their relationships through the use of narratives. Too often history texts give a few paragraphs to the role of women, while chapter upon chapter focus on the triumphs of men. One reason why women may be relegated to a minority position in textbooks is the absence of knowledge about particular women in certain time periods. That is why, with this unit, the students will analyze the material found on these women. As historians and students, they may not know everything about Heloise and Li Qingzhao, but the students will, through the planned activities be able to synthesize and evaluate the given material.

The two women, Heloise of Abelard and Li Qingzhao, will be the focus for the unit, as well as their husbands, Peter Abelard (1079-1142) and Zhao Mingcheng (1081-1129). The women's backgrounds will offer the students a Western and non-Western approach to the cultures of these women. The memoir and poems of Li Qingzhao, along with Heloise's love letters will provide the students with a unique perspective on the political, social, and economic situations these women were immersed in and the nature of their personal relationships with their husbands.

Incorporating the women's poems and letters, as resources, will allow students to make a personal connection to the women and their husbands who lived hundreds of years ago in cultures unlike their own. I hope to assist the students in better understanding these historical couples through the classroom activities of letter, memoir, and poem analysis. In the end, one goal I hope the students' achieve is making a personal connection to these women's lives and culture. The goal will be accomplished through the students use of comparing and contrasting the women's' lives to each other and themselves. The students will use class and small group discussions, graphic organizers, and letter writing in the "voices" of the historical figures. The letter writing will help students better understand the perspectives of each women, thus understanding the culture in which the women and students live as well as foster the student's relationships in their own personal lives.

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Relationships are an integral part of high school. Working in a large magnet high school, whose student body is populated by 20 surrounding school districts I have witnessed the creation and demise of many student relationships. In history, there too have been many relationships built and destroyed.

The purpose of this unit is to take advantage of the historical figures Heloise and Peter Abelard, as well as Li Qingzhao and her husband Zhao Mingcheng to illustrate the variance of relationships amongst historical figures. Through the activities of the unit, students will critically examine the relationships presented in the literature of these figures in order to create a cross-cultural identification with the historical figures, as well as making a connection to the types of relationships that exist in the students' lives.

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Students will be able to. . .

1. Analyze and evaluate information and ideas from various primary resources.
2. Compare the relationships between the authors and recipients.
3. Interpreting the importance/influence of the time period.
4. Propose theories about the roles of men and women.
5. Create connections between the background knowledge and the primary resources.
6. Interpret personal relationships and establish connections between their lives and the authors.
7. Develop letter-writing skills independently.

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Acquiring Background Knowledge

The purpose behind this strategy is to assist students in connecting and better understanding the time period of historical documents. I believe my students need to improve in better understanding the historical background of the historical topics and people discussed in class. If the student's improve their comprehension of the historical background they will be able to analyze the primary sources used in the activities. Throughout this section of the unit, students will be exposed to various images and explanations about the time period through the use of Power Point technology and a graphic organizer titled "What's going on in this era".

The graphic organizer will assist the students in separate their assumptions about the time period and culture with the facts learned throughout the lesson. The use of the Power Point program will aid students in recording and organizing information. The Power Point program will also offer students visual images of the two cultures. The Power Point creates a clear picture of the eras in order for students to answer knowledge and comprehension questions based upon Bloom's Taxonomy.

Finally, students will be required to analyze the images and information for better participation in the classroom discussions. The use of the visual images will paint a picture of the historical figures and the times, in which they lived, thus giving the student's an improved sense of the examined cultures. Once the students have obtained the appropriate background knowledge they will be able to analyze the primary source documents.

Examining Primary Resources

The students will read seven different primary documents, four from Heloise's letters to Peter Abelard, and Li Qingzhao's memoir and a selection of her poems. In order for students to understand what is expected, they will engage in a whole group instruction discussing various aspects of the letter/poem. To best understand the main ideas contained within the letters/poems, students will work within small groups to answer questions pertaining to the primary sources. The questions will help the students organize their thoughts on the sources. Rather than just reading the sources and understanding the material at a superficial level, the questions will also provide students with an opportunity to understand the historical people and culture at a deeper level.

A Selection of Readings for the Students:

1 "Hou Hsu" ~ Li Qingzhao
2 "Shengshengman: Yin Dirge for Fairy Flute" ~ Li Qingzhao
3 "Rumengling: Curiosity" ~ Li Qingzhao
4 "A Fisherman's Tale" ~ Li Qingzhao
5 "Contemplating a Journey" ~ Li Qingzhao
6 "Double Nine" ~ Li Qingzhao
7 "Wuling Spring" ~ Li Qingzhao
8 "Historia Calamitatum" ~ Peter Abelard
9 "Letter 1 Heloise to Abelard" ~ Heloise (see student source # 13)
10 "Letter 2 Peter Abelard to Heloise" ~ Peter Abelard (see student source # 13)
11 "Letter 3 Heloise to Peter Abelard" ~ Heloise (see student source #13)
12 "Letter 4 Peter Abelard to Heloise" ~ Peter Abelard (see student source #13)
Students will synthesize and evaluate the letter/poems in order to present and defend opinions about the information when asked to regroup to discuss. Various questions may include:

1 Based upon your reading, what is your opinion of the author?
2 What would you cite to defend the actions of the authors?
3 What choice would you have made if you were in the authors' position?
4 What judgment would you make about the actions of the authors?
5 Based on what you know, how would you explain the actions of the author based on society?
6 How would you adapt Li Qingzhao's views on marriage to create a different perspective for Heloise?
7 Can you formulate a theory for the authors' view on marriage?
8 Can you think of an original way for the authors to write during present day?

To assist students in organizing information, they will use a teacher created graphic organizer. The graphic organizer will ask them to record direct quotations, the questions in which the quotation answers and their explanation as to how this quote supports the answer.

I believe that when students understand the primary source they will obtain greater comprehension and appreciation for the historical figures and the time periods in which these people lived.

Connecting History to Students' Lives

The students may assume that because the historical people reside in a different time period and place then themselves, the students will not have anything in common with the historical figures. I believe that after closely examining the primary source documents the students will acknowledge, in their own letters and class discussions, the authors were in emotional situations that were similar to the emotions felt by many teenage students in present-day America.

Connecting the content to my students' lives is the best way to enable that the students' appreciate and understand the historical information. Throughout the unit, students will create journals. Within these journals, they will record their daily interactions/relationships with others. Students will be required to discuss various feelings, values and attitudes of each interaction. Through a class discussion, these intrapersonal ideas will be connected to the feelings, values and attitudes discussed in Heloise's letters and Li Qingzhao's poems. By doing this, the students are placing value on the historical content as a result of the connections developed.

In addition, students will use their linguistic and rhythmic skills to illustrate their understanding of Li's poems. The students will interpret a selection of Li's poems, examining the content and tone. The students will take the emotions and feelings within her poems and compose their own utilizing the interactions within their journals. The students will do the same in regards to Peter Abelard and Heloise's letters.

Assuming the Voice of Character

After the students have obtained background knowledge of the historical time period, and the lives and writings of the Peter Abelard, Heloise and Li Qingzhao, the students will be asked to complete three letters. Although it appears to be a traditional assessment, these letters will require the students to use creativity and intelligence in order assume the role of two characters.

First, students must take the historical content and Heloise's opinions on marriage to compose a letter to Li as Heloise discussing her opposition. In order to understand multiple perspectives, the students will write a letter from Li to counter Heloise's position on marriage. The final letter will ask the students to use their own opinions and thoughts to write a letter to Heloise, Li or Peter Abelard to discuss their opinions on marriage. Using the "voice" of the specific historical figures will hopefully enable the students to learn specific qualities about the people they have studied. Qualities I would like the students to understand would be the struggles that both couples dealt with throughout their relationships.

In order to ensure that students are engaged in a meaningful process, they will actually be writing and responding to each other's letters, but writing in the tone as if they were Heloise, Li Qingzhao themselves. Using the voice of Heloise and Li Qingzhao in their letters, I hope that the students will gain insight into the emotions these women were feeling about the situations of their relationships and consequences of their actions. While reading, writing, and discussing what the historical characters went through emotionally in their relationships, students will be doing the same with their personal relationships. Once the students analyze how the historical figures dealt with their situations the students will hopefully have a better way to evaluate their own relationships.

Once the students connect to the historical figures on an emotional level they will make a personal connection to similar situations that are occurring in their own lives. In the end, the students will understand that although Heloise and Li Qingzhao resided in different places and time then themselves, the situations and emotions are similar to their own. Overall, the students will come away with a greater appreciation for history, the importance of primary sources, improved reading comprehension skills, and a better sense about their own relationships.

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Setting the Stage

Heloise (1100/1101-1163/1164), the niece of Fulbert who worked in the Cathedral of Notre Dame, lived during the explosive Medieval Era in Europe. Europe was transforming from manors and estates to towns, inventing the predominant middle class. Religion and the church continued to play an integral role through the development of the towns. In addition, colleges and universities developed, which highly influenced an intellectual Europe (Slaughter & Bokovoy 247).

The torrid love affair of a young schoolgirl and her tutor will certainly capture the attention of my students. Both Heloise and Peter Abelard (1079-1142) were brilliant people. Heloise was knowledgeable in such topics of "faith and morality, logic and reasoning" (249). Peter's brilliance was found in his ability to "apply the use of logic and reason to questions of faith" (249). Students could assume that two individuals schooled in the topics of logic, faith, and morality would not find themselves in such a disastrous situation.

Heloise and Peter Abelard's relationship was set in Paris during the early twelfth century. Once source describes Europe during this time, ". . . [Europe] began to expand economically and territorially. This doubtless had much to do with the development of confident new attitudes and the rise of a generation that faced situations that the wisdom of its elders seemed inadequate to explain" (Frankforter 191). The rise of intellectuals eventually set the stage for the meeting Heloise and Peter Abelard. The two lovers met when Heloise's uncle, Fulbert, hired Abelard, a renowned intellectual, to tutor his niece. Ego and seduction were the motives behind Fulbert's offer for Abelard to tutor Heloise and Abelard's acceptance of the position. Fulbert's reason for hiring Abelard had less to do with improving Heloise's education and more with the image of having an intellectual like Abelard tutor his niece. Abelard's motive for accepting Fulbert's offer was both the seduction of young Heloise and possibly advancing his career amongst the church scholars (Slaughter & Bokovoy 256).

The lover's quickly abandoned their studies and focused more on their sexual encounters and intellectual conversations in letters written to one another. Upon Fulbert's discovery of the affair he banished Abelard from his home. When Heloise became pregnant with Abelard's child at the age of 15 or 16, Abelard had her travel to his sister's home in Brittany, France to deliver the child. After Fulbert discovered Heloise's absence from his home he demanded that Abelard marry his niece. Heloise, who understood the culture of the times, refused Abelard's proposal on the basis that the marriage would destroy his career as a church scholar. Heloise and Peter were married anyway, although Heloise refused to acknowledge they were married. Abelard placed Heloise at the convent Argenteuil to protect her from the abuse directed towards her from Fulbert as a result for her refusal of the marriage (258). In Abelard's "Historia Calamitatum" he writes about his attempt to make amends with Fulbert, "I begged his forgiveness and promised to make any amends he might think fit. I protested that I had done nothing unusual in the eyes of anyone who had known the power of love" (Radice & Clanchy 13). Despite agreeing to marry Heloise, Fulbert wanted more from Abelard. The lasting and most brutal consequence of Heloise and Abelard's relationship was not their subsequent separation, but Abelard's castration that was arranged by Fulbert. The castration was the means in which Fulbert chose to take revenge for the public embarrassment caused by Abelard's affair with his niece (Slaughter & Bokovoy 258).

The remainder of Heloise and Abelard's life was spent amongst the religious people at the convent and monastery. Occasionally, Abelard would see Heloise at the Paraclete, "a modest place of prayer and contemplation" built by Abelard (259). Abelard died in 1142 and Heloise in 1163 (263). Despite the conditions of Heloise and Abelard's relationship they maintained contact in their letters. The letters offer a vivid description of Heloise and Abelard's relationship, education, and opinions towards religion and romance. The letters will be an extremely useful tool in helping my students better understands the culture in which Heloise and Abelard lived and examine the nature of relationships.

Heloise was chosen for the unit because she was as intelligent as many of her male counterparts, but "was denied access to this new world of scholarship" and "the silencing of Heloise was a prelude to the silencing of academic women as a class fro the next eight centuries" (264). From this unit students will be able to examine a culture that prized intelligence, but only from men. The students will come to understand the gender inequality that existed in Europe during this time period. The letters of this unit will assist students in deducting ideas about the culture of the time period, the roles Heloise and Peter played in the relationship, examination into the ability of relationships to interfere with reason and logic, and the role of religion in relationships in the past and present.

Another woman who will be the focus of the unit is Li Qingzhao. The students will view in a power point presentation the following information regarding Li's biography:

Li Qingzhao (old spelling: Li Ch'ing-chao) was born into a Chinese family known for literary talent and service to the emperor. Her poetry was well known even before her marriage in 1101 to a student, Zhao Mingcheng (1081-1129). In 1103, her husband began his official career; from 1108 the couple lived in the Shandong province. From 1121, he spent much time traveling around the province; his periodic absences may have provided the occasion for some of Li's love poems (http://home.infionline.net/~ddisse/liquinzh.html).

I believe it is important for the students to understand that Li had established herself as an educated literary talent prior to her marriage. This is a situation that was not typical of most women in twelfth-century China. Chinese historians John King Fairbank and Merle Goldman described the role of women during Li's lifetime as "inferior creatures, relatively expendable, who were usually married into other families"(103). This quotation by Fairbank and Goldman will assist in illustrating to students the uniqueness of Li's in her society.

Another quotation that the students will examine in their initial lesson will be an excerpt from Stephen Owen's "The Snares of Memory" where Li recalls her marriage:

In 1101, in the first year of the Chien-chung Reign, I came as a bride to the Chao household. At that time my father was a division head in the Ministry of Rites, and my father-in-law, later Grand Councilor, was an executive in the Ministry of Personnel. My husband was then twenty-one and a student in the Imperial Academy. In those days both families, the Chaos and the Lis, were not well-to-do and were always frugal (Owen 82).

This excerpt is important for students to examine because the quotation illustrates the financial struggles of a young couple. The students would be asked a question such as "What does frugal mean?" "What issues can add stress to a marriage?" "Is money an important factor in a relationship?" "How would Li Qingzhao and Zhao Mingcheng's restrictions with money mold their relationship as a couple?" Despite living in a frugal manner Li and Zhao had a happy marriage that is described in an online source that the students will view:

Li and Zhao's marriage was extremely happy, as can be seen reflected in her poetry. The couple shared a love of art and antiquities and spent much of their time and money collecting seals, bronze vessels, rubbings of inscriptions, sculpture, manuscripts, scrolls, poetry, and paintings. Sharing the desire to preserve China's unique artwork, they would spend their evenings together in their studio pouring over their collection, examining and systematically cataloging the many pieces. They had amassed one of the most impressive collections of Chinese artifacts of their time. Zhao even began a book, Record of Bronze and Stone, documenting the relics (http://www.answers.com/topic/li-qingzhao).

The students will then discuss some of the difficulties Li encountered throughout her lifetime.

In 1125, tribes from northern Manchuria known as the Jurchens invaded the Northern Song region of China (Fairbanks & Goldman 115). Li and her husband were forced to flee their home in 1127 from these invaders. Throughout their five hundred mile trip to a more safe section of the country, Li and Zhao lost many of their belongings (Hansen, 335). The students, now having learned about Li's financial situation as a young couple will be asked to write in their journals why they believe that it would be so devastating for a couple to amass such a large collection of goods, only to lose many of them later in life.

The loss of the couple's possessions was not the only devastating part of their journey. After Zhao was forced to separate from Li, in order to see the Southern Song emperor, he contacted malaria. Li barely made it to his side, before he passed away as a result of the disease (335).

The initial lesson, "Inspecting the Past", will have students read the following excerpt about Li's life:

In the year 1127, the Jin, a minority nationality in the north, vanquished the Northern Song government, which fled south and established the Southern Song regime in Hangzhou. The war broke up Li Qingzhao's happy family. Zhao Mingcheng died of illness while a large part of their collection of books, scrolls, and curios were lost in the war. Alone, Li Qingzhao wandered about until she came to an area between today's Hangzhou and Shaoxing, and spent the rest of her days in misery, loneliness and profound melancholy. In many of her poems, she expressed her nostalgia for her native town, her old home, and late husband, recalling the peacefully happy life that was no more (http://www.chinavoc.com/history/song/lqzh.htm).

After reading the excerpt students will be asked to respond to the following questions in their journal: How would you feel if your family was forced to leave their home? What possessions would you take with you? Why did you choose these possessions? What meaning do these possessions have for your life? What emotions would you feel if you were forced to separate from your family? How would you cope with the death of a loved one?

The students, in later lessons, will analyze Li's poems before and after the invasion of her home and death of her husband. Using the reading, discussing, and letter writing in Li's "voice" students will better understand the political chaos that reigned over Li's lifetime. Students will also comprehend, through the classroom activities why Li and her poetry were unique and prized for her culture and gender. Li's poetry will enable the students to evaluate the topics and tones contained with in her poetry. Li's poetry and memoir offers us a rare glimpse into the joys and struggles of life in China during the twelfth century.

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Classroom Activities

Lesson One - Inspecting the Past


Students will be able to. . .

1. Assess their prior knowledge and learning about Medieval Europe and Ancient China.
2. Predict, evaluate and discuss the important events in those time periods.


In order to better understand the later lessons, students need to develop an understanding of the two time periods discussed. At the present time, the students have very little knowledge on Medieval Europe and China. As a result, the students will begin the unit completing a KWL chart about each time period. The students will begin by completing the "What do we already know?" and "What they wish to learn column?" At the closure, the students will use this chart to assess their knowledge.


1. Create a T-chart on the board labeling Medieval Europe and China. Record student responses from the KWL on the board. Discuss student responses.
2. Give student a brief overview of the unit and today's objectives.
3. Hand out the "What's going on in this Era" worksheet.
4. Explain to students that they will receive two boxes. Each box will contain either images from Medieval Europe or China. These images are clues to the important events of the era.
5. Inform the students that they will work in groups of 4-5 to make predictions of the time period based upon the images. Reiterate that the students must complete the chart with the image number, prediction and what from the picture allowed them to make that prediction.
6. Pass out the boxes to groups and tell the students that they will about 25-30 minutes to complete the task.
7. Circulate the room to check for understanding; answer/ask questions and make sure students are on task. Remind students when they have 10 minutes and 5 minutes remaining. Take a few minutes to set up the Power Point presentation that contains all the box images.
8. Regain the students' attention. Begin to discuss their responses. Each time a student discusses a picture, post the picture on the projector screen. Ask students to thoroughly explain their responses.
9. After the discussion is complete, begin discussing the important events of the era based on the images. Pass-out guided packet for students to note important information.
10. After discussion is complete pass out the students' homework assignment. This worksheet is 5 questions formulated based on Bloom's Taxonomy. Inform the students that they will need to think carefully about the answers.


Tell the students to take out the worksheet from the beginning of the period (KWL). Tell them to take a few minutes to recall everything the learned today in the "L" column. Once the students are complete ask them to share their responses.

Lesson Two - Exploring Love in the Past


Students will be able to. . .

1. Analyze and evaluate information and ideas from various primary resources.
2. Compare the relationships between the authors and recipients.
3. Interpreting the importance/influence of the time period.
4. Propose theories about the roles of men and women.
5. Create connections between the background knowledge and the primary resources.


Write these instructions on the board for the students to follow upon entering the room:

1. Take out KWL from yesterday.
2. Read the following and answer the question: Love comes in many different situations. You may love your parents, your aunt, your brother or friend. Either way, you have experienced some sort of love. Write a brief statement about your love experience. Do you think love has changed over time? In other words, do you think someone in Medieval Europe or China experienced love as you have? Support your answer with information from yesterday's class.


1. After the students have had a few minutes to complete the initiation, regain their attention and discuss their responses. Do not call upon students. This may be a sensitive subject; therefore, students should only be called upon if they volunteer.
2. Give students a brief overview of the day's objectives.
3. Pass out the graphic organizer.
4. Inform the students that they will be working in small groups and be given one letter from Heloise and one from Li Qingzhao. Explain to students that upon answering the questions on each poem, they are required to directly quote from the poem/letter.
5. Tell the students that they will have 25-30 minutes to work in their small groups and then regroup for discussion.
6. Hand out packets and questions and allow the students to answer it individually.
7. Circulate the room to check for understanding; answer/ask questions and make sure students are on task. Remind students when they have 10 minutes and 5 minutes remaining.
8. Regain the students' attention, and have a group discussion about their findings, thoughts and opinions. Encourage students to respond to each other's responses. Keep a tally of those students who have participated.
9. Collect the students' worksheets after the closure.


Pose this question at the end of the period. Do you think that Heloise and Li Qingzhao's experience was influenced by the time period? Support your answer with information from the previous lesson.

Lesson Three - Through the Eyes of Li Qingzhao


Students will be able to. . .

1. Create connections between the background knowledge and the primary resources.
2. Interpret personal relationships and establish connections between their lives and the authors.
3. Empathize with Li Qingzhao in her poems by predicting emotions, from the emotions list that Li Qingzhao felt.


Pose a question on the board: When you hear the word love, what other ideas come to mind? Record the students' responses on the board. Read one of Li Qingzhao's poems, and post it on the overhead. Analyze the poem with the students asking them to use some words to describe Li Qingzhao's love experienced in the poem. Compare and contrast the students' views and Li Qingzhao's view of love.


1. Inform students that on center of their group tables there is an envelope and in that envelope there is one of Li Qingzhao's poems.
2. Tell students working in their groups of four to select one person to read the envelope's contents while the rest of the group follow along.
3. After the letter is read, instruct students to discuss with their group the guided reading questions in order to help understand the poem better.
4. Once the questions are completed, inform students to select four emotions from the emotions list that the students felt Li Qingzhao or her lover felt and be able to explain why with examples from the poem.
5. Inform students that they have 25-30 minutes to complete the guided reading questions and the emotions list.
6. Remind students that the poem may be difficult to understand, but they can do it.
7. Circulate the room to check for understanding; answer/ask questions and make sure students are on task. Remind students when they have 10 minutes and 5 minutes remaining.
8. Regroup the students for the next activity. Inform students that they will approach the screen and place the "Box it off" around the emotion that their character felt. On the board is a "How do you feel today" poster. Remind students that they are required to speak in the first person and explain why Li Qingzhao or her lover felt that way based on the information from the reading.
9. Model an example for the students.
10. Call on different students to approach the front of the room and explain their emotions. Be sure to select at least one member from each group, volunteers or not.
11. Repeat step 10 until for about 7-10 student responses and be sure to reiterate important points.
12. Explain to the students that beginning today they will start a journal. Within their journals they will record any relationship interaction they have in the upcoming days. Remind students to write the who, what, where, when and why of the encounter and their emotions. Inform the students that later in the unit.
13. Pass out journals and emotions packet.


Pose this question to the students: "How do you think Li Qingzhao's emotions are similar to your own? Provide examples from today's lesson.

Lesson Four - Through the Eyes of Heloise


Students will be able to. . .

1. Create connections between the background knowledge and the primary resources.
2. Interpret personal relationships and establish connections between their lives and the authors.
3. Empathize with Heloise in her letters by predicting emotions, from the emotions
list that Heloise felt.


Pose a question on the board: When you hear the word love, what other ideas come to mind? Record the students' responses on the board. Read one of Heloise's letters, and post it on the overhead. Analyze the letter with the students asking them to use some words to describe Heloise's love experienced in the letter. Compare and contrast the students' views and Heloise's view of love.


- Refer to Procedure #1-13 in lesson three using Heloise's letters.


Pose this question to the students: "How do you think Heloise's emotions are similar to your own? Provide examples from today's lesson.

Lesson Five - Through the Eyes of Peter Abelard


Students will be able to. . .

1. Create connections between the background knowledge and the primary resources.
2. Interpret personal relationships and establish connections between their lives and the authors.
3. Empathize with Peter Abelard by predicting emotions, from the emotions list that Peter Abelard felt.


Pose a question on the board: When you hear the word love, what other ideas come to mind? Record the students' responses on the board. Read one of Peter Abelard's letters and post it on the overhead. Analyze the poem with the students asking them to use some words to describe Peter Abelard's love experienced in the letter. Compare and contrast the students' views and Peter Abelard's view of love.


- Refer to Procedure #1-13 in lesson three using Peter Abelard's letters.


Pose this question to the students: "How do you think Peter Abelard's emotions are similar to your own? Provide examples from today's lesson.

Lesson Six - Assuming the Voice of the Characters


Students will be able to. . .

1. Create connections between the background knowledge and the primary resources.
2. Interpret personal relationships and establish connections between their lives and the authors.
3. Empathize with the historical figures by predicting emotions, from the emotions list.


In order for the students to better understand the concept of assuming the voice of the historical figures students will speak to the teacher and each other in the "voice" of the historical person. The students will spend a few minutes conversing with one another in a manner in which they believe, based upon their knowledge from previous lessons; the historical figure would have spoken. After a few minutes, students will take on the voice of the other historical persons.


1. Students will first be assigned to write in the voice of Li Qingzhao.
2. Students will take the knowledge they have learned about their person from the previous lessons and draft a letter regarding the issue of relationships, marriage, and love to Heloise.
3. Students will then create a response letter to Li Qingzhao using the voice of Heloise. Students will include details of Heloise's relationship with Peter Abelard and knowledge of Heloise's opinions on marriage, relationships, and love.
4. Students will read their letters and response letters aloud to the class.
5. Students will discuss similarities and differences in the letter's contents as a class.
6. Students will then be asked to compose a final letter to Heloise, Li, or Peter Abelard in their own voice. The letter will contain the student's personal opinions and thoughts on the issue of marriage, relationships, and love.
7. Students will turn the letters in at the end of class.
8. Students will be asked to write a one -two page letter to the teacher explaining how this unit affected the student's perspectives on relationships and emotions.


Students will create an "exit slip" that contains which historical figure the student related to the most, providing examples from the previous lesson.

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1. Fairbank, John King and Merle Goldman. China: A New History (London: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2001).

A comprehensive book on the history of China. The book offers a section on the Jurchen invasion.

2. Frankforter, A. Daniel. The Medieval Millennium 2nd edition (Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2003).

This textbook offers an in-depth look at Europe during the Middle Ages. There are numerous pages devoted to Peter Abelard's biography.

3. Hansen, Valerie. Voyages in World History (Boston: Houghton Mifflin,

forthcoming 2009).

Textbook that highlights the life and times of Heloise and Abelard of France and Li Qingzhao and Zhao Mingcheng of China.

4. Owen, Stephen. "The Snares of Memory." Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1986.

This is a wonderful chapter on the life of Li Qingzhao. This source discusses Li's marriage to Zhao Mingcheng, the collection of their antiquities, and the loss of both her husband and many material possessions.

5. Radice, Betty and M.T. Clancy Eds. "The Letters of Abelard and Heloise." Penguin Books, 2003.

This is an excellent source for information pertaining to Abelard and Heloise's relationship and letters.

6. Slaughter, Jane and Melissa K. Bokovoy. Sharing the Stage: Biography and Gender in Western Civilization. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2003.

This book contains background information on Heloise and Abelard as well as a great selection of their letters, which are used in the classroom activities portion of the unit.

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Student Sources

1. http://www.chinapage.com/liqing-poetry.html

This website contains a myriad of Li Qingzhao's poems.

2. www.chinavoc.com/history/song/lqzh.htm

A brief article on Li Qingzhao's life.

3. www.sino-platonic.org/abstract/spp013_ci_poetry.html-23k

This website offers an excerpt from the Sino-Platonic Papers- nice background information on Ci-poems and Li Qingzhao.

4. http://home.infionline.net/~ddisse/liquinzh.html

This is a wonderful resource of Li Qingzhao's biography that will be used in the power point presentation.

5. http://www.answers.com/topic/liqingzhao

This website contains a quick overview to introduce Li Qingzhao to the students.

6. http://people.ucsc.edu/~myrtreia/essays/doulbe_nine.html

This website has notes on Double Nine and Wuling Spring by Li Qingzhao.

7. http://www.melanconent.com/lib/knowl/history/china/song/north.html.

This is a site that contains a condensed version of history of the Song Dynasty.

8. www.greatchinese.com/famous/lady/liqingzhao.htm

This is a website where students can view some of Li Qingzhao's poems in Chinese.

9. http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/Museum/4826/shengshengman.htm

This website offers multiple poems by Li Qingzhao.

10. http://latter-rain.com/eccle/abela.htm

This website offers background information on Peter Abelard.

11. http://www.historyguide.org/intellect/abelard.html

A brief biography of Peter Abelard is found on this website.

12. http://classiclit.about.com/cs/articles/a/aa_abelard.htm

This website offers background information on Heloise and Peter Abelard as well as links to additional websites on the couple.

13. http://faculty.molloy.edu/smayo/Letters%20of%20Heloise.htm

This website contains the four readings from Peter and Heloise that is listed in the Strategies section titled "Examining Primary Resources."

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Appendix/Classroom Materials

1. Power Point Presentation - Incorporate background information on Medieval Europe and China as well as biographies on Heloise, Peter Abelard, Li Qingzhao, and Zhao Mingcheng.
2. KWL charts for the initiations can be reproduced on the front board, overhead, and students note books. A pre-made KWL graphic organizer could also be produced for the students' use.
What do you already know? | What do you want to know more about? | What have you learned?
3. A T-Chart on Medieval Europe and China:
Medieval Europe | Medieval China
4. Predictions about the images from China and Europe
Predictions about China based upon the images | Predictions about Europe based upon the images.
5. Emotions list can be done in the students' journals or on a separate sheet to be turned in.
6. A worksheet for students to organize direct quotes and explanations from the readings.
Quote | Poem/Letter & Author | Explanation of Quote
7. Students can keep a running journal in their notebooks or the instructor can choose to photocopy packets that are lined, blank pages.

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