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Assignment #4: Mini Unit Plan

Adrianna Sloan

EDUC 4225

February 21, 2017

Option D: Mini Unit Plan

Course: HZT4U Grade 12 Philosophy

Curriculum Expectations: This unit covers Strand E

Unit: Epistemology

Duration of Unit: 15 periods (3 weeks)

Description of Unit: Epistemology is the study of knowledge, and in this unit we will look at

knowledge from the point of view of many well-known philosophers, such as: Plato, Aristotle,

Socrates, Ren Descartes, John Locke, and David Hume. We will study their ideas on

knowledge, truth, and reason while simultaneously developing critical thinking and reasoning

skills. Students will also develop skills related to formulating arguments, philosophical

questioning, and research skills. Throughout the unit, students will maintain a philosophers

journal, in which they will write reflections, questions, and thoughts about particular quotes and

topics throughout the unit. We will often spend the first ten minutes of the class writing in the

philosophers journal. Students will have opportunities to reflect personally, participate in small

group as well as whole class discussions. The range of activities aims to appeal to learners of all

styles and to engage all types of students.

Learning Goals:

By the end of the unit, students will be able to

Identify and describe the main theories related to epistemology of philosophers

Reflect on the theories of epistemology and give their own opinion, using their

experiences to support their point of view.

Think critically and question the theories of epistemology.

Day One: An Introduction to Epistemology

Before beginning the unit, introduce the Wonder Wall, a section of the wall of the

classroom where students can take a post-it note and write down any questions they have or

things that they are curious about at any point of the unit. We will take some time at the end of

class at least once a week to answer them.

As an introductory activity to see some of the opinions that the students have before

starting the unit on epistemology, we will do a Graffiti activity, in which there will be eight

stations around the room. At each station is a piece of chart paper with a question written in the

middle. Each group will spend 2-3 minutes at each station and answer the question. We will

rotate through until everyone has had a chance to answer each question. Some examples of

questions will be things like: Is it possible to know anything with certainty?, What does it

mean for something to be true?. And If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it,

does it make a sound?. The questions reflect topics that will be covered throughout the unit and

gets students thinking about what is true and how we know what we know. Once everyone has

been through the stations, we will have a class discussion and share our thoughts and answers.

Day Two: More of an Introduction to Epistemology

In their groups that they are seated with, students will begin the period by answering I

know in as many different sentences that they can in two minutes. Once the time is up, they

will share their answers with the class, as the teacher notes some of them down. While they are

sharing, the teacher will listen for two different types of knowing, belief and fact. For example,

I know that my mom loves me versus I know that 1+1=2. Once these two have been

identified, as the class what the difference between these two kinds of knowing is, and get them

to sort the sentences they came up with into the two different types of knowing. Ask them if

belief is a kind of knowing, and if it is as certain as knowing.

Divide students into three groups based on their answer to the following questions:

whoever believes that knowledge has something to do with human intuition is Team Socrates,

whoever believes that knowledge is based on reason is Team Plato, and whoever believes that

knowledge is based on sense observation is Team Aristotle. Adjust teams to make them fairly

equal. Each group is responsible to find out their philosophers concept of knowledge and truth

and will have to make a presentation to the class tomorrow. Presentation should be easy to

follow, not too complicated, and in a format that will make it easy for others to take notes.

Day Three: Presentations of Socrates, Platos, and Aristotles Concept of Knowledge and


Students will be given the first twenty minutes of class to prepare for their presentations.

While groups are presenting, the others will be expected to take notes. The teacher will take time

in between presentations to fill in any missing information, or clear up any confusion.

Once the presentations are done, students will have some time to answer the question

displayed on the board to be written in their Philosophers Journal.

Day Four: Empiricism and David Hume

The main subject of todays lesson is David Hume and his theory of empiricism, in which

Hume questions the Scientific Method, and how we should not make predictions based on past

experience. Hume claims that the future will not necessarily behave like the past. The goal of

today is to get students thinking as to whether or not it is reasonable to make predictions about

what will happen based on past experiences. We will then begin an Egg Drop Activity

(http://depts.washington.edu/nwcenter/downloads/EggDrop.pdf for a full description).

For the remainder of the period, the teacher will give a quick lesson on David Hume, and

tie his theory of empiricism to the activity we just did.

Day Five: Syllogisms & Introduction to Platos Allegory of the Cave

We will begin to look at how reason can lead to the wrong conclusion, illustrated through

the use of syllogisms. The first syllogism shown to the students will be:

All humans are mortal.

Socrates is human.

Therefore, Socrates is a mortal.

The second syllogism shown to the students:

All football players are idiots.

All idiots are happy.

Therefore, all football players are happy.

Both of the syllogisms follow perfect logic, and use perfect reasoning. However, the

conclusion, while logically fine, is false, and we know that from our past experiences. Reasoning

does not always lead to the correct conclusions. Sense observation is also necessary when it

comes to drawing conclusions.

Have the students come up with some of their own syllogisms and share a few with the


Introduction to the Allegory of the Cave: Give students a copy of the Allegory that they

can use for reference later on. Show an animated YouTube clip of the story which may help

students grasp the concept. Have students draw their own version of the cave in a way that

demonstrates their interpretation of the story. Ask the students to find features of the story that

are allegorical and have them explain their meaning. We will continue with this tomorrow.

Day Six: Platos Allegory of the Cave, Theories of Perception

Introduction to talking about perception: Play the YouTube video Mutant Giant Spider

Dog and talk about failures in perception. These failures should make us realize the need to be

skeptical about what we think we know, or at least to be aware that we need to not be so certain

that we know what we perceive to be 100% true.

Display the following on the board:

Students can eat their lunch

In the

The cafeteria

Have the students read the message. They will only use one the even though there are

two written down, which demonstrates how our expectations can alter our perceptions, and this

can happen in many different instances in our lives. Have the students do a Think/Pair/Share

about how theories of philosophers weve studied are related to this idea. Have the students go

on computers or iPads and find some more examples of sensory perception illusion exercises.

Have the students write in their journals about one of the exercises they found, describing what

sense(s) it deceives and what they think about sensory perceptions now that they have seen the

many ways in which they can be deceived.

Class Discussion: talk about perception in Platos Allegory of the Cave. Transition to

discussion about the allegorical features of the allegory.

Day Seven: Descartes, Rationalism

As an introductory activity to rationalism, have an opaque bag with a small item in it

(like a small souvenir, knick-knack), and get five to six people to come feel what is inside the

bag, and write down on a piece of paper what they think is inside, without telling anybody else.
Go through the papers and compare ideas. Ask the class, How can we know what is in the bag

without opening it up?

After the small discussion, have a Jigsaw group activity, in which each person in a group

is responsible for researching a different aspect of Ren Descartes. The people from different

group responsible for researching the same topic get together and share and discuss what they

found, and then return to their original groups and share their findings.

Day Eight: The Truman Show

We will spend the first ten minutes of class writing in Philosophers Journals. The

question of the day will be related to rationalism.

We will then begin to watch the movie The Truman Show. While the students are

watching, have them think about what it would be like to be Truman and how difficult it would

be to see the difference between what is real and what is fake, especially since what he believed

to be real his entire life turned out to be false. Essentially, his entire life was a lie. Also tell

students to find ways in which the film is similar or different to Platos Allegory of the Cave.

Day Nine: The Truman Show

Some questions to think about as we continue the viewing of the film: What could you do

to find out what is real? How could you get behind the stage, how could you get outside of it?

Discuss the similarities between the film and Platos Allegory of the Cave. Behind Platos

allegory is an underlying message. What is the underlying message of this film?

Day Ten: Experience and Knowledge - John Locke

Brainstorm with the class examples of experience as an essential part of life and our

knowledge of something. Examples:

Music: experience of going to a live concert vs. listening to a recording

Art: seeing an original painting vs. copies
Food: eating something vs. looking at the menu

Talk about John Locke and how he believed that we are born a blank slate, and that we come to

know things only through experiences. Divide the class into groups of four for mini-debates, in

which two people in the group will be on Lockes side, and two will be against. The students will

have 25 minutes to prepare, and the rest of the class for the mini-debates. The teacher will

circulate and help any groups that need it, and make some observations.

Day Eleven: Relativism

Have students complete the sentence School is in a few different ways that reflect

their current opinions. Once they are done that, have them complete the same sentence, but from

what they remember as a student in grade nine. Share and compare the answers. Usually the

answers are different, even though most of the time the school is the same. This is because the

point of view of a 14-year-old is quite different than that of a 17- or 18-year-old. They are

relative to the two different ages and experiences they had had. Everything is relative. Have

students research different types of relativism and share with class. End of class will be dedicated

to writing in journals about how relativism affects our lives, either positively or negatively.

Day Twelve: Debate Prep Day One Research

Students can choose to work alone or in pairs for the final task of the unit. Each

group/person will choose a philosopher. It can be one that we studied over the unit or one of their

choosing (with teacher approval). The final task is a debate on epistemological topics. Students

will participate in the debate from the point of view of their philosopher. The focus of today will

be the research portion of the debate preparation. Students will find out as much as they can

about their philosopher and their concept of knowledge and truth. Students will have a graphic

organizer to help organize their points.

Day Thirteen: Debate Prep Day Two Answering Questions

Today, the possible topics of the debate will be given to the students. It is their job to

come up with answers and proofs to these questions based on the research they did yesterday. If

they need to do additional research today, that will be available to them. Students will need to

have an opening statement prepared for their stance in general, and for each of the possible

questions. Examples of questions could be things like: The sky is blue, I know that there is a

higher power, or I know that I exist.

Day Fourteen: Debate Prep Day Three Defense and Researching Others

Students will have the day to anticipate counter-arguments of the other philosophers and

to come up with supporting arguments, and attacks to other philosophers arguments. Students

will be reminded that their research notes will be handed in after the debate. Even if they dont

bring up certain arguments during the actual debate, evidence that the group has researched other

philosophers and prepared appropriate arguments will be evaluated.

Day Fifteen: Philosophers Debate

Today the debate will last the whole period. It will begin by each group/philosopher

giving their opening statement. We will then choose a question randomly in which groups will

give a brief statement. Encourage the students to take notes of other groups and note things that

they can challenge them on. From there, whoever would like to start giving more of a defense

will start, and we will build on from there. Once everything has been said about the topic, we

will move onto another question. Students will have a chance to showcase their research skills,

their critical thinking, and their application of what we have learned throughout the past three


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%20Unit%20Plan%209.0- 1.pdf
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