Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Was Alexander Truly Great?

Chet Geering


Students will be able to process a variety of information on Alexander the Great in order to determine whether he was truly a great leader.


The student evaluates conflicting sources and materials in the interpretation of a historical event or episode.

The student understands significant aspects of the economic, political, and social systems of ancient Greece and the cultural contributions of that civilization.


-[World History: The Human Experience]. New York: Glencoe McGraw-Hill, 2001 (or comparable world history text).
-Access to copy machine
-Rubric for essay question (See attached file)
-Dry erase board and markers
-Teacher notes (See attached file)


1. Read text Chapter 4 (or appropriate chapter). (See Materials.)
2. Look through the procedure listing and make sure you are familiar with the terms listed within.
3. Make copies of the handout Things Inherited by Alexander for students.
4. Make copies of the handout Things Accomplished by Alexander for students.
5. Since the handout of the inherited and accomplished things are on the same page, it will be necessary to cut this handout in half before class.
6. Make copies of rubric for students.


1. Have students read chapter 4 in the text (or comparable chapter from another history text) the night before the lesson.

2. Ask students: Who was the father of Alexander the Great? (Answer: Philip II.)

3. Ask students: What influence did Philip II have on Alexander? (Answer: He taught him the ways of war and how to govern.)

4. Ask students: What famous Greek teacher was the personal tutor for Alexander? (Answer: Aristotle.)

5. Explain to the students that Philip II was a successful general who had conquered the city-states of Greece. He created many inventions and innovations on the battlefield. His most significant accomplishment was the development of the Phalanx.

6. Explain to the class what a Phalanx is and how it works. (Answer: A phalanx is a group of soldiers who are all armed with spears up to fifteen feet in length. These soldiers will point their spears forward and march in unison.)

7. Explain to the students that Philip II kept the best of Greek culture and expanded its trade routes when the city-states were conquered.

8. Ask students: What parts of Greek culture did Philip keep? (Answer: Laws, gods, and customs.)

9. Ask students: Before the expansion of Alexander, what empire was the greatest in the world? (Answer: Darius I.)

10. Ask students: What happened to Philip II? Why didn't he attack the Persians? (Answer: He was assassinated.)

11. Pass out copies of Things That Alexander Inherited. (See attached file.)

12. Discuss the Things That Alexander Inherited.

13. Pass out copies of Alexander's Accomplishments. (See attached file.)

14. Discuss Alexander's Accomplishments with the students.

15. Assign the essay question: Was Alexander truly great, or did he simply inherit his father's legacy?

16. Pass out the rubric so that students will know what is expected of them in the essay. (See attached file.)

17. Teacher evaluates essay.


1. Students will be assessed on their answer to the essay question provided.
2. The teacher can also informally evaluate the students by encouraging class participation and discussion by as many students as possible.
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