A week ago I found myself looking for an interesting way to tell the story of the decline of the Roman Empire to my middle school students. The story is complex and so I wanted to guide them through it but I’m always looking for an alternative to a lecture. I hit on the idea of reader’s theater and I was pleased by the reaction I got from my students who enjoyed being able to actively participate in the story telling. I’ve included the materials below for other teachers who may wish to use them with their students.
The script has an accompanying handout for students. The handout will summarize many of the key points and so I recommend that you have your students read the corresponding section of the handout before reading each part of the script. The script is broken up into three scenes. First is an introduction which describes how the Roman Empire was eventually divided into two parts: an Eastern and a Western Roman Empire. The second scene explains the sacking of the city of Rome as well as the fall of the Western Roman Empire. The third scene portrays Emperor Justinian and the accomplishments of the Byzantine Empire. The corresponding sections of the handout are marked below:
I hope you find this useful. I’d love to hear any ideas or feedback if you use this lesson with your students. Enjoy!
- Script: Decline of the Roman Empire Reader’s Theater Script
- Handout: Decline of the Roman Empire Handout