Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

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LINK: Social Studies in Action Home Image of a middle school student.
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Exploring Geography Through African History

Video Summary: How do you teach students about a world region as large and as culturally diverse as the continent of Africa? Seventh-grade teacher Lisa Farrow begins by focusing on the roles that geography and economics have played in shaping Africa's history.

On the first day of this two-day lesson, Ms. Farrow gives each pair of students an envelope that contains thematic maps of Africa (one map, for example, shows migration routes and the spread of Islam), titles of events in African history, and descriptions of those events. Students match up each title and description on a map and assemble the maps in order by time period. They then use colored pencils to draw a timeline that shows the order and duration of the major time periods represented by the maps. They finish by using their timelines to answer questions on a worksheet.

On the second day, students research one of the three main trading empires (East Africa, West Africa, and Somalia) using a "multi-text" approach, which incorporates different types of textbooks into the research. They make posters that include the most important information about each empire, such as the extent of the empire, the location of its trading routes, and the dominant language. After presenting the posters to the rest of the class, students compare the empires and discuss why some were larger and lasted longer than others.

This lesson was adapted from material provided by the Teachers' Curriculum Institute, creators of History Alive and Social Studies Alive.

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Themes and Disciplines Addressed in this Lesson

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