Mavis Weir teaches tenth-grade geography and world history at Casa Grande High School in Petaluma, California. Located an hour north of San Francisco, in the scenic, rural Sonoma Valley, Petaluma is considered a bedroom community mostly for professionals who work in San Francisco. The population is predominantly Caucasian, with a small but growing Hispanic community. Casa Grande is one of two high schools in the area.
Ms. Weir's students spent the year studying world history in the age of democracy. The year began with a unit on the origins of democracy, followed by units on the Industrial Revolution, colonialism, the rise of the nation-states, the world wars, and country identification. In the final unit, on area studies, the class used their knowledge of world history to examine different countries and regions of the world.
Ms. Weir's students also participated in a global negotiations project sponsored by Stanford University. Fourteen classes took part in the yearlong project, with each class adopting the identity of a different country and working with other "countries" to debate issues, negotiate agreements, form alliances, and learn about global relationships. Ms. Weir's class represented the United Kingdom.
By the time students began the lesson on migration, they had a foundation in world history and experience simulating political identities. Working in groups, students took on the identities of six different Latin American countries in an effort to explain why people leave their homeland to live somewhere else. This lesson built on the online global negotiation project the class was already participating in, by allowing students to put themselves in the position of someone from another country. The lesson concluded with class presentations that illustrated what each group had learned about the factors that drive people from one region and attract them to another.
Lesson Background >>