This unit was crafted to address several curriculum needs of my seventh and eighth-grade Language Arts students, namely reading for information using primary and secondary sources, research-based writing with instruction on avoiding plagiarism, and reflective journal writing eliciting personal insights into each traveler's journey. A journey or trip holds expectations of excitement, adventure, thrill, obstacle, and final success or defeat. This unit will carry my students on an interdisciplinary exploration with travelers such as the Kennewick Man (8400 years ago), Gilgamesh (ca. 2650 B.C.), Ashoka (ca. 273-232 B.C.), Leif Erickson, (ca.960-1020), Li Qingzhao (ca.1084-1150), and finally Ibn Battuta (1304-1369), each of whom moved through different regions and times. Beginning with the hands-on creation of personal journals, my students will have a "diary" of their own to record questions they may want answered or insights they may gain as they read about each adventurer. They will look at the many "forms" that writing and journaling took along the way. They will develop "traveler boards" as a graphic organizing tool, pulling important facts out of our selected readings, as well as an artistic creation. Finally they will write and present a final project designed to incorporate their individual understandings of our selected travelers.
(Recommended for Language Arts, grades 7-8; Social Studies, grades 6-12.)