This unit was crafted to address several curriculum needs of my students, namely reading for information using primary and secondary sources including maps, research-based writing with instruction on avoiding plagiarism, and reflective journal writing eliciting personal insights into each traveler's journey. As a teacher of seventh and eighth grade Language Arts at John S. Martinez School in New Haven, Connecticut, I am charged with the responsibility of ensuring that my students want to be and become life long learners. Demographically, my students are predominately Black and Hispanic. Many of them are bilingual learners. Reading and writing are at the core of this exigent task.
Non-fiction and primary source reading is increasingly stressed within our curriculum. This unit will carry my students on an interdisciplinary exploration journeying with travelers such as the Kennewick Man, Gilgamesh, Ashoka, Leif Erickson, Li Qingzhao and, finally. Ibn Battuta, all who moved through different regions and times. They will determine how and why civilizations spread, how each saw the role of women, how trade was central to existence, and how religion impacted lives. Beginning with the hands-on design and creation of personal journals, my students will 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 journals took along the way. This understanding of the evolution of writing is a key theme in world history. They will develop traveler boards as a graphic organizing tool and an artistic expression, pulling important facts out of our selected readings. Finally they will write and present a final project designed to incorporate their individual understandings of our selected travelers.