Journals for Today and Records from Yesterday
As a motivating tool, each student will assemble his or her own journal using cardboard, cloth for the cover, paper, and a quilting needle and thread. Creating this journal from scratch will instantly instill ownership and pride and which will, hopefully, create excitement as we move forward. This journal will serve as a reflection log, planner, note-taking record, and map-making diary documenting our journey through the lives of a number of travelers, both men and women, who moved through history. Understanding the evolution of writing materials will be interlaced throughout the unit as it is a key theme in world history. As we explore the history and background of individual travelers, we will ask an essential question and attend to a different focus - from simple fact gathering to tablet making to map reading to intertwining art and poetry.
As we journey along with these travelers, I will have them work with clay and a stylus to make tablets, placing them in clay envelopes as was done by the scribes in Gilgamesh. I will have my students pay a visit to Ulla Kasen at the Sterling Library at Yale where they can view the clay envelopes from Babylonia. Photos of Ashoka's inscriptions will provide helpful visuals of his writings on stone. Silk and rice paper will be used to create individual poems fashioned after the poetry of Li Qingzhao and we will also come to understand how Ibn Battuta used paper which spread from China, to Islamic world, and then to Europe. Finally, I will show them parchment, scraped animal skin, when we trek along with the Vikings, all this so as to provide my students with the relevant background knowledge. Bulleted areas are questions for journals.
The purpose of these boards is to provide a visual, running record of each traveler as he or she begins on a journey from one place to the another searching for frame, fortune, ideas, salvation, or adventure. These boards will allow students to gather information using short phrases so that when they begin their culminating activity, plagiarism can be avoided. This strategy has been invaluable to me as I work my students away from the cut and paste conundrum. The board can be designated to a specific area around the room, a bulletin board dedicated to each traveler, or tri-fold board holding the same information. The location of them is not important; the information is.
Each board will be headed by the traveler's name, the time period of his or her trek or life, and place or places of importance. Each board should contain several columns. In the first column, students will have to list any information they unearth after completing the chosen readings with regard to the historical information of time: kings, rulers, or leaders in power, wars ensuing, political unrest, laws being enacted, etc. In the second column, social issues of the time such as social unrest, population issues, and health concerns will be recorded. The third column should document the issues dealing with the economy; trade, trade routes, products, and reason for establishing/ ending such business practices. Finally, the class will be asked to inventory any personal information they gather about the explorer: age, marriage status, religious affiliation, reasons for the voyage, self-discoveries along the way, reflections, etc. As more boards are created, students will be asked to observe, discuss, and journal any contrasting ideas.
Gilgamesh - 2700 B.C. E. - 2500 B.C.E. Uruk
Historical/Political | Social | Economic | Personal
Placing the information on the boards could be assigned to different groups, i.e. a history group which would enter the historical information; the social group, the social concerns; etc. These groups could change with each traveler. Information could also be entered as a whole class activity as the readings are completed, or as an end-of-class activity, "Things I Have Discovered Today." Another way to complete these boards is to assign the culminating groups at the beginning of the unit and have each culminating group responsible for their own board from the outset of the unit.
Another dimension to this unit would be to keep a record of each traveler's route as he or she journeys through the world. This could easily be accomplished by beginning with a blank World Map. As the class studies the individual explorations, they could color pin each traveler stringing the voyage with that color as the traveler moves. Gilgamesh could be designated using the color red. As the class follows his route they would take red string and actually map his route using that string. Mylar overlays could be used to superimpose the map of the world during traveler's time over the current world map.
The Vinland Map
The class will have an interesting time looking at this cartographic representation at this terrific website http://www.econ.ohio-state.edu/jhm/arch/vinland/vinland.htm. A visit to the Beinecke Library at Yale to see the actual map should be arranged.
Piri Reis Map
In 1929, a group of historians found a map drawn on a gazelle skin drawn in 1513 by Piri Reis, a famous admiral of the Turkish fleet in the sixteenth century.I would use this map to discuss map authenticity. The authenticity of both the Vinland and Piri Reis maps has been questioned. This website provides opposing views on this most controversial issue.
It would be exciting to have students explore
on the internet.
A Road Map
After creating their individual travel journals, my students will be asked to collect and record information in various ways. First, given selected background information pieces on each traveler, they will be required to record all factual information on traveler boards, listing the historical, sociological, geographical, religious, and personal facts we unearth about each traveler. These visual displays will provide for the comparing and contrasting of ideas and will incorporate maps as well. Films and maps will be used for information gathering as well. They will be asked to read and write poetry incorporating art. They will also be asked to contemplate and record their thoughts and questions in their journals beginning with the origins of man and subsequently give the many reasons for which people travel. Lesson plans are embedded within the explanations of each traveler
The Origins of Man
(approximately 4-7million years ago)A discussion about archeology and evolution will surely bring about heated debate as many of my students have deep-seated religious views. This strategy of raising awareness through the use of intense discussion will serve as impetus as we begin.
The Kennewick Man
: (discovered 1996, dated 9400 years old)Using the NOVA film, "Mystery of the First Americans" - the Kennewick Man, I plan to show my students that archeology and CSI are blood relatives. Understanding the process of dating of materials will contribute to their understanding and will surely raise many questions in their minds.
: (ca 2650)We will next read selected excerpts from mythical The Epic of Gilgamesh, translated by Ben Foster, in an attempt to understand how a real ruler's life took on an added "aura" as his story was retold in epic poetic form.
: (reigned ca. 273-232 B.C.),
Moving east from Mesopotamia, we will journey down the Silk Road investigating India, Ashoka the Great, and Buddhism. Romila Thapar's,
As?oka and the Decline of the Mauryas,
will explain Ashoka's decision to foresake senseless war and turn instead to Buddhism, a decision that marked a crucial turning point in Indian history and the Buddhist religion. A very useful website for historical background for my students, http://www.answers.com/topic/asokaa will be used.
: (ca.960-1020)Traveling north into Scandinavia, Leif Ericson will provide my students with information that will shatter their understanding of the discovery of America, using
The Vinland Sagas
as a fascinating piece of human drama. We will also discuss the merits of the Vinland Map and compare it to the Piri Reis Map - are they real or fake?
: (ca.1084-1150) Leaving the Fertile Crescent and Scandinavia, we will explore the charming poems of remarkable female poet of the Song Dynasty, Li Qingzhao. I plan on providing my students with some paintings from this era to expand their understanding of art to include the art of the China. I will also ask them to explore calligraphy as a writing/ art experience.
: (1304-1369)Our final traveler will be Ibn Battuta who is best known as an explorer whose journeys covered almost the entirety of the known Islamic world, extending from present-day West Africa to Pakistan, India, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Southeast Asia and China. His account documents his travels and excursions over a period of almost thirty years, covering some 75,000 miles.
As we read, my students will analyze the author's craft or what it is that a writer' voice is trying to capture, record, or impart,
make connections to their own lives, predict what each traveler will do and say, visualize the places and events we visit, create maps that diagram the routes taken by each traveler, and reflect on what the individual journeys mean to them. The culminating activity will find individual teams of students, selected at the beginning of this unit, choosing one traveler to present as a creative oral presentation (a written version must also be submitted). Skits, poetry, monologues, or even scroll creations are just some ways the information can be presented. This presentation will incorporate those maps, photos, and factual information displayed on their "traveler board". A rubric will be developed so students understand the parameters of the experience and should be developed by the students in an effort to help them determine what the information is important.