Impact of the Early Explorers

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SWBAT...define facts about the early explorers to the Americas to determine the pros and cons of their adventures

Big Idea

The history of our country's development is filled with both positive and negative consequences

Creating the Purpose

10 minutes

Turn to a neighbor and share a time you explored a new place. Why did you go? What did you do there? What did you learn from the trip? (5 min)

I like to call on a few people to share what they did and where they went – of course they need to be nominated as a “great adventure story” by their peers   

I need to get them interested in the current topic so I ask “Why would the explorers come to the Americas?” I try to get students to think about some of these reasons : adventure, trading goods and trade routes, religious beliefs, land and treasures, goods such as gold and spices.

I introduce the objective that we are going to analyze the adventures of eight adventurers over the next two lessons who are credited with being the early explorers of the Americas. Our goal today is to identify the pros and cons of their adventures.

Guiding the Learning

15 minutes

I like to spread this lesson over two days or two lessons and have them work with partners because of the amount of reading and writing it requires. I separate the packet into a group One and a Group Two splitting the class into two different groups each day so as to limit the amount of copies I have to make.   

I explain that students will: 

1st read about eight explorers, four today and four in the next lesson

2nd log facts on the back identifying: Personal Background, Sponsor Country, Purpose for Exploration, Areas Explored, Impact on Native Americans, Impact of the Expedition

3rd draw the names and a portrait on front using the sample pictures

(I stress the drawing is last and is not an assessed component of the card so that they do get so caught up in their drawings that they don't leave time for reading and writing.) 

I then use the Columbus article we have worked on for the past two lessons and project the image of the sample card on the board. I identify the facts one at a time on the board using questioning such as "What country sponsored - or paid for - the exploration? What did they hope to gain from paying the money? What were the risks involved in the travel to another unknown land? Why do you think he went? - to prod for information search and to explain my expectations for each part.  

We identify each part of the card and respond to each question with a short answer (teach note taking skills here) until all sections are responded to. I then draw a sketch of the explorer for the front sample of the card. You can have them work along with you - or ask them to wait until you are done and then have them complete it as a class using the chart as reference.

I pass out the papers to each group alternating a group One and group Two so that they are required to work together rather than "borrow knowledge" from the bigger table groups.   

Then you can walk around and look for correct responses, answer questions and ensure all students are participating in the activity. (This is also where I identify struggling students and ask them to work with me at the back table when we move to the independent work session - you could also keep them as teams and have them complete cards together to build knowledge from reading and conversations about each area. I make a reference card for them to use and help them to identify the sponsor country and the motive - two areas of difficulty)



Independent Learning

30 minutes

Student groups work together to each complete a set of four cards using their explorer articles with four pictures. 

The chart I just made I leave posted for student reference.

Its helpful to motivate the students if you let it slip that they will be using these in the next lesson to play challenge fact finding game - makes for better researching:)  

Assist struggling in a teacher-peer supported group or partner them with helpful higher level students. 

Closing the Loop

10 minutes

Students collect the explorer card packets for use in the next lesson

We close by completing a T-chart of the "Pros" and "Cons" of their adventures – evaluate the positives = religion, foods and plants, new animals, tools, resources and land/ and the negatives = disease, fighting, theft, taking of land and resources, damage to landscapes 

I come back to the focus question and close with a class discussion of "In what ways do the actions of these explorers still affect our lives today?