Impact of the Early Explorers - continued

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

Big Idea

Our country was created by people who believed in their dreams.

Creating the Purpose

5 minutes

I open by asking "What are some facts that you learned in the last lesson on explorers to the Americas" then I narrow it down more by asking "Why did they travel so far to unknown lands?" and then to activate their objective "What were some benefits countries received from their explorations?" "What were some problems faced because of their explorations?" 

Students share out and I listen and identify students who are not contributing. This is a good time to have them think-pair-share because it allows all students the opportunity to talk to activate prior knowledge before they need to work independently.

I introduce that today they will analyze and complete cards for the final four of their eight early explorers of the Americas. Our purpose is to learn the problems and solutions they faced and the pros and cons of their adventures.

Guiding the Learning

10 minutes

I place the Christopher Columbus sample card back on the board and walk through the steps for identifying the Personal Background, Sponsor Country, Purpose for Exploration, Areas Explored, Impact on Native Americans, Impact of the Expedition, and drawing a portrait of the explorer on the front of the card.

I answer questions and address difficulties and solutions before releasing students to independent work time to read the second half of the information on the remaining explorers and respond on their student cards. 

This is a great time to review the cards completed on the previous day to address and question problems that occur with struggling students. Some areas I became aware of were difficulties identifying the purpose of their journey and who funded their expedition. They have a tendency to use the first place found in the passage as their proof rather than reading deeper for details. Completing a partner turn-debate-defend helped to correct many errors and to build better comprehension.     

Independent Learning

40 minutes

I have them work with their same partner to complete the second set of cards so that I can limit the amount of paperwork I need to print and improve their identification of the facts. It also has two other benefits in helping struggling students by adding discourse to improve understanding and time management of the lesson. Here are some tips from a student on how she improved her time management in the second lesson.


I set a timer for 30 min and then 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)

After they finish I have students from group one exchange packets with students from group two around the classroom. I have Part One groups hold up their packets and Part Two groups stand and exchange papers. When part one receives a packet they put their hands down. This makes it easy for twos to see where to go to get a packet and adds a bit of fun. The benefit of this is that my students don't feel as threatened when a peer gives advice (as opposed to a teacher or other authority figure) so they accept the corrections in a much more positive way. It also fees me to help the few who are really struggling (slow workers who haven't finished their cards yet, someone stuck on a fact for a card, and those having difficulty reading for facts in the text).    



Closing the Loop

10 minutes

I gather students together and ask them, "Why was there so much competition between the countries?"

I take student responses and want them to come to the realization that land and wealth = power. To help them with this I take out our laminated map of the world and have students use Expo pens to trace routes of each explorer. (I have also done this with colored strings)

I want them to make the connection that each country (explorer) claimed a different area and that their influence can still be seen in these places today. I make "realizations" as they end their journey lines on the map - such as "Wow, that's why South America celebrates Spanish holidays, or that makes sense because Canada has a large French-Canadian population, and United States speaks English language, etc"

I follow this up with the question, "How might our country have been different if these explorers never came to the New World?" to get them thinking about the significance of the traditions and nationalities brought to each place. If they don't make as strong connection I switch it up by asking, "What is the French landed in the U.S.? or the Spanish landed here? - How would our country have changed?"