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Name: Kell Simpson

Grade level or department: Grade 6, World History

1. Unit topic: 
African Kingdoms and Sustainability
(We study past African kingdoms and make connections to our present day society)

2. Duration of Unit: 
5 weeks
(3 weeks of research, one week to create the video assessment piece, and one week to present)

3. Topic ideas:  
- Early African Kingdoms
- European Colonialism in Africa in the early 20th c. and comparisons to Colombia
- Social, Economic and Environmental Sustainability
- Forms of Renewable Energy, Fair Trade, Eco-tourism, and “Happy Development”

4. Standards: These will come either your own state standards or from the Common Core Standards. Include:

SS 6.6.3 Distinguish between past, present, and future time
•    Identify the temporal structure of a historical narrative or story: its beginning, middle, and end (the latter defined as the outcome of a particular beginning).
•    Establish temporal order in constructing their [students'] own historical narratives: working forward from some beginning through its development, to some end or outcome; working backward from some issue, problem, or event to explain its origins and its development over time.
•    Interpret data presented in time lines and create timelines by designating appropriate equidistant intervals of time and recording events according to the temporal order in which they occurred.
•    Reconstruct patterns of historical succession and duration in which historical developments have unfolded, and apply them to explain historical continuity and change.
SS 6.7.4. Current Events: Understands how historical events are connected to the present.
SS 6.9.3  Understands major trends in Eurasia and Africa from 4000 to 1000 BCE

•    Knows areas of Eurasia and Africa where cities and dense farming populations appeared between 4000 and 1000 BCE, and understands the connection between the spread of agriculture and the acceleration of world population growth
•    Understands geographical features of Egypt and Kush (e.g., the locations of Egypt and Kush on the African continent and the geographic features that either assisted or hampered communication between these two kingdoms)

Students describe the physical features and climate of their respective location, and can locate their country in reference to other places or states. Also they identify the capital city. Finally, give the setting of your story – here, Colombia. 

Also, students analyze the 3R’s and brain storm ways to use them to solve problems in their African country, and here at home in Medellin. 

In addition, students are able to explain how ancient Africans adapted to their environment, how ethnocentrism has devastated African culture, and how they can use the geography to their advantage. 
The final checkpoint is to create a Photo Story and to talk about what you will do live a life of eco-consciousness and environmental sustainability, and how this will affect the economy and the society as a whole.

*Environmental sustainability
Students highlight the political climate of their country by investigating current events. Also, they
provide details about the country’s demographics: ethnicity, language, religion, political structure, customs, arts, etc. Consider these elements of YOUR story. 
In addition, students can explain with specific details the changes/effects that their civilization underwent during the Colonial Era. 
In addition, students research and generate ideas of ways to make our cities more socially sustainable, looking at contemporary examples. 
The final checkpoint is to create a Photo Story and to talk about what you will do live a life of citizenship and social sustainability, and how this will affect the economy and the environment as a whole.*Social sustainability
Students identify important natural resources, products and services in their modern day country, and in Colombia. Also, students complete a word map for the term, 
fair trade.  
In addition, students use the concept of supply and demand to explain how Colombia’s “supply” of unique geography creates demand for eco-tourism. 

In addition, students use the concept of supply and demand, and analyses to explain the current motivation for “free trade” and “foreign aid”, and examine how “fair trade” can solve these problems. 
The final checkpoint is to create a Photo Story and to talk about what you will do live a life of citizenship and social sustainability, and how this will affect the economy and the environment as a whole.

*Economic sustainability

5. Objectives: Write your objectives for student mastery clearly using the verbs of Bloom’s taxonomy such as analyze, create etc. 

  • Define the terms Fair Trade, Ecotourism, Free Trade and Foreign Aid
  • Describe the physical geography of your African country, and of Colombia. 
  • Describe the economy of your African country and of Colombia. 
  • Explain how Colombia can use its unique geography to create a more sustainable country. 
  • Analyze the 4 R’s and describe how they can use them to solve the environmental problems they identified.
  • Evaluate how Colombia can use its physical geography to create green energy. Evaluate the pros and cons of free trade/foreign aid. 
  • Create a photo story in which students synthesize the ideas of environmental, social and economic sustainability. 

6.  Have students discuss what they will be doing and describe what they will be learning in this unit.

After the entry event, we review the project overview and rubric. Then students engage in group discussions where they talk about the goal of the project and the content needed for their photo story (the final assessment).  

7.  How will you assess your students?
I will use the project rubric which aligns with the 9 formative assessments and digital story, summative assessment. I will assess students non-formally by walking around and giving feedback, and also formally by setting up a workshop where students will come for feedback.

8. Design all assessments prior to beginning instruction—this is the heart of backward design.   This has to be carefully thought out.

The project will cover three areas of social science: economy, geography and society. For reach of those areas, there will be three separate assignments, and each assignment will build on the previous, becoming more difficult as they approach the end of the unit, finally culminating in the final assessment piece where they will synthesize this knowledge to show how they are making the world a better place. Below is the list of formative assessments:


  1. 1) Students follow guided questions to learn about the physical geography of the African country they selected. Then they make inferences.  
  2. 2) Students make new inferences about the culture of their country based on its geography, they then watch videos about environmental problems in their country and explain how those problems can be helped by following the 4 R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle, refuse).  
  3.  3) Students watch a brief video about how ancient Africans built societies that were uniquely adapted to their environment and answer a critical thinking question. They then investigate how Colombia can use its own geography to its advantage and write a plan based on this knowledge.

Economy :

  1. 1) Students deduce the meaning and concept of the term “fair trade” by following guided questions and analyzing diagrams. They then create a “vocab map” for the term.  
  2. 2) Students investigate what are the main export of their African country, and of Colombia. They then learn the term “ecotourism” and write a plan of how Colombia could use its unique geography to create a more sustainable economy. They must use the concept of supply and demand in their response.  
  3. 3) Students read articles about free trade and foreign aid, and evaluate as to whether they are beneficial or harmful for developing countries like Colombia.


  1.  1) Students investigate the political climate of their African country and of Colombia, and then evaluate the “health” of the society based on a set of provided criteria.
  2.  2) Students investigate cities and societies famous for their innovation and write a plan of how Colombia could use some their greatest ideas  
  3. 3) Students reflect on their work throughout the project, writing a plan of how they will change their life based on what they’ve learned, and they answer the “How might me…” questions they created at the beginning. 

9. Design rubrics for your assessments for all of the concepts and standards you will be working on.  

10. Clearly work out and share your unit’s essential questions.

What will YOUR story be?
What environmental problems are we facing in Colombia, in the world?
How do our economies relate to our environmental problems in Colombia, in the world?
Why are some societies happier than others?
*also students produce their own essential questions using the Design Protocol. Their questions come after we have brainstormed various ecological problems. Their questions are intended to  lead to solutions for the problems we identified, and must begin with the stem, “How might we….”

11. If you are working on a problem or project based unit (both are known as PBL) design out your entry activity.
The entry level event is the students responding to a quote by Gandhi. “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.” Students must analyze the quote and give an example. This is done independently. Then we discuss their responses as a class. We then watch a video to the documentary Midway, which is intended to give a general overview of the problems we will be tackling in the project, as well as to create an emotional attachment in the students. 

12. If you are working on a PBL, clearly work out your statements of the problem to be solved. 

I have a list of the issues, however we begin by generating the ideas as a class. All year, and in various classes, the students have examined various ecological problems. I ask them to write down as many as they can remember and then we share them out loud. I write them on the board and require students to copy down any that they left off. 

13.  Plan your anticipated sequence of instruction for the unit.
First we begin with the entry level event. This creates an emotional connection and shows the overview of the project, its goals and concepts. We then identify environmental problems we are facing and generate questions that will lead us to solutions for these problems. We then move into the project “work.”
*refer to rubric above
WEEK 1 – we focus on Geography/Environment. All assessments this week revolve around concepts related to environmental sustainability, as students follow a guided research plan while investigating their African kingdom
WEEK 2 – we focus on Economy. All assessments this week revolve around concepts related to how our economies are causing the environmental problems we identified in week one, as students follow a guided research plan while investigating their African kingdom
WEEK 3 – we focus on Society. All assessments this week revolve around concepts related to how our can become more sustainable in order to create happiness, as students follow a guided research plan while investigating their African kingdom

14.  What will you have to differentiate?
Content:  students are presented with a list of African kingdoms and they are allowed to choose the one which is most interesting for them.
Product: each Photo Story is a personal account which is different for each student. Students write their own stories to present their learning from the project. 

15.  What needs have to be addressed?
Some students are “Low” to the extent they will need more individual attention. Also, I will need to be sure that students are able to use the proper software to create the photo story. For those who do not have the skillset, I will have an in class workshop. 

16.  Anticipate potential problems.

Some potential problems include the following: students in bad groups, cheating, internet failure, lack of knowledge to create photo story, difficulty for students that struggle

16. Check the level of rigor.

Based on my assessment of the work, I believe this project falls within “quadrant D” of the rigor/relevance framework. It is highly relevant as the students are expected to change their daily habits based on what they learn from their guided research, and it is rigorous as I constructed the formative assessments to climb the levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy, culminating with the final assessment piece. 

17.  What instructional tools do you need?

Rubric, laptop, projector, internet, Photo Story example, movie making software

18.   What vocabulary do you have to teach?

Fair trade
Free Trade
Foreign Aid
Renewable Energy

19. What 21ST Century Skills will you use?
-    Communication: students have to present their own Photo Story at the end of the project
-    Collaboration: students work with one partner to share information they compile while researching the African kingdom they choose
-    Critical thinking/rigor: the project is designed to climb Bloom’s taxonomy as they advance through each “checkpoint” of the guided research
-    Relevance : the true point of the project, as the students research their African kingdom, is to make connections to the present day and eventually create a plan of how to make their own personal life more sustainable…i.e. what can they do to help save our planet, our society! Also students are allowed to choose the civilization they wish to research.
-    Relationships: rapport is important between myself and the students. Also between the partners of the project.
-    Information, media and tech. skills: this is a multimedia project which requires students to utilize the internet for research, Google.drive to compile their information, and video making software to complete the assessment piece.

19.   If you are working on a PBL students will have to make a final presentation. Plan your audience.

My final audience will consist of various elementary classes, parents, administration and other middle school teachers.