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Africa
A 20-25 Day Unit Study for 2nd Quarter, 8th Grade, World Studies
by: John Wood

State Standards:
* The student will acquire skills of chronological thinking.
* The student will use maps and globes to demonstrate specific and increasingly complex geographic knowledge.
* The student will identify physical characteristics of places and use this knowledge to define regions, their relationships among regions, and their patterns of change.
* The student will use basic terminology describing basic physical and cultural features of continents studied.
* The student will demonstrate how various regional frameworks are used to analyze the variation in physical environment.
* The student will demonstrate how various regional frameworks are used to analyze the variation in culture and human occupation of the Earth’s surface.
* The student will give examples that demonstrate how people are connected to each other and the environment.
* The student will demonstrate knowledge of selected attributes and historical developments of various ancient societies in Africa.
* The student will describe classical civilizations in Africa.
* The student will examine changing forms of cross-cultural contact, conflict and cooperation that resulted from the interconnections between Eurasia, Africa and the Americas.
* The student will demonstrate knowledge of the rise of colonialism and its effects worldwide.
* The student will understand the importance of participation in civic life and demonstrate effective civic skills.

Enduring Understanding
Students will understand the role of geography, history, culture, biology, and economics in Africa's poverty and in Africa's hopes for the future.

Essential Question
Africa is the only continent that has grown poorer over the last three decades - why?
Why is Africa Poor?

Summative Assessment
1. Working in teams, students will develop a PowerPoint presentation that defines what they believe is the leading (choose only one) cause of Sub-Saharan Africa's poverty - and why - and make recommendations about what should be done about it.
2. Writing individually, each student will propose a three-point program to lift Africa from its poverty.

The Unit Questioning
What do students need to know to be able to complete high quality performances of understanding for the summative assessments?
What should this unit teach them?


The Learning Chunks that Will Prepare Students for the Summative Assessment:
1. How can Africa be viewed in regions geographically?
2. How is Africa changing geographically? How are humans involved? (National Geographic Human Footprint)
3. How can Africa be viewed in regions culturally? How is Africa changing culturally?
4. Is Africa poor? How do we know?
5. Going Deeper: Looking at specific nations
6. What are the effects of poverty in Africa? (NPR: Portraits of Poverty)
7. Was Africa always poor? What about in ancient times? What about in times before European contact? (Kate's unit)
8. Why were Europeans interested in Africa? What did they take from Africa? What did they leave behind? What is the legacy? (Kate's Simulation)
9. Why is Africa poor?
10. What can be done? (See Kiva.Org)
11. Summative Assessment Lesson
    -Groupwork
    -Presentations
    -Individual Work

Lesson 4: Is Africa Poor? How do we know?
In this lesson we will use 6 different readings to help students answer these questions.

As we do each “reading” in this lesson, we’ll ask:
(1) Is Africa poor? How do you know? Explain your thinking using evidence from the reading.
(2) Based on this text, create a journal entry or a drawing from a child who lives in Africa today. How would a child describe his/her life?
(3) What causes Africa’s poverty? How does the evidence of poverty indicate the causes of poverty? Explain your thinking using evidence from the reading.
After we’ve “read” from multiple sources in this lesson, we’ll ask:
(1) How do you know that Africa is poor?
(2) Of all of the kinds of information we looked at, what kind of information did you consider the most reliable? Why?
(3) Of all of the kinds of information we looked at, what kind of information was most convincing to you? Why?

READING A:
view    Material World

READING B:
view   Hungry Planet (NPR Article)
view   Hungry Planet (Amazon)

READING C:
view   Thematic Maps (Amazon)
view    State of the World Atlas (Amazon)
view   Interesting Cartogram
view   GIS Geography Mapping Resources

READING D:
view   The 2006 World Population Data Sheet (
See Infant Mortality Rate, Life Expectancy at Birth, Percent of Population Living Below (US)$2.00/Day)

READING E:
view   The 1004 and 2005 Human Development Reports
The human development index (HDI) is a composite index that measures the average achievements in a country in three basic dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life, as measured by life expectancy at birth; knowledge, as measured by the adult literacy rate and the combined gross enrolment ratio for primary, secondary and tertiary schools; and a decent standard of living, as measured by GDP per capita in purchasing power parity (PPP) US dollars. The HDI is calculated by the United Nations Development Programme.

READING F:
view   U.S. State Department Consular Information Sheet

See also:
website    Lonely Planet
website   Scholastic Article

Now you will write!
1. How do you know that Africa is poor?
2. Off all of the kinds of information we looked at, what kind of information did you consider the most reliable? Why?
3. Of all of the kinds of information we looked at, what kind of information was most convincing to you? Why?

Lesson 5: Going Deeper: Looking at Specific Nations

tIn this lesson students will read about specific nations from CultureGrams. See also: CIA World Factbook

As we do each "reading" in this lesson, we'll ask:
1. What is it like to live here? As a teen living in this nation, how would you describe your life to a visitor? Support your answer with evidence from the reading.
2. Imagine that you had visited this nation for two weeks as a tourist and that when you returned, a friend asked you, "What is it like there?" What would you tell your friend? Support your answer with evidence from the reading.
3. What are the three best things about life in this nation? Explain your thinking.
4. What are this nation's three biggest problems? Explain your thinking.

After we've read from multiple sources in this lesson, we'll ask:
1. What good things do these nations have in common?
2. Which nation seems to be in the best economic shape?
3. Which nation is in the worst economic shape?

Lesson 9: Why is Africa Poor?
We will read three articles that attempt to explain why Africa is poor.
website   Why is Africa Poor? From CBBC
website   Why is Africa Poor? From NPR
website    Why is Africa Poor? From The Nation

For each reading, we will fill out this graphic organizer:

Cause
How is it a cause? Briefly explain how that is possible.
What other causes is it connected to?


After the readings, we will fill out this graphic organizer:

Common Cause
How is it a cause? Briefly explain how that is possible.
What other causes is it connected to?


At the end of the lesson, students will answer the following lessons:
1. Rank the three most powerful causes of poverty in Africa. Explain your thinking and defend your choices.
2. What was the most interesting thing you learned today?