This lesson is designed as an introductory activity for the course, within the first few days of school. Students will be asked to draw from memory a map of the world, noting any natural geographical features they remembers, including continents, mountains, deserts, rivers. They will also be asked to draw in whatever countries they remember.
Introduce students to various map projections that have been developed over the years. After studying the projections, students will compare them and discuss advantages/disadvantages of each. The point is to help them understand that much of our knowledge of world history is based on man-made definitions.
In the library: Students will use selected library materials, atlases, and web sites to take careful note of the geographic features of at least three civilizations. Teacher will insure that all sites are covered by at least some students. Their notes will include mountain ranges, valleys, fertility of soil, rivers, adjacent bodies of water, and topography
Students will read about ancient civilizations in selected sources - books, National Geographic magazines, web sites - to investigate factors that contributed to the early development of the civilizations. They will note geographic factors, and identify any others that seem to be important. Some expected findings: early political and/or religious leaders, early technological discoveries, nearby trading partners.
Students will discuss research materials found in Activity 5 in terms of how geography affected the development of these early civilizations. Next, students will discuss their ideas about how geography might affect modern world history/politics. Class discussion will be focused on two questions: how important was geogrpahy in shaping early civilizaitons? How important is geography in shaping the modern world? Students will be encouraged to think about where cities today are located and why.