Teacher notes...

A Word History problem based
learning challenge




Lesson Sequence

Time Frame

This step by step lesson sequence is based on 50 minute periods that meet daily. The lessons can be adjusted for block or flexible schedules.

The time sequence can be condensed if students do the Internet and library research as homework. Also if a poster presentation model is used, time in class does not have to be allocated for creating the technology presentation (5 days). Building the multimedia or web based pavilion can be done in a computer lab or on home machines if students have access. The process of organizing and preparing the design of the pavilion can occur simultaneously with the content research.

The lesson can be taught at any time during the World History course, however, if the course is taught in sequence, this unit makes a nice culmination of World History activities at the end of the second semester.

Day 1



Group Assignment -one period

Assign your students, in groups of six, to a country from the Middle East, Africa, Mexico or other parts of Latin America. Assigning countries assures that all regions of the world are represented. If you have not had students work in groups you will need to spend more time on group process and perhaps provide some team building activities.


Day 2-6



Initial Research -five periods



Research should be done on an individual basis. You can either provide class time for research or have students complete the research at home. Library time also may be provided for this. If students are researching on the Internet, spend some time going over Information Literacy skills (see student learning advice) and give them a "web page" evaluation worksheet. Have students evaluate each web resource before they gather information from that site. Some good sites for information literacy information and worksheets are:

Depending on the size of your groups and how much time you have for this lesson, you may want to cut the list of following research areas, assign larger groups to each area, or assign several areas to each period you teach and have the presentations occur across the classes.

  • recent history of the region, including the political divisions and systems
  • key leaders
  • religious issues
  • natural features
  • resources
  • population patterns and ethnic divisions.

If you are incorporating technology into this unit have the student word process their notes embedding links into the word-processing program or use Simple Text (Macintosh) or Word Pad (Windows) so text can be easily converted into HTML or a Web page authoring program. Also, if possible, have students input their statistical data into spread sheets or data base programs.

As students are researching instruct them to collect "artifacts" from their county. They can gather pictures from web sites or collect pictures from books and magazines. Maps should also be collected or drawn by the students.

Go over copyright information with students. Some sites allow educators or students to use pictures as long as the project is used for educational purposes and not published. If your students are creating a Web exhibit which will be posted, copyright issues need to be closely monitored. Students may find that travel agencies or embassy sources will give them permission to use pictures which students can scan for their presentations or cut out and use in their poster presentations.


Day 7



Identifying Challenges -one period



In teams, students will be decision-making on the three most important issues in their country. Students will be defending their research within their teams and compromising to come up with three final issues or challenges that the country faces. Once the team has selected its challenges they need to brainstorm the answers to the questions:
  • What do we know about these selected challenges
  • What do we need to know about the selected challenges

It is from this list that they will divide up the research for the next step.

Day 8-10



Primary source research -three periods



In this second phase of research encourage your students to contact people who have primary resource information on the country. Your foreign language department may be able to help with this depending on the countries selected. There are also a number of resources on the web for e-pals. You may want to set this up prior to the introduction of the unit. ESL students, depending on the countries selected, may be able to help with communication in their native languages. Students can also e-mail the embassy (Yahoo has a nice listing @ ) or contact professors at universities who are experts on the region or country. "Live speakers" are also an excellent way for students to gather information. If you have access to teleconferencing equipment you may also be able to contact experts who cannot make the trip to your classroom. Students should prepare lists of questions centering on solving the countries challenges for their e-pals or experts.


Day 11-12



Action Plan -two periods



Together members of the team develop a position paper or an action plan on how those challenges can be met. Make sure they take the cultural perspectives of the country into account. They should be prepared to defend that plan when they give their "tour" of the pavilion or poster.


Day 13-17




Presentation Preparation -five periods





Have students use technology applications to prepare their pavilion. Each electronic pavilion should have three "screens" (if multimedia) or three pages (if web based). If you are using the "low tech" presentation method there should be three poster boards or three sections to each poster. Each screen corresponds to one of the major division Honor the Past (history information presented). Challenges (list of three major challenges) Future (how to solve those challenges). If you have teams of six and students have access to computers, each screen or web page should be developed by two students. If students are preparing a poster presentation make sure they have divided up the artistic tasks and materials. Students can also collaborate with the art teachers on the design of their presentations. Student then should prepare to give a virtual tour in front of the class of their pavilion. The class, acting as United States citizens question the challenges the team has presented.




Students will create the following
  • Notes and artifacts in the form of research on the country
  • Maps, charts and statistics display
  • Position paper or action plan
  • Multimedia, web based or poster presentation (pavilion)
  • Oral presentation or tour through their country
  • As individuals, ask challenging questions on democratic principles and human rights.
  • Bibliography with source evaluation for each source used