Teacher notes...

A Word History problem based
learning challenge



Millennium World's Fair Exposition Overview

This Problem Based Learning Internet lesson was designed to integrate student skills in technology, based on the National Technology Standards, with the California State Curriculum standards for 10th grade World History classes. The interdisciplinary unit can incorporate standards from the California Visual and Performing Arts Framework. For teachers with classroom, library or lab access to the Internet, this unit provides students with essential practice in Information Literacy skills. The unit has also been designed so that teachers, depending on band width and technology access at their schools, can modify assignments.

Problem based learning challenges students with authentic tasks in order to practice real life experiences and collaborate in teams to solve problems. The opening scenario for this lesson introduces the actual World's Fair, Expo 2000, which will take place in Hanover Germany in July 2000. This lesson can be modified, in subsequent years by changing the scenario to a fictional future World Exposition. Problem-solving and artistic creation by students can be focused around any number of scenarios which ask students to research a nation's challenges and present realistic solutions to those challenges in a multimedia, web based or poster presentation.

Standards & Goals


California State History-Social Science Content and Analysis Standards:

10.10 Students analyze instances of nation-building in the contemporary world in two of the following regions or countries: the Middle East, Africa, Mexico and other parts of Latin America, or China, in terms of:

1. challenges in the region, including its geopolitical, cultural, military, and economic significance and the international relationships in which it is involved
2. the recent history of the region, including the political divisions and systems, key leaders, religious issues, natural features, resources, and population patterns
3. the important trends in the region today and whether they appear to serve the cause of individual freedom and democracy

10.11 Students analyze the integration of countries into the world economy, and the information, technological and communications revolutions (e.g., television, satellites, computers)

National Education Technology Standards:

Routinely and efficiently use online information resources to meet needs for collaboration, research, publications, communications and productivity.

Select and apply technology tools for research, information analysis, problem-solving, and decision-making in content learning

Collaborate with peers, experts, and other to contribute to a content-related knowledge base by using technology to compile, synthesize, produce, and disseminate information, models and other creative works.

Visual Arts Goals:

Creative Expression Component: Students develop knowledge of and artistic skills in a variety of visual arts media and technical processes.

Historical and Cultural Context Component: Students explore the role of the visual arts in culture and human history.

The primary goal of this unit for World History classes is for students to develop an understanding of current world issues and relate them to their historical, geographic, political, economic and cultural contexts. The specific "Grade 10 World History Culture, and Geography: The Modern World" content standards for this goal as listed in the California Approved History-Social Science Standards are 10.10 and 10.11 (Listed on the left)

These are the last two standards in the World History curriculum and they are usually covered by teachers as the last unit in the class. These standards focus student study on development in non-European regions. Some teachers have traditionally included these standards in an "area study" approach.

In addition, completion of this unit provides students with practice in two of the California State Standards for Historical and Social Sciences analysis skills: grades 9-12.

  • Chronological and Spatial Thinking
  • Historical Interpretation


Including a technology component
A secondary goal of this lesson is to integrate technology standards into content learning. The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) through its National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) project has developed a set of educational technology foundation standards for students. Having students develop these skills in coordination with content areas instead of in isolation in a computer or technology class gives them compelling and real technological skills. This unit allows the teacher to focus students on technology productivity, communications, research, problem-solving and decision making tools. The specific National Education Technology Standards developed in this unit are listed on the left.

In preparing their virtual pavilion for the World's Fair students can use data base information from programs such as Apple Works, FileMaker Pro or Access. They can use multimedia presentation software such as PowerPoint, Hyperstudio, or Web page development software such a Claris Homepage, Front Page or Adobe Page Mill. They can use spread sheet or graphing applications such as Excel or Apple Works. This integration of technology skills can be done on a formal or informal basis. If students have access to these programs throughout the course, "mini-lessons" on how to use these applications can take place. Informally, some of your students may already be using these applications in other classes or at home and they can help their teams develop the virtual pavilion. If students do not have access to database, spreadsheet, word-processing or multimedia presentation software student pavilions can be built as a poster presentations.

When students use presentation tools either "low tech" poster presentation or technology based multimedia tools, goals from the California Visual and Performing Arts Framework can be incorporated into the lesson. As students search for and include "cultural artifacts" in their virtual pavilions they develop an understanding of the historical and cultural context for artistic creation. Students can explore the themes of visual arts in human culture and history. Specific Visual Art goals from the Framework are listed on the left.

Visual arts goals can best be accomplished in this unit if the history teacher is collaborating with the schools' art program or teachers. Technology education has been stressed in the California Visual and Performing Arts Framework. Arts educators are to offer student opportunities to use combinations of old and contemporary technologies for creative expression. Students can use principles of design, learned in art, and apply them to their presentations. Using graphic arts computer programs, students can focus their presentation and communications skills into developing pleasing and powerful presentations using electronic artistic mediums. Students creating poster boards can also enhance their presentations using traditional artistic methods.