7th grade social studies
Medieval African Kingdoms
Teacher's Corner
Jamie Boston
Introduction
Standards
Objectives
Activities
Assessment 
Resources
.

 
 
 

Introduction
In this problem-based lesson students will become familiar with  the cultures of ancient Ghana, Mali and Songhay. They will create promotional tourist materials to encourage travel to these former empires.
Subject: Social Studies
Topic: Medieval Africa
Grade Level: 7th
Standards Addressed
California Social Studies Standards:
7.4 Students analyze the geographic, political, economic, religious, and social structures of the sub-Saharan civilizations of Ghana and Mali in Medieval Africa.

1.Study the Niger River and the relationship of vegetation zones of forest, savannah, and desert to trade in gold, salt, food, and slaves; and the growth of the Ghana and Mali empires.

2.Analyze the importance of family, labor specialization, and regional commerce in the development of states and cities in West Africa. 

3.Describe the role of the trans-Saharan caravan trade in the changing religious and cultural characteristics of West Africa and the influence of Islamic beliefs, ethics, and law. 

4.Trace the growth of the Arabic language in government, trade, and Islamic scholarship in West Africa. 

5.Describe the importance of written and oral traditions in the transmission of African history and culture. 

National Standards:
 World History:

  • Understands major global trends between 300 and 1000C
  • Understands the growth of states, towns, and trade in sub-Saharan Africa between the 11th and 15th centuries 
Historical Understanding:
  • Understands and knows how to analyze chronological relationships and patterns
  • Understands the historical perspective 
 Geography:
  • Understands the characteristics and uses of maps, globes, and other geographical tools and technologies 
  • Understands the concept of region 
  • Understands how geography is used to interpret the past 
 Language Arts: 
  • Demonstrates competence in the general skills and strategies of the writing process 
  • Demonstrates competence in the stylistic and rhetorical aspects of writing 
  •       Gathers and uses information for research purposes 
  •       Demonstrates competence in the general skills and strategies of the reading process 


 Technology: 

  • Students understand the ethical cultural and societal issues related to technology
  • Students use techology tools to enhance learning, increase productivity, and promote creativity
  • Students use technology to locate, evaluate, and collect information from a variety of sources.

 


Instructional Objectives
 

  • Examine the geography of West Africa 
  • Evaluate the geographic and political factors that made the kingdoms/empires  of West Africa great centers of trading 
  • Research an empire of Ancient Western Africa 
  • Identify the factors that made these empires great 
  • Assess the impact and economic significance of West African rulers' adoption of Islam 

Student Activities

Getting Started
 

Students will participate in a problem-based learning situation in which they are applying for a job with TimeWrinkle.com, a futurist company which can transport customers to any place and any time in history. Students will work in teams to create a promotional product (TV commercial, poster, PowerPoint slide show, etc.) that would promote travel to one of the ancient civilizations of Western Africa. Students will judge each others products to determine which team is "hired".

Have students begin by using a KWHL chart to record what they know about each of the West African Kingdoms. They should make one chart for each kingdom.  Help students make a brainstorm web showing ideas for information that a travel promotion might contain such as: major cities, political leaders, religion, education, the economy, or climate. 

Divide students into research teams. If possible, allow the team members divide up the tasks depending on how many people are on each team. For example, one person might be the historian who records information about the other two kingdoms. Another person might be in charge of collecting graphics, pictures, and other visual material for use in the project. An alternate way is to have the teams divided  into "experts" on the various aspects of the culture, such as religion, economy, and government. 
  

Activities

Day 1 through Day 5
Homework : Read pages 104-157 in your textbook, Across the Centuries.
Use your reading to fill in some of the gaps in your KWHL chart.
Using the resources listed on the materials page, collect information for your presentation. 

Day 6 through Day 8
Use your class time to work with your team in developing your presentation. 
  


 


Final
Each team will present a 10 minute travel promotion.  It can take the form of posters with a brief oral report, a powerpoint or video commercial, a travelogue, or any other form of presentation that you have cleared with your teacher. 
 

Days 9and 10
Teams will be given ten minutes to present their travel promotion. Rubrics will be filled out by classmates and the teacher. 

Assessment

Students will be assesed using a rubric. (Grading rubric)


Web Resources & Supplementary Materials

 Africa Overview:

African Voices
This Smithsonian site is wonderfully rich graphically and has a huge, well organized compiliation of resources on the history of Africa from ancient times to now. 

Ancient African Civilizations
This article describes the civilizations that flourished in Africa before the arrival of European colonial powers.

Multimedia Africa Archives
Here are pictures and maps of modern and historical Africa.

Timeline of African History to 1500
This is a timeline of West African History with links to supporting information.

Ghana:

Ghana Empire
The Ghana Empire lay in what is now southeastern Mauritania and
western Mali. Ghana empire was an important black trading state
in West Africa from about the A.D.  300's to the
mid-1000's.

Civilizations in Africa: Ghana
Although it originated in the late fourth century, Ghana only
became a major regional power near the end of the millenium.
Although the state was originally formed by Berbers, it was built
on the southern edge of Berber populations. Eventually the state
became dominated by the Soninke, a Mande speaking people living
in the region bordering the Sahara.

Mali Empire
Mali empire was a black empire that flourished in west Africa
from about 1240 to 1500. At its height, the Mali Empire controlled
most of what are now Gambia, Guinea, Mali, and Senegal, and parts
of  present-day Burkina Faso, Mauritania, and Niger.

Dogon People
According to oral tradition, the Dogon people of south-central
Mali originated near the headwaters of the Niger River.

Mansa Musa
Mansa Musa captured the attention of the Arab world when he left
his home in Mali to make a pilgrimage to Mecca in 1324.

Sundiata
Sundiata's forces killed Samanguru and destroyed his forces in
the Battle of Kirina in 1235.  Sundiata then became mansa, or
king of a new empire which we know today as Mali.

Annenburg/CPB Projects Exhbits Collection:Collapse of Empires
Explores the collapse of four ancient civilizations, including Mali and Songhai. 

Mali
This site includes a short history of Mali, information on its African neighbors, interactive tests, links, an art gallery, maps and links to Songhay.

Islamic History of Timbuktu
Description: Here is an extensive investigation into the Islamic legacy of this legendary African city. It includes information about many famous travelers who visited and wrote about Timbuktu. 

Mali and Songhai
Article on the decline of the kingdoms of Mali and Songhai, as well as the smaller kingdom of Ghana before them, were once great trading kingdoms famous for their gold. Yet despite their greatness, they each declined for similar reasons.
 

Ancient Mali
Mali Empire, empire in West Africa that rose to dominance in the 13th and 14th          centuries. The Mali Empire was the second and most extensive of the three great        successive empires, which included the Kingdom of Ghana and Songhai. The Mali      Empire served as a model of statecraft for later kingdoms long after its decline in the  15th and16th centuries.

Songhai:

Annenburg/CPB Projects Exhbits Collection:Collapse of Empires
Explores the collapse of four ancient civilizations, including Mali and Songhai. 

Songhai Empire
Songhai empire was a black trading state in Africa that reached
its peak during the 1400's and 1500's. Songhai  began during
the 700's, and by the 1400's had more power and wealth than any
other west African empire. It extended from the central area
of what is now Nigeria to the Atlantic coast and included parts
of what are now Burkina Faso, Gambia, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania,
Niger, and Senegal.

Mali and Songhai
Article on the decline of the kingdoms of Mali and Songhai, as well as the smaller kingdom of Ghana before them, were once great trading kingdoms famous for their gold. Yet despite their greatness, they each declined for similar reasons.

Saharan Trade: A Link Between Europe and Africa
This student created ThinkQuest describes the Saharan trade which extended from the Sub-Saharan West African kingdoms across the Sahara desert to Europe. The Saharan Trade linked such African empires as Ghana, Mali, and Songhay to the European world.

Songhai Empire
Here you will find a brief profile of the Songhai people and their rise to eminence between the 14th and 16th centuries.






Books:

Brooks, Larry. Daily Life in Ancient and Modern Timbuktu (Cities Through Time)
Runestone, 1999.

Conrad, David. The Songhay Empire (First Book). Watts, 1998

Green, Rebecca L.  The Empire of Ghana.  Watts, 1998.

Herr, Myra.  West Africa : Ghana (Ancient and Living Cultures).  Goodyear Pub Co., 1992.

Koslow, Philip.  Ancient Ghana : The Land of Gold. Chelsea House, 1995.

Koslow, Philip.  Centuries of Greatness : the West African Kingdoms, 750-1900. Chelsea House, 1995.

Koslow, Philip.  Songhay: the Empire Builders (The Kingdoms of Africa). Chelsea House, 1995.

McKissack, Patricia and Fredrick. The Royal Kingdoms of Ghana, Mali and Songhay : Life in Medieval Africa. Holt, 1995.

Thompson, Carol.  The Empire of Mali. Watts, 1998.
 
 

Culminating Activity
Each team will present a 10 minute travel promotion.  It can take the form of posters with a 
 brief oral report, a powerpoint or video commercial, a travelogue, or any other form of
presentation that has been cleared with the teacher.  Rubrics will be filled out by classmates and the teacher.  
            

The project must have a bibiliography which follows MLA style.  Students can use the following document to help them (MLA bibliography style sheet http://ctap295.ctaponline.org/~jboston/Student/MLA.html)or they can use Noodle Tools (http://www.noodletools.com) to format the bibliography. 
 
 

 

 
Jamie Boston
School: R. W. Emerson Junior High School/ Birch Lane Elementary School
School Location: 2121 Calaveras Ave./ 1600 Birch Lane, Davis, CA 95616
Email: jamieb@dcn.davis.ca.us
Last Revised: 03/13/06