History comes to life, as students in this unit have a chance to both be historical figures and to cross-examine these historical figures about motives and results of well-known explorations that have affected the European influence in Canada and North America. Students will use the Internet to conduct research. They will prepare maps, artifacts and costumes; present characters and interview others; chronicle events with digital cameras; and create a newspaper about the experience. Students will actively use skills developed through co-operative learning and role-playing. Second language learners have authentic opportunities to use both written and oral French and/or English.
Subjects: Languages, Language Arts, Social Studies
Learning Levels: Grades 7-9
Author(s): Jennifer DesLauriers
is the real story behind the early explorers?
they driven by promises of fame and fortune or were there personal reasons
behind their voyages?
were the real costs and results of these trips?
it really worth it?
it be great to be able to ask them in person and let the world know the scoop?
will investigate historical questions from social, political, geographic, and
will use research techniques to find detailed information to make sense of
will role-play characters from history.
will gather information in a press-conference format, keeping notes and photos,
for use in creating a newspaper.
unit will be taught primarily in the classroom. Students will need access to
Internet-connected computers either in the classroom or in a computer lab.
Students should be assigned or should choose to work in small groups of 4 or 5
to facilitate access to the computers, roles in group work, and role-playing as
historical characters. In preparing the newspapers, each pair of students should
have at least one computer for word processing.
unit will begin with a whole class presentation, lecture, notes, and questions
to introduce basic information about explorers and their historical eras.
that, in small groups, students access the Internet to research more detailed
information; develop a press statement and reporters’ questions; create
costumes, props, and maps; and present their historical figures in a simulated
press conference. During the press conference, students not presenting will act
as reporters and photographers. Finally, again in their small groups, they will
use the information and images gathered to create a newspaper of all the events
unit will last from 6-8 weeks, with 45 min. classes once a day. Second language
learners will probably need the longer period of time.
is expected that prior to starting this unit, students are familiar with
a digital camera
the Internet in their language of choice
the authenticity of Internet sites, and
a word processor or similar publishing application to create a newspaper
pictures from a shared location into a newspaper project work folder
1: Introduction – Use this time period (about 8-10 classes) to introduce basic
information about the explorers in question to all students.
basic information such as:
explorer’s goals, country of origin, places visited, difficulties encountered,
and major experiences using notes, images, reference materials, maps, video and
other teacher located resources.
relevant vocabulary, terms, concepts, issues, timelines, maps and any primary
documents or initial research materials associated with exploration and
explorers to ensure that each student has an understanding of the chronology,
geography, and economics of the early exploration.
second language learners, it would be helpful to provide and review a series of
guiding questions and answers orally. I have interspersed quick quizzes or
jeopardy type games to encourage retention of facts, keep interest peeked, and
practice second language production. This section could be a little dry, with a
lot of information being covered in a relatively short time if there are few
resources for the students to consult directly.
2: Group Organization and Research – Either select or allow students to
self-select to form groups of 4-5 male and female students, to delve into the
details, motivations, and results of one of the explorers covered in the
will work together to identify the major players, including the financial backer
of the exploration, someone opposed to the voyage, and other participants such
as family members, crew members involved in the exploration, and the
perspectives of Aboriginal people encountered.
group members will work together to research, through the Internet and other
available resources, background information, such as the economic, political and
social factors present in the world at the time (about 6-8 classes).
group will be responsible to create a press statement, at least 2 questions,
which reporters will ask, and the responses for each character. The reporters
will ask the questions to them.
group will require access to maps, artifacts, and costumes for use during the
press conference. Remind the students that any props should be time period
appropriate, e.g. Viking maps should not include Central America.
may need to be reminded to select appropriate Internet research terms and
engines in their language of choice, and strategies to evaluate the authenticity
of Internet sources. Regular evaluation of group learning and collaborative
processes by its members may also be helpful.
second language learners, it may be useful to provide sample questions for
reporters. See attached:
in French, Is it real? Group Evaluation, Sample Questions
3: The Press Conference – In chronological order, each group should have one
class to set up and present their explorer group (about 6-8 classes in total).
They will hand out their prepared questions to student reporters from the other
groups. Select from the reporters, certain students to be photographers.
Encourage them to take pictures of the artifacts and maps as well as the group
and players. The student reporters should also have questions of their own ready
to ask. After the group has read their prepared statement and answered prepared
questions, the rest of the students have the opportunity to “search out the
scandal”. It may be useful to keep track of participation. The teacher may
have to prod groups, rephrase questions, or assist students to encourage
participation especially if second language learners are reluctant. Remind
student reporters to keep notes for use in their news articles.
4: The Newspaper – The groups will each create their own newspapers covering
all the press conferences (about 6-8 classes). They should include photos taken
with captions, headlines and text. Two students can work together on articles
but all students should be sure to include their bylines with their articles.
The newspaper should have a front page and contents. Photos can be kept in a
sharable file for all students use. One student can keep the newspaper file and
the others send their articles there. Students should also feel free to add
puzzles, games, ads, and other features common to newspapers. When the paper is
set up, print it off. At the end of the project students should have the
opportunity to view and critique each other’s newspaper.
unit involves whole class instruction and presentation, as well as students
working in pairs and small groups of 4 or 5. The teacher should prepare handout
notes of information at the students’ reading level. It is worth taking some
time to engage the students in learning activities such as games and quizzes to
reinforce the content. Some of the unit lessons involve visiting designated web
sites and word processing. With Internet based activities, it is best to prepare
the sites you want students to visit beforehand. An html document with the
URL’s of sites to be used should be created and stored either on a
teacher/school website, or as a document on the individual workstations.
group will need access to an Internet connected computer with an appropriate web
browser and word processing program with columns and digital photo importing
capabilities. The class will also need several digital cameras.
such as AppleWorks Draw , PageMaker or Publisher are suitable newspaper and
will require teacher recommended web sites, teacher notes, and recommended
classroom or library materials selected by the teacher to support the particular