Ancient Africa Unit Planner

(see finished project: block D, block E, block H)

Established Goals:

Social Studies Standard 1: Students will understand patterns of change and continuity, relationships between people and events through time, and various interpretations of those relationships.
  • Benchmark 1.2: Identify and use primary and secondary sources in historical research.
Social Studies Standard 3: Students will understand the concepts of geography and demography and how geography and demography influence and are influenced by human history.
  • Benchmark 3.7: Describe ways that human events have influenced, and been influenced by, physical and human geographic conditions in local, regional, national, and global settings.
Social Studies Standard 4: Students will understand cultural and intellectual developments and interactions among and within societies.
  • Benchmark 4.1: Understand ways that social and environmental factors and culture are related.
  • Benchmark 4.9: Identify patterns of social and cultural continuity in various societies and analyze ways in which people maintained traditions and resisted external challenges.
  • Benchmark 4.10: Draw inferences from archeological evidence.

IT Standard 1: Demonstrate a sound understanding of basic operations and concepts of technology systems.
  • Benchmark 1.2: Know how to evaluate, select, and use appropriate technology tools and information resources to design, plan, develop, and communicate content information appropriately, addressing the target audience and providing accurate citations for sources.
  • Benchmark 1.3: Know how to identify appropriate file formats for a variety of applications and apply utility programs to convert formats, as necessary, for effective use in Web, video, audio, graphic, presentation, word processing, database, publication, and spreadsheet applications.
IT Standard 4: Demonstrate competence in the use of technology communications tools
  • Benchmark 4.1: Know how to use telecommunications tools such as e-mail, discussion groups, and online collaborative environments to exchange data collected and learn curricular concepts by communicating with peers, experts, and other audiences.
  • Benchmark 4.2: Know how to use a variety of media and formats to design, develop, publish, and present products (e.g., presentations, newsletters, Web pages) that effectively communicate information and ideas about the curriculum to multiple audiences.
IT Standard 5: Demonstrate competence in the use of technology research tools
  • Benchmark 5.1: Know how to conduct an advanced search using Boolean logic and other sophisticated search functions; and know how to evaluate information from a variety of sources for accuracy, bias, appropriateness, and comprehensiveness.

Essential Understandings:

  • Students will understand how to evaluate and analyze primary and secondary sources.
  • Students will understand that communities are influenced by geography.
  • Students will understand how culture defines human identity.
  • Students will understand that they can find and communicate information with both a local and worldwide audience through the use of technology tools.

Essential Questions:

  • How can we find out about the world around us?
  • How does geography affect our lives?
  • Why do civilizations rise and fall?
  • How are civilization and culture related?
  • To what extent does culture change?
  • How does culture define us?
  • How can I use technology to effectively find appropriate information and communicate what I’ve learned?

Assessment Evidence:


Goal: Your task is to create an interactive, multimedia wikispace documenting the history and culture of sub-Saharan Africa from 500-1700CE
Role: You are archeological specialists in charge of researching sub-Saharan Africa
Audience: The world (via the Internet)!
Situation: You must collaborate together to produce an interactive, informative, technology-rich wikispace that is appropriate for middle school students around the world.
Product/Performance: To inform people around the world (including your parents and classmates) about the history of sub-Saharan Africa
Groups: Students will be assigned to large region groups (West Africa and Central and Southern Africa) and then jigsaw out to specific civilizations within those regions.
  • West Africa (Ghana, Mali, Songhai)
  • Central and Southern Africa (Congo Kingdom, Swahili costal trading states, Zimbabwe state)
Your wikispace must include:
  • Background information about the region, geography, culture
  • Timeline of your civilization
  • Detailed description of the civilization through the lens of the 5 themes of geography:
  • Place:
  • Human: government, architecture, economy, religions, communication, transportation, attitude, education
  • Physical: climate, soil, relative location, animal life, landforms, natural disasters
  • Location: map of region, continent and world
  • Environment: Resources (materials, food, tools, water, agriculture), Adaptation (clothing, technology, transportation, shelter, daily activities, diet), and Modifying (changing landscape, habitats, ecosystems)
  • Movement: communication, travel, transfer of goods around the world
  • Regions: Physical (landforms, location, soil, climate, vegetation) and Cultural (political system, economic, religious, linguistic, agricultural, industrial)
  • Images to describe the geography and culture of the region
  • External links to other useful websites
  • Proper citations

Other Evidence:

  • Use Flickr to geotag map of Africa with images and captions describing the specifics of their assigned region of Africa
  • Make a timeline of the development of your civilization for your GRASPS groupings
Explain Extension:
Flash animation charting the rise and fall of individual African nations
Interpret: Utilize digital resources to create multimedia presentations that visually represent aspects of African civilizations
Apply: Information Literacy:
  • Proper research techniques from various sources – collate research and compile works cited
  • Create RSS aggregator for news sources on ancient Africa
  • Create personal learning networks with students around the world learning about ancient Africa
  • Interpret: Students will analyze, synthesize and evaluate information that they researched to create a comprehensive wikispace (GRASPS task). Students will present information at an age appropriate level.
  • Write a journal reflection on your blog in the voice of a sub-Saharan African during the time period stated (each student writing from a different voice about the same issue). Comment on another student’s blog from your perspective to begin a role-play style dialogue with different members of the society.
Self-Knowldedge: Write a journal reflection on your blog describing how your new-formed knowledge has changed your perceptions about Africa. (develop writing prompt --> Use 3 facts that you learned to describe how they have influenced your understanding of Africa.
Perspective: After viewing the entire wikispace, write a journal reflection on your blog: Select a region that you did not study and compare it with your own. Pick out 2-3 aspects of each civilization and convince the class which civilization had the potential to be the most successful (putting aside the actual result).
Self-Knowledge: Students will write a journal reflection on their blog, discussing the experience of creating a wiki, how they can use the skills for other classes or for themselves, how this will change how they find and share information, and what they learned about finding reliable information online.