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The EquatorThe-Equator

  • Subject: Geography
  • |
  • Grade(s): 6-8
  • |
  • Duration: Three class periods

Lesson Plan Sections

Objectives


Students will understand the following:
1. Many different cultures live on the equator.
2. Articles in a given encyclopedia share elements such as organization and format.

Materials


For this lesson, you will need:
Reference material about Ecuador, Indonesia, Kenya, Brazil, and Singapore
Index cards for note taking and preparation of bibliography

Procedures


1. Send students on a research trek around the equator without their leaving the classroom (or the library). Tell them to break into groups that will each take a virtual tour of one of five countries on the equator: Ecuador, Indonesia, Kenya, Brazil, and Singapore. The purpose for their research is that One World Publishing Company has commissioned them to write the first entries of what will become The Encyclopedia of the Equator.
2. Ask students to tell you what the term encyclopedia brings to mind. Have them hone their understanding of the range of encyclopedias by sharing with them the following sampling of specialized encyclopedias, listed in a college-level writing textbook:
  • Cambridge Encyclopedia of Human Evolution
  • Education Encyclopedia
  • Encyclopedia of Banking and Finance
  • Encyclopedia of Crime and Justice
  • Encyclopedia of World Architecture
  • Harvard Encyclopedia of American Ethnic Groups
  • Reference Encyclopedia of the American Indian
3. As a group, brainstorm an outline for the writers of each encyclopedia article to follow so that each entry about a country in the encyclopedia will have the same sort of information in the same order. Here are some of the items that might appear on the class-generated outline, but the outline need not be limited to these topics:
  1. Geography of the country: longitude and latitude; size; height above sea level; advantages and disadvantages of being situated on the equator
  2. Population: birth and death statistics; major changes, if any; cultural groups and conflicts
  3. Climate: three hundred sixty-five identical days each year or variations?
  4. Economy: imports, exports; industries; currency and exchange rate in U.S. dollars
  5. History: changes over time
  6. Politics: form of government; stability of government
  7. Education: literacy statistics; average number of years of school per individual
  8. Health: diseases; access to medical services
  9. Tourist attractions
4. Now ask students to brainstorm the sources they can use to gather information. They may suggest the following:
  • Already published encyclopedias (print or online)
  • Books published for travelers
  • Embassies or consulate offices
  • Official Web sites (that is, those sponsored by governments or other credible organizations)
5. Review with students the basics of note taking. Remind students to avoid intentional or unintentional plagiarism, explaining that in the proposed Encyclopedia of the Equator they can summarize or paraphrase information from other sources but that they must identify the sources by means of parenthetical documentation and end-of-article bibliography.
6. You might (or might not) want to give students minimum and maximum word counts to write to as well as typing specifications so that all five articles will turn out looking the same.
7. Help students figure out if all members of a group will be writers or if one will function as an editor/proofreader. Another alternative is to assign one student from each group to an editorial board that will be responsible for writing an introduction to the encyclopedia after its members read each article.
8. After you have reviewed first drafts and each group has revised its article, have students work on a cover and a binding mechanism for these first articles of the Encyclopedia of the Equator.

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Adaptations


Extend the assignment by giving students one more topic to address in each of the encyclopedia articles—literature. Students must read and comment in their articles on at least one—ideally, several—pieces of literature (in English translation as necessary) from the country they are studying.

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Discussion Questions


1. Analyze how globalization began in equatorial regions. Explain the differences between the challenges faced by a country becoming globalized today and those of a country becoming globalized in the 1500s.
2. Discuss ways in which some traditional peoples resist complete assimilation. (Examples: peasant Indians of Ecuador; people of Nias, Indonesia; Kayapo Indians of Brazil.) Debate whether or not anti-assimilation is in the best interest of the world as a whole.
3. Explain how some traditional peoples successfully adapt to new ways and globalization. (Examples: Bogey of Sulawesi, Indonesia; people of Manaus, Brazil.)
4. Explain how new wealth and access to the world can be used to strengthen, enhance, and even create cultural traditions. (Examples: Toraja of Sulawesi, Indonesia; diverse people of Singapore.)
5. Everywhere traditional lives are under pressure. Discuss how and why some traditional peoples are brought into global trade markets while others maintain old ways. (Examples: Samburu of Kenya; Fang of Gabon.) Debate the purposes of cultural traditions in general.
6. Analyze how and why cultural change and adaptation are essential to human survival.

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Evaluation


You can evaluate your students' encyclopedia entries using the following three-point rubric:
 
Three points: comprehensive content, covering each heading on outline; coherent and unified writing; complete documentation; error-free grammar, usage, and mechanics
 
Two points: strong content, covering most headings on outline; coherent and unified writing; partial documentation; some errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics
 
One point: weak content with many headings from the outline missing; writing not coherent and unified; missing most documentation; many errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics
 
You can ask your students to contribute to the assessment rubric by defining coherent and unified writing.

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Extensions


The Electronic Version
Instead of submitting only manuscript, as in the project proper, students may opt to produce the encyclopedia in an electronic format, perhaps using PowerPoint or a similar program. Make sure, as with text, students give credit to the sources from which they gather visuals for an electronic encyclopedia.

Globalization
Have students concentrate their research on how the five countries—Ecuador, Indonesia, Kenya, Brazil, and Singapore—fit into the global economy of the 21st century. Which, if any of these nations, is considered a third-world country? Why? What inroads have been made and are planned to bring the five countries up to speed electronically? Which of these countries, would students say, is the most developed? How so?

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Suggested Readings


Following the Equator: A Journey Around the World
Mark Twain, Ecco Press, 1993
This recent edition of the Ecco Travels series features Mark Twain acting as narrator rather than as novelist in this full-length travel narrative. The work includes descriptions of visits to Australia and India.

The Sun: A Pictorial Introduction
P. Charbonneau and O.R. White
Studies of equator-oriented lands reveal the sun as the most common geographic component. This set of 20 slides offers an excellent series of scientific photographs and excellent narrative of various solar phenomena.
http://www.astropa.unipa.it/~orlando/INTRO_SUN/slides.html

Wings Around the World: The American World: Flight of 1924
K.C. Tessendorf, Athenum, 1991
This 1991 winner of the Joan G. Sugarman Outstanding Book Award describes for young people, with maps and illustrations, the challenges and tribulations of the pilots who pioneered around-the-world flights.

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Links


The Climate In Crisis
Available in English, Spanish, French and Portuguese, students can correlate the climate of the countries mentioned in "Flight Over The Equator" with what they have learned in the video.

Kenyaweb
Educators teaching a unit on Kenya can concentrate on the following links: land, people, and history. There are clickable maps of all the regions of the country with excellent physical descriptions.

Topographical map of the country


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Vocabulary


Click on any of the vocabulary words below to hear them pronounced and used in a sentence.

speaker    globalization
Definition: The process of making something global or worldwide in scope or application.
Context: Outside influence, globalization, had begun.

speaker    animism
Definition: The belief in the existence of spiritual beings that are separable or separate from bodies.
Context: While the Indians accepted the Christian ceremonies, they continued to practice traditional forms of animism, worshipping the spirits that exist in nature.

speaker    archipelago
Definition: A large group of islands.
Context: An island, just one more in an entire archipelago once owned by the Dutch.

speaker    conquistador
Definition: A conqueror, especially one of the 16th-century Spanish soldiers who defeated the Indian civilizations of Mexico, Central America or Peru.
Context: Now, over a thousand miles from the sea, new armies of conquistadors forge their way up the River Negro, still seeking their fortunes.

speaker    amalgamate
Definition: To combine into a unified or integrated whole.
Context: The diverse people and cultures that made up Singapore were amalgamated by official government decree and proclaimed from the rooftops.

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Standards


This lesson plan may be used to address the academic standards listed below. These standards are drawn from Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education: 2nd Edition and have been provided courtesy of theMid-continent Research for Education and Learningin Aurora, Colorado.
 
Grade level: 6-8
Subject area: geography
Standard:
Understands the physical and human characteristics of place.
Benchmarks:
Knows the human characteristics of places (e.g., cultural characteristics such as religion, language, politics, technology, family structure, gender; population characteristics; land uses; levels of development).

Grade level: 9-12
Subject area: geography
Standard:
Understands the physical and human characteristics of place.
Benchmarks:
Knows how social, cultural and economic processes shape the features of places (e.g., resource use, belief systems, modes of transportation and communication, major technological changes such as the agricultural and industrial revolutions, population growth and urbanization).

Grade level: 6-8
Subject area: geography
Standard:
Understands the nature and complexity of Earth's cultural mosaics.
Benchmarks:
Knows ways in which communities reflect the cultural background of their inhabitants (e.g., distinctive building styles, billboards in Spanish, foreign-language advertisements in newspapers).

Grade level: 9-12
Subject area: geography
Standard:
Understands the nature and complexity of Earth's cultural mosaics.
Benchmarks:
Knows how cultures influence the characteristics of regions (e.g., level of technological achievement, cultural traditions, social institutions).

Grade level: 6-8
Subject area: geography
Standard:
Understands the patterns and networks of economic interdependence on Earth's surface.
Benchmarks:
Understands the primary geographic causes for world trade (e.g., the theory of comparative advantage that explains trade advantages associated with Hong Kong-made consumer goods, Chinese textiles or Jamaican sugar; countries that export mostly raw materials and import mostly fuels and manufactured goods).

Grade level: 9-12
Subject area: geography
Standard:
Understands the patterns and networks of economic interdependence on Earth's surface.
Benchmarks:
Understands the historical movement patterns of people and goods and their relationships to economic activity (e.g., spatial patterns of early trade routes in the era of sailing ships, land-use patterns that resulted in a system of monoculture).

Grade level: 6-8
Subject area: world history
Standard:
Understands the promises and paradoxes of the second half of the 20th century.
Benchmarks:
Understands factors that contributed to the rise of a global economy (e.g., why economic disparities between industrialized nations have persisted or increased, and problems that have hindered industrialization in developing countries; events that have affected world oil prices since 1950, and how these events reflect the extent and complexity of global economic interdependence; why and how economic partnerships such as the European Economic Community [EEC] have been created).

Grade level: 9-12
Subject area: world history
Standard:
Understands the promises and paradoxes of the second half of the 20th century.
Benchmarks:
Understands rates of economic development, and the emergence of different economic systems around the globe (e.g., systems of economic management in communist and capitalist countries, as well as the global impact of multinational corporations; patterns of inward, outward, and internal migration in the Middle East and North Africa, types of jobs involved, and the impact of the patterns upon national economies; the rapid economic development of East Asian countries in the late 20th century, and the relatively slow development of Sub-Saharan African countries).

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Credit


Lara Maupin, history teacher, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Alexandria, Virginia.

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