Questions, Comments, or Corrections? Let us know!

Formative Assessment

Activity 1: Formative Assessment

Printable Student View

In your journal, respond to the following question:

  • Will students standing on the time line in the year 3000 be standing closer together or farther apart as the timeline continues to record significant events and changes in our history? Explain.

Create a PowerPoint using graphics to create a timeline of your life history. Compare it to the classroom timeline representing the last 40,000 years.

  • How much of the timeline does it take up?
  • How significant is your life in the course of world history? Write a paragraph in your journal commenting on this question.

Scoring Guide

Skills and Best Practices

Activity 1: Skills and Best Practices

Using Drawings and Photographs to Teach Social Studies

The best way to teach social studies is take students to the sites you are talking about. For example, no one can truly say they understand the vastness and uniqueness of Alaska until they have visited Alaska. However, since this is not practical for most of our students, the use of the pictures is a necessary substitute. Fortunately, the Internet has become a wonderful source of graphic material for most of the units we teach.

Using Pictures in Lessons:

Using Timelines to Teach Social Studies

The site below provides a unique way of using a time line to make comparisons. For example, the following themes in world history are compared from 1900 to the Present to illustrate the sweeping changes that have occurred since 1900.

By making quick comparisons between 1900 and today, students can see the breadth of change over time. In addition, students can take a snapshot of significant people and events that impacted the last 100 years. For example, they can analyze:

  • Leaders and revolutionaries
  • Artists and entertainers
  • Builders and titans
  • Scientists and thinkers
  • Heroes and icons
  • The person of the century

Activity 2

Activity 2

Essential Question

Where did agricultural communities arise and how did their development lead to the rise of complex societies?


The transition to an agrarian lifestyle occurred gradually over a period of thousands of years. Humans did not suddenly decide one day to give up hunting and gathering and begin to farm. Humans had to have a compelling reason to give up a way of life that had worked so well for roughly 32,000 years.

Typical agrarian lifestyle in Southeast Asia

The shift to agriculture began in areas where hunting and gathering could no longer sustain populations because those populations were growing faster than available resources and/or because resources were declining as a result of a changing environment. Oddly, the regions where agriculture first appeared were not in environments that would seem to easily lend themselves to growing crops. Catal Huyuk, Jericho, and other early settlements in Southwest Asia were all located in challenging environments. Other early agrarian communities elsewhere in the world had similarly challenging environments.

Instructional Strategies

Strategy 1

Gathering Information: Using Climate Maps as a Source of Information

Have the students visit the following website. Give them sufficient time to investigate the site and try out some of the links.

Use the following questions to establish a purpose for the activity and to guide students to more in-depth information:

Printable Student View

  1. What kind of information do climate maps give us?
  2. What is this information used for?
  3. What predictions can we make about how people live based on the information we get from climate maps?

Have the students work in small groups to analyze several of the climate maps. Ask each group to make predictions about areas of the world were favorable to the emergence of early civilizations. Put these predictions on the board or chart paper.

Have students confirm their predictions by reading in their textbooks about the emergence of the first civilizations

  • Mesopotamia
  • Egypt
  • The Indus River Valley

Have them visit this website to find additional information

Have the students make a chart summarizing the information they have gathered.

Printable Student View

Area of the WorldClimateObstacles they had to Overcome






The Indus River Valley



Strategy 2

Extending and Refining Information: Concept of Collective Learning

Conduct a demonstration to illustrate the concept of collective learning.

  • Select two students from the class to assist with the demonstration.
  • Give one a peanut. Explain to the other that she/he must pretend no knowledge of peanuts, not knowing that peanuts are edible or that they must be opened to get the food.
  • Tell the student with the peanut that his/her task is to explain the nature of the peanut to the student with no knowledge. The only restriction to the explanation is that it must be done without talking.
  • Ask the student with no knowledge to confirm that she/he understood the message conveyed by the first student.

Repeat the demonstration. Again, the student with no knowledge is to pretend to know nothing of peanuts and the explainer must convey the nature of a peanut to the other student without talking. This time, however, do not give the explainer a peanut with which to demonstrate.

Ask the two students to describe how they felt during the demonstration.

  • What frustrations did they feel?
  • Were you able to communicate?
  • Why would the task have been easier if you had been able to communicate orally?
  • Are animals able to communicate? Is it easy for them to communicate with us?

Explain the Concept of Collective Learning.

  • The ability to communicate through spoken language makes humans unique.
  • Humans can describe things that are not present, explain abstract concepts, and discuss the past and future.
  • Humans have the ability to share and accumulate knowledge over time. This ability is called collective learning.
  • In human communities, if one member of the community comes up with a new idea or invents something useful, all members will learn of it and that knowledge can be passed to later generations.
  • The larger the community, the more collective learning will take place, since a larger community will have a larger pool of knowledge, ideas, and experience from which to draw and learn.

Strategy 3


Have the students apply what they have learned about early communities by using the concept of collective learning to think about the following questions:

Printable Student View

  1. How did the ability to communicate accelerate the agricultural revolution? What processes would have been impossible without this ability?
  2. Are you able to compare and contrast this revolution with the technology revolution we are now in the midst of? How is comparing and contrasting an example of the concept of collective learning?
  3. How is your reading assignment and your website assignment an example of the concept?

Share one new idea you learned about early civilizations with your group. Explain it carefully so that you are sure they understand it and can pass it on to others.

Join your group with another group and talk about what you have learned so far about early civilizations. How is adding more people to the group an example of collective learning?

Activity 1

Activity 1

Essential Question

Why have civilizations changed slowly over time with more rapid changes occurring during the modern era?

Background Information

Modern humans appeared about 40,000 years ago. They lived successfully in small nomadic hunting and gathering bands until around 10,000 years ago when agriculture began to gradually replace hunting and gathering as the dominant way of life.
The rise of agriculture allowed for the 
development of more complex societies

The transition to agriculture was a critical trigger for the development of more complex societies since it allowed people to establish permanent settlements and live together in far greater numbers than ever before.

Instructional Strategies

Strategy 1

Gathering Information: Using Pictures and Pictographs

Use the following website to give students an understanding of the slow pace of change prior to the emergence of modern Homo sapiens about 40,000 years ago.

Talk with students about the importance of gathering information about a topic prior to drawing conclusions. Use the KWL Chart to record what you already know about prehistoric people.

Printable Student View

KWL Chart

What I know




What I want to know




What I learned from the pictures




Use the following website to show students pictures about hunting and gathering civilizations. Use the guide questions to ensure that students get as much information from the pictures as possible.

Guide Questions: The U. S. National Archives and Records Administration suggests three steps to help students analyze photographs.

Step 1: Observation

  • Overall impressions
  • Details in each section of the photo (people, objects, activities)

Step 2: Inference

  • What can you infer from the photograph?

Step 3: Questions

  • What questions does the photo raise in your mind?
  • Where could you find answers to your questions?

The National Archives also offers a Photo Analysis Worksheet on their website.

Ask students to look more carefully at the pictures and draw inferences from what they see.

  • What can you infer from what you see in the pictures?
  • Why are these logical inferences?

Have students refer back to their KWL chart.

  • What information is confirmed by the pictures?
  • What information is challenged by the pictures?

Now have the students go to the Internet to collect a group of their own images of historical and modern hunters and gathers using such key words as:

  • Hunter/gatherer
  • Prehistoric people
  • Bushmen
  • Aborigines
  • Pygmies/Itruri Forest People
  • Native Americans
  • Foragers

Have students review the guide questions for analyzing pictures. Have them use these strategies as they examine their own set of images. Ask more specific questions to help students see the relationships among the pictures:

  • What do all these pictures seem to have in common?
  • In what parts of the world do the people in these pictures live?
  • In what time period do you think they live?
  • What kind of clothing do you observe these people wearing? Why do you think they wear this type of clothing?
  • In what kind of homes do you think these people live?
  • What do you think these people do for a living?
  • What kinds of foods do you think they eat?
  • What kinds of transportation do you think they use?
  • Would you want to live a similar lifestyle to these people? Why or why not?

Using the new information gained from the discussion, have students go back to their KWL chart and fill in what they have learned.

Check for Understanding

Use the essential question to determine how much student thinking has expanded?

  • Why have civilizations changed slowly over time with more rapid changes occurring during the modern era?

Strategy 2

Extending and Refining Information: Using Timelines and Video Clips

Create a timeline of human history that spans 40,000 years. This can be done in a variety of ways.

  • Marked adding machine tape or rope can be stretched out to illustrate the time span.
  • A very long hallway can be used with the tiles on the floor representing intervals of time.
  • An athletic field with yard markings may be used in the same way.

Position students at points representing the beginning of the timeline (40,000 B.P.), the transition to agriculture (10,000 B.P.), and today. Talk about the relative distances of the students.

Use the Internet or the textbook to look for examples of completed timelines. For example, students could print out the timelines from the following site for use in this activity:

Ask students to look for events on the timelines that they think were as important as the transition to agriculture in 10,000 B. C. Use a timeline such as this one to record five events you think are as important as the agricultural revolution:

List all events on chart paper and after class discussion, have the students star the top five events. Extend student thinking about the magnitude of the agricultural revolution by asking the following questions:

  • Why do you think these events are equal in importance to the agriculture revolution?
  • What changes occurred as a result of these “revolutions”?
  • Why are these events closer together on the time line?

Use the timeline to help students scaffold their thinking. Begin with factual questions then extend and refine their thinking to encourage higher levels of thinking. For example:

  • For how much of history did humans spent as hunter gatherers?
  • Why did humans maintain this way of life for so long?
  • When humans transition to agriculture as a way of life, what happens to the pace of events on the timeline?
  • What do you think accounts for the change in the pace of events?

Check for Understanding

Students should discuss these essential questions:

  • Can change happen too quickly?
  • What are some of the problems associated with rapid change?
  • Is society becoming too complex?

Strategy 3

Application: Transfer

Have students review their KWL Charts and their notes. Discuss the rapid change in society after 10,000 B. C.

Have students predict the next event on the timeline which could be considered a revolutionary change, altering the way people live. Use these questions to help you predict what life might be like after your next event on the timeline.

Printable Student View

  • What technologies might drive the next revolution?
  • In what parts of the world will these technologies be most evident?
  • What kind of clothing do you observe these people wearing? Why do you think they wear this type of clothing?
  • In what kind of homes do you think these people live?
  • What do you think these people do for a living?
  • What kinds of foods do you think they eat?
  • What kinds of transportation do you think they use?
  • Would you want to live a similar lifestyle to these people? Why or why not?

Check for Understanding

Summarize this discussion by having students write an essay about what life might be like in this new era. Have them decide if life will be better in this era and to support their decision with information from the class discussion. Before they begin to write, review these thought questions with them:

  • Can change happen too quickly?
  • What are some of the problems associated with rapid change?
  • Is society becoming too complex?

Activity 4: Formative Assessment


Printable Student View

  1. On which continents of the world is child labor most common?

    1. North and South America
    2. South America and Asia
    3. Africa and Europe
    4. North America and Asia
  2. Which demand was not mde by reformers in the United States in the 1800’s?

    1. Higher wages
    2. Better health care
    3. More education for children
    4. Children’s right to work
  3. What are the common abuses of child labor that you read about in the documents?
  4. In what ways can children of the world be actively involved in improving the working conditions for children?

Scoring Guide

Skills and Best Practices

Activity 4: Skills and Best Practices

Demonstrating Understanding

Teaching requires that teachers “close the loop”. The act of teaching is never complete until students can demonstrate that they can apply the content that they have leaned in the classroom to a real-life situation. Models for raising the level of student thinking are based on the notion that students begin at the knowledge level and move from one level of thinking to another until they reach the application level and beyond. Every teaching unit must include opportunities for students to move from one level of thinking to another. Bloom’s Taxonomy still remains the model for all hierarchical arrangements to promote student thinking. This site will also provide information on the following topics:

  • What is higher-order thinking?
  • Questions that invite higher-order thinking
  • Approaches to teaching higher-order thinking
  • Writing to promote higher-order thinking
  • Sources of more information

The Constructivist Classroom

Understanding by Design discusses understanding as the ability to demonstrate the following qualities:

  • Explanation
  • Interpretation
  • Application
  • Perspective
  • Empathy
  • Self-knowledge

This activity provides the opportunity for students to develop empathy with children around the world who are still feeling the effects of abusive child labor practices.

Activities for the Constructivist Classroom argues that reforms in social studies must become more constructivist, involving students in critical thinking, problem solving, and decision making. An effective way of doing this is to incorporate technology into the social-studies classroom. Suggestions elaborated on include:

  • News broadcasts
  • Internet field trips
  • Traveling through foreign countries via the Internet
  • State web pages
  • Developing a database

Activity 4

Activity 4

Essential Question

How can the quality of working conditions for children be improved in countries that still use child labor?


In the early 21st century, child labor remains a serious problem in many parts of the world. Studies carried out in 1979, the International Year of the Child, show that more than 50 million children below the age of 15 were working in various jobs often under hazardous conditions. Many of these children live in underdeveloped countries in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Their living conditions are crude and the chances for education minimal. The meager income they bring in, however, is necessary for the survival of their families. Frequently, these families lack the basic necessities of life- adequate food, decent clothing and shelter, and even water for bathing.

Bolivian children earn a meager living – edited from United Nations Website

Instructional Strategies

Strategy 1

Mapping Children’s Organizations in Asia

Read and discuss the following passage about the problem of child labor in the 21st century.

Printable Student View

In some countries industrialization has created working conditions for children that rival the worst features of the 19th-century factories and mines. In India, for example some 20,000 children work 16-hour days in match factories.

Child labor problems are not, of course, limited to developing nations. They occur wherever poverty exists in Europe and the United States. The most important efforts to eliminate child labor abuses throughout the world come from the International Labor Organization (ILO) founded in 1919 and now a special agency of the United Nations. The organizations argues for:

  • A minimum age of 16 years for admission to all work
  • A higher minimum age for more dangerous jobs
  • Compulsory medical examinations
  • Regulation of night work
  • Elimination of slavery and debt bondage and forced military service

However, these are only voluntary measures. The organization does not have the power to enforce its regulations.

Mapping Children’s Organizations in Asia

  • Visit a website which provides information about child labor in other parts of the world. For example: Children’s Organizations in Asia
  • Visit the Encarta mapping site or a similar one to locate the countries where these organizations exist.
  • Continue your websearch by using the names of the countries as keywords to find more information about each of the countries you have located. Limit your research on these countries to: population, social conditions, health care, education, state of industrial development
  • Analyze the demands from children in other parts of the world. For example consider the Child Workers’ Petition.


Check for Understanding

Printable Student View
  1. What are the similarities in living and working conditions between these countries and the living conditions in the United States in the 1800s?
  2. What other areas of the world would you predict might have similar concerns about child labor?
  3. What concerns about child labor seem to be universal?
  4. What is one major difference in the demands of children today as opposed to the demands from reformers in the United States during the 1800s?

Scoring Guide


Strategy 2

Mapping Activity

Use your markable world map or use yarn to connect the United States to other parts of the world that students find are having concerns about child labor. Keep adding to these connections as students identify new areas of the world including areas in the United States where child labor is a concern. Talk about how we in the United States may think about how people in these areas of the world live? Ask them if our perceptions of other people are always accurate? Ask them how people of the world are connected, i.e., how buying an inexpensive pair of shoes may be the result of child labor in Asia? Refer to the unit questions on the board or the chart paper and discuss:

Check for Understanding

Printable Student View

Have students write a paragraph on each of these questions for use in doing the performance assessment.

  1. Why are children in other countries of the world now being exposed to some of the same conditions that once existed in the United States?
  2. What can be done to improve the lives of children in these other countries?

Strategy 3

Compare and Contrast

As students do their web searches, using a compare and contrast chart to record the information. Compare and contrast the information they are finding to conditions in the United States in the 1800s. For example, a simple compare and contrast chart may look like this:

Printable Student View

Compare and Contrast Chart
 How Alike?How Different?

Strategy 4

Problem Solving

As students do their research, have them pay particular attention to the role of children around the world in advocating for improvements in the working conditions for children. Talk about why these organizations feel that it is important for children to be involved in the movement including:

  • Children have ideas that are important and creative
  • Children are directly involved in the problem
  • Children have impacted progress in other areas of the world
  • Children can develop their own potential and talents by being involved
  • Children need to be heard
  • Children need to build positive relationships with adults
  • The collective efforts of children is a positive force for good

Talk about how children in the United States could help by being involved in helping children in other parts of the world. Make a list of what they might do as a class and as individuals to help improve working conditions for children in other parts of the world. Have them keep this list in their notebooks for use with the performance assessment.

Skills and Best Practices

Activity 3: Skills and Best Practices

The Jigsaw Classroom

Cooperative learning strategies are important tools in the teacher’s instructional bag of tricks. Jigsaw is just one of these strategies. The jigsaw classroom provides you with all the information you will need to implement this strategy in your classroom.

  • Overview of the technique
  • History of the jigsaw classroom
  • Jigsaw in 10 easy steps
  • Tips on implementation
  • Suggested books and articles

Trends in Social Studies

There are three important trends in social studies. (A link to more information regarding the trends needs to be added.)

  • Trend 1: History, History, and More History
  • Trend 3: Using Literature to Teach Social Studies
  • Trend 10: Writing, Writing, and more Writing

This activity provides you with the opportunity to provide experiences for your students in each of these areas.

Political Cartoons

Select a cartoon from a daily newspaper and use the attached worksheet to model how to analyze a cartoon. Be sure students take the cartoon analysis worksheet with them when they go to their expert group.

Printable Student View

U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
Cartoon Analysis Worksheet

Level 1


Words (not all cartoons include words)

  1. List the objects or people you see in the cartoon.
  1. Identify the cartoon caption and/or title.
  2. Locate three words or phrases used by the cartoonist to identify objects or people within the cartoon.
  3. Record any important dates or numbers that appear in the cartoon.

Level 2



  1. Which of the objects on your list are symbols?
  2. What do you think each symbol means?
  1. Which words or phrases in the cartoon appear to be the most significant? Why do you think so?
  2. List adjectives that describe the emotions portrayed in the cartoon.

Level 3

  1. Describe the action taking place in the cartoon.
  2. Explain how the words in the cartoon clarify the symbols.
  3. Explain the message of the cartoon.
  4. What special interest groups would agree/disagree with the cartoon’s message? Why?

Activity 2: Skills and Best Practices

Using Pictures and Drawings to Teach Social Studies

The use of pictures in helping students understand a concept is connected to the research on brain compatible teaching. For example, Corn Associates incorporate the following strategies into their training programs. Brain compatible teaching strategies include:

  • Beginning a lesson with a focus on a core concept connected to student’s prior knowledge
  • Creating meaning by using fictional and informational literature and interdisciplinary teaching.
  • Asking higher order questions that require students to apply, compare, create, predict, and judge information.
  • Using visualizations such a drawings, sketches, pictures, charts, guided imagery, and metaphors.

All of these strategies are essential components of this module.

Using Photographs to Teach Social Studies

The U. S. National Archives and Records Administration suggests three steps to help students analyze photographs.

Step I: Observation

  • Overall impressions
  • Details in each section of the photo (people, objects, activities)

Step II: Inference

  • What can you infer from the photograph?

Step III: Questions

  • What questions does the photo raise in your mind?
  • Where could you find answers to your questions?

They also offer a Photo Analysis Worksheet on their website.

Graphic Organizers

Graphic organizers are valuable instructional tools. Unlike many tools that just have one purpose, graphic organizers are flexible and endless in application. One common trait found among graphic organizers is that they show the order and completeness of a student’s thought process – strengths and weaknesses of understanding become clearly evident. Many graphic organizers show different aspects of an issue/problem – in close and also big picture. Since many graphic organizers use short words or phrases, they are ideal for many types of learners, including English Language Learners with intermediate proficiency.

Although five main types of organizers are mentioned in this piece, many others exist, or will soon be created.

This site will provide some excellent examples of graphic organizers.

Problem-Based Learning

One of the goals of social studies is the creation of students who are effective problem solvers. Information is of little importance to students unless they are able to use that information to solve problems and make decisions. Problem-Based Learning, a curriculum development and delivery system, recognizes the need to develop these skills in children. This site focuses on these key areas:

  • Problems drive the curriculum
  • Problems do not have only one solution
  • Students solve the problems
  • There is no one approach to a problem

Performance-based assessment is an integral part of the process.

Skills and Best Practices

Activity 1: Skills and Best Practices


Adam Blatner in his article, “Role-Playing in Education” says that:

Role-playing is a methodology derived from sociodrama that may be used to help students understand the more subtle aspects of literature, social studies, and even some aspects of science or mathematics. Further, it can help them become more interested and involved, not only learning about the material, but learning also to integrate the knowledge in action, by addressing problems, exploring alternatives, and seeking novel and creative solutions. Role-playing is the best way to develop the skills of initiative, communication, problem-solving, self-awareness, and working cooperatively in teams, and these are above all–certainly above the learning of mere facts, many if not most of which will be obsolete or irrelevant in a few years–will help these young people be prepared for dealing with the challenges of the 21stCentury.

In this article he also describes:

  • Role-Playing as Simulation
  • Historical Background
  • Problems with Role-Playing
  • Role-Playing and Drama in Education
  • Future Implications of Role-Playing


Concept Mapping

Concept mapping can be done in a variety of ways. The Learning Skills Program suggests writing the main idea in the center of the page – it may be a word, a phrase, or a couple of juxtaposed ideas- then place related ideas on branches that radiate from this central idea.

Visit this site to learn:

  • How to do a Map
  • Some Organizational Patterns That May Appear in a Concept Map
  • Advantages of Mapping
  • Uses of Mapping

Teaching Concepts

Visit the Michigan State Department of Education Website for a discussion of how to use concepts in teaching. They note that it is important to use the language of the standards in your teaching. Likewise, when trying to teach a concept it is important to use the language associated with that concept. 
Note: this site is referenced under the curriculum area of social studies standards.

Using the KWLH Strategy

The KWL strategy developed by Donna Ogle, is a good method to activate prior knowledge and to help students organize information for learning. However, many teachers use the KWLHversion, which puts a special emphasis on how we can learn more from other sources of information. Reminder:

  • K – what we know
  • W – what we want to learn
  • L – what we learn
  • H – how we can learn more from other resources

This site provides additional information on the procedural steps for using the KWLH strategy