Educator Spotlight: Three Worlds Meet

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Tama Nunnelley, this weeks Educator of the Week, challenged her students to connect historic trade and exploration routes with our world today. Tama is a social studies teacher at Guntersville Middle School in Guntersville, Alabama.

Photo by Brooke Sharp

Activity: Three Worlds Meet

Grade Level: 5-7

Time commitment: 7 days

Discovering Historic Connections
In this lesson, I challenged my students to make connections between the Columbian Exchange, triangular trade, and exploration in the 15th through 17th centuries. How did those three worldsmeet to form the Americas of today? 

The class identified the impacts of the Columbian Exchange and explained how triangular trade contributed to the development of slavery in the colonies. They also made observations about where we live today compared to the explorers’ historic routes. Finally, they discovered how the physical features of the Atlantic Ocean shaped the Americas, which connected all three topics.

Step 1: The students started off in groups to research either exploration in the 15th-17th centuries, the Columbian Exchange, or the triangular trade. They illustrated their findings on copies of National Geographic’s one-page printable world map.

Step 2: The groups used National Geographic’s Mapmaker Interactive to identify factors that may have impacted exploration and trade around the Atlantic Ocean. By playing with the base maps and layers, they discovered that the ocean currents matched many of the major routes taken during the 15th and 17th centurieswhether for exploration or trade. The students concluded that the ocean currents must have influenced the routes.

Step 3: They collaborated on a new map to illustrate the connections between the currents and the trade or exploration routes. I printed a copy of the main MapMaker Interactive screen for them to use as a base map.

Students displaying their work. Clockwise from left: Sarah Wright, Lucas Colón, Avery Masdon, Sissy Altimirano, Brianna Lamons. Photo by Tama Nunnelley

If you could take your students on a field trip anywhere, where would you go?
I would love to take them back to ancient Egypt so they could see how a civilization developed in the desert along the Nile River. They could see how great minds came together to develop things that still mystify us today.

Do you have any advice for teachers who want to inspire their students to think more globally?
Take a GPS receiver outside and let students get to know their own community. Encourage your students to talk to people around them and get those oral histories. Everything is based on geography. Everything happened somewhere. If you start with that geographic pieceit doesnt even have to be a mapit helps ground new information. It helps students understand why things happened the way they did.

green nominateDo you know a great educator who teaches about our world? Nominate a colleague or yourself as the next Educator of the Week!

The Educator Spotlight series features inspiring activities and lessons that educators are implementing with their students that connect them to the world in bold and exciting ways.

3 thoughts on “Educator Spotlight: Three Worlds Meet

  1. It was awesome…I liked it a lot. I want to know more about kindergarten activities and teachers dealing with it from different corners of the world.

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