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TeachNet 2008 Grant Winner       << Back to all Grant Winners
Three Worlds Meet in the Americas: DNA Evidence Confirms It

Subject:Social Studies, Technology

Grade Level: 7-8

Materials: Computer with Internet access, LCD projector, MS PowerPoint software, SmartBoard (if available), African American Lives DVD, Amistad DVD, AdMixture test results, the book The Middle Passage by Tom Feelings (optional)

About: This unit explore the first encounters between Native Americans, Europeans, and Africans in the Americas 500 years ago. Students learn who the three groups were, how they got here, and what happened when they arrived. They are introduced to geography as well as primary and secondary sources, inference, and cause and effect.

The final project for the unit involves analyzing DNA evidence and developing possible theories of migration of specific case studies. The students create a map depicting the possible routes traveled by ancestors to get to America.

This unit is engaging because students are learning about themselves. They use their own findings (or that of people their age) to learn about history and see the very real connection between the present and the past.

If possible, begin early prepping for this project. If you have the resources to have your students take the Admixture DNA test (www.ancestrybydna.com, $240), it will take some time to get the materials and administer the test with parental consent and get the results back.

 Objectives
Students will be able to understand the importance of biology, technology, and geography on history.
Students will be able to challenge widely held beliefs about history.
Students will be able to describe migration theories.
Students will be able to understand the causes and effects of European exploration.
Students will be able to understand the causes of and conditions on the Middle Passage.
Students will be able to make connections between the past and the present.
Students will be able to use inference and evidence to develop theories of migration.

Websites
Students can learn more about the participants in the original African American Lives program. They will probably know many of them already, but they can pick two they really want to learn about and follow their journey on the program.
http://pbs.org/wnet/aalives/2006/profiles.html
This page from the African American Lives program website gives a very detailed description of the way AdMixture testing works, so students can understand what the bars and percentages mean.
http://pbs.org/wnet/aalives/2006/science_tests3.html
This page from the company that provides the AdMixture test provides information on how the test is administered and how the results can be interpreted. A link to purchase test kits is also available on this page.
http://ancestrybydna.com/welcome/whatisancestrybydna/
This link from NOAA shows how the Bering land bridge slowly disappeared, cutting off migration on foot for the first Americans.
http://ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/parcs/atlas/beringia/lbridge.html
This resource comes from the book The Middle Passage: White Ships, Black Cargo by Tom Feelings. It is an artist's interpretation of the Middle Passage based on years of research.
http://juneteenth.com/middlep.htm
This interactive link from National Geographic shows with a time line and a map how early people migrated and provides evidence of their movement all over the world.
https://www3.nationalgeographic.com/genographic/atlas.html

Standards
Students use a variety of intellectual skills to demonstrate their understanding of major ideas, eras, themes, developments, and turning points in the history of the United States and New York.
K-12
Social Studies
Students use a variety of intellectual skills to demonstrate their understanding of major ideas, eras, themes, developments, and turning points in world history and examine the broad sweep of history from a variety of perspectives.
K-12
Social Studies
Students use a variety of intellectual skills to demonstrate their understanding of the geography of the interdependent world in which we live—local, national, and global—including the distribution of people, places, and environments over the Earth’s surface.
K-12
Social Studies
Students use a variety of intellectual skills to demonstrate their understanding of how the United States and other countries develop economic systems and associated institutions to allocate scarce resources, how major decision-making units function in the U.S. and other national economies, and how an economy solves the scarcity problem through market and non-market mechanisms.
K-12
Social Studies

Day 1: Where did the first Americans come from?
Objectives
Students will describe the process by which the Bering land bridge helped bring people to America.
Students will read and interpret historical relief maps.
Materials
LCD projector
Computer with Internet access and MS PowerPoint
Paper
Colored pencils or markers
Procedures
1. Have students complete question as Do Now: Why do people move from one place to another? Student share responses. Connect theme of a better life and finding more/better resources to the idea that the first Americans were no exception.
2. Take a moment to go over the unit as a whole and then through the vocabulary for the lesson: migration, Beringia, America.
3. Discuss the main points in the mini-lesson: who were they, how did they get here, where did they go. Show a short movie on the land bridge being submerged at the end of the Ice Age.
4. Distribute paper and markers or colored pencils. Go over task: creating a map of the land bridge with labels and a summary of an answer to the aim using vocabulary words. Circulate to assist with completion. Students can use a map from the text or the slide in the presentation to guide them.
5. Invite students to share responses to aim using the three vocabulary words in their response.
Homework
Complete Beringia booklet if necessary.
Assessment
Successful completion of Beringia booklet and oral responses to share at end (responding to the aim).

Day 2: What were two reasons that Europeans came to the Americas?
Objectives
Students will describe the two reasons that Europeans explored America.
Students will listen for information and identify important information.
Students will describe the settlement of America by Europeans.
Materials
LCD Projector
Computer with Internet access and MS PowerPoint
Text of introductions for Prince Henry and King Ferdinand
Procedures
1. Have students complete question as Do Now: What is Christopher Columbus famous for? Students share responses. Connect to idea that some history occurs by accident and that this lesson will introduce you to some accidental history.
2. Take a moment to connect this lesson to the previous one and then go over the vocabulary for the lesson: trade routes, settlement, Christianity.
3. For the mini-lesson, explain to students that they will be having two visitors: Prince Henry of Portugal and King Ferdinand of Spain. Research the responses to these questions from a textbook before presenting. Students listen to the speakers and write down responses to the questions posted about them. For these type of character portrayals, I have a three-cornered hat that I or students wear, depending on who is in character. Go over responses with students after the guests depart.
4. After determining the two reasons why Europeans explored America, describe the voyage of Columbus and use the map to show where he went as well as his motives for going and his impressions upon arrival.
5. Fast forward to the Europeans that follow Columbus and show the map that divides up the Americas. Have students respond to the questions provided, and review responses. Ask them who is not included in this distribution of land (Native Americans).
5. Students should respond to the exit slip question to demonstrate understanding of the impact of European exploration.
Homework
Why do people think Columbus discovered America? Write a one-paragraph response.
Assessment
Students will correctly respond to listening exercise questions, to the map-related questions, and to the exit slip multiple-choice question.

Day 3: How did European settlement change life for the Native Americans?
Objectives
Students will detail the causes and effects of European settlement on Native Americans.
Students will describe the effects of smallpox in the Americas.
Students will read and interpret poetry with a historical context.
Materials
LCD Projector
Computer with Internet access and MS PowerPoint
Procedures
1. Have students complete question as Do Now: Correct the following sentences: 1. Students must go to tey're class. 2. Its 2:00 in the afternoon. Student share responses Quickly go over the answers connecting the importance of grammar when writing in Social Studies.
2. Quickly review the reasons for European settlement with the class. Encourage them to use vocabulary words to fill in the blanks.
3. Take a moment to connect this lesson to the previous ones and then go over the vocabulary for the lesson: smallpox, Conquistadores.
4. For the mini-lesson, discuss the overall positive and negative effects of European settlement in the Americas. Spend some time discussing smallpox and its decimating effects. Discuss the role of Bartolome De las Casas in helping to relieve some of the poor treatment of Native Americans.
5. Students can analyze an Aztec poem about the Conquistadores and the effect of European exploration. Have them respond to the questions listed. You may want to reproduce the poem so students can have both in front of them. Review responses with students.
6. Discuss the suggestion made by De las Casas regarding the importation of slaves from Africa to replace the Native Americans Connect to next lesson on the Middle Passage.
7. Students respond to the exit slip to reinforce their understanding of the content and of cause and effect.
Homework
Assessment
80 percent of students will complete the exit slip with correct responses.

Day 4: What were the conditions on the Middle Passage?
Objectives
Students will detail specific conditions of the Middle Passage.
Students will explain the reasons behind the slave trade.
Students will describe the Amistad revolt and its outcome.
Materials
LCD projector
Computer with Internet access and MS PowerPoint software
Paper
Amistad DVD, Copy of images from White Ships, Black Cargo
Procedures
1. Have students complete question as Do Now: What were three reasons the Spanish chose to replace Native Americans with African slaves? Student share responses. Remind students that the purpose of slavery was free, forced labor and that Africans were forcibly taken from their homes.
2. Explain the meaning of the phrase "Middle Passage." Describe the conditions of the Middle Passage and the reasons for these conditions.
3. Introduce Cinque as the leader of the Amistad revolt and reveal the outcomes of those on board.
4. Have students set up a T-Chart on their paper. Label one side, "What I see" and the other "How I feel." Instruct students to have six entries on each side of the chart. Show images from the film and book.
5. Have students share out in pairs their thoughts and feelings about the images they saw. Ask a few students to share out with the class their thoughts and feelings about the images they saw.
6. Students answer the aim using the images they have seen and complete an exit slip to hand in as they leave class.
Homework
Write a page from the diary as a person on the Middle Passage that describes the experience you are going through.
Assessment
Successful completion of the T chart with thoughtful responses, oral responses to share at end (responding to the aim), and 80% correct responses to exit slip.

Day 5: How can we use DNA evidence to learn about our ancestors?
Objectives
Students will understand the use of AdMixture testing.
Students will understand how science and history can work together.
Students learn learn more about the experiences of others researching their family history.
Materials
LCD projector
Computer with Internet access and MS PowerPoint software
African American Lives DVD
Procedures
1. Have students complete question as Do Now: What is a family tree? Student share responses.
2. Go over multiple-choice question about Bartolome de las Casas and review the interactions of all three groups (Native American, European, and African) in America.
3. Go over structure of family tree and how it is used. Connect to students' own family trees and see if they can go back to their grandparents with salient data: Names, birth dates, and place of birth and death if applicable.
4. Introduce film and review questions that need to be answered. Students can write down questions or they can be reproduced.
5. Show program 4: Beyond the Middle Passage. Students respond to questions.
6. Review responses with students and conduct a general conversation about the program.
7. Introduce project with students and share expectations and data. Students begin to work on project.
Homework
Begin to work on project with samples from students in class or with samples I can provide.
Assessment
Students can successfully complete questions related to the program.

Eric Lincoln

elincoln@schools.nyc.gov

MS 223 The Laboratory School of Finance and Technology
360 E 145th St.
Bronx, NY 10454

Eric is a middle school Social Studies teacher in District 7 in the Bronx. Bringing history to life for students is a responsibility he takes very seriously. (This includes sumbitting his own DNA sample for this unit--see above picture.) He has taught for five years and helped start MS 223 when it opened in 2003. He enjoys taking his students annually to Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. to witness history and government first-hand. He received his undergraduate degree from Georgetown University, his master’s degree from Fordham University, and is a National Board-certified teacher in Early Adolescence Social Studies.


Important documents for this lesson plan.

lesson 1: beringia.ppt
lesson 2: european explorers.ppt
lesson 3: native americans and europeans.ppt
lesson 4: middle passage.ppt
lesson 5: african american lives.ppt

 

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