This unit and the Standards in Historical Thinking
Correlations to National and State Standards
Why this unit?
This teaching unit will help students understand and appreciate the many types of interactions that took place among the world’s peoples during the period 300-1500 CE. While many teachers and students are familiar with the histories and contributions of individual civilizations and regions, traditional instructional materials provide few opportunities to link and compare developments that connected societies across regions and around the world. This unit provides an overview of several important varieties of change. Students will get a “big picture” of the rise and fall of empires and states. They will learn how world population changed during this era. They will view examples of cultural exchanges involving trade, migrations, religious expansion, transfer of knowledge, and diffusion of inventions and crops. These exchanges all contributed in one way or another to the speedup of technological, cultural, political, and economic change in the world.
This unit leads teachers and students to appreciate the cross-cultural exchanges that preceded and laid the groundwork for scientific, technological, and other developments often incorrectly assumed to have originated only in Europe. Cultural achievements typically associated only with one particular civilization or another are presented in the larger context of dynamic interrelations among diverse peoples.
Upon completing this unit, students will be able to:
Analyze connections between demographic change, migrations, trade, and empire-building, on one hand, and the intensification of cultural exchanges among human societies, on the other, between 300 and 1500 CE.
Time devoted to this unit may vary depending on the number of lessons taught and class time spent on each. Time needed might range anywhere from 60 to 400 minutes.
Sharon Cohen teaches world history at Springbrook High School in Silver Spring, Maryland. She is a member of the Advanced Placement World History Test Development Committee and a founding member of the editorial board for World History Connected: The EJournal of Learning and Teaching. She joined the World History for Us All development team in 2002.
Susan Douglass is Principal Researcher and Analyst for the Council on Islamic Education, Fountain Valley, CA, and author of numerous teaching units and books on Islam and world history. In 2002, she edited World Eras, Vol. 2, Rise and Spread of Islam (Gale). She joined the World History for Us All development team in 2001.
Introductory Activity: Using the PowerPoint Overview Presentation
Activity 1: How to use the PowerPoint Overview Presentation format
Students take notes from the PowerPoint Overview Presentation regarding the four major factors that increased cultural exchange and helped form patterns of interregional unity from 300 to 1500 CE. Students can use the table in Student Handout 0.1 to record questions they have about the information from the presentation slides.
Students discuss in small groups or as a whole class the questions they raised. If students ask questions that will be addressed in later lessons, the teacher should compliment them by letting them know that they are thinking like historians and that the questions they asked will be answered in the next few lessons.
The teacher may also project the presentation to the whole class on the computer or wall screen, stopping at each slide to help students record the information in the chart. Students are encouraged to write their questions in the third column and to share their questions as the slide is viewed.
The teacher shows students the outline for the subsequent lessons and asks them to match their questions with the lesson outline. If the students’ questions are not addressed in the lessons, the teacher can create lessons to answer those questions, or encourage students to do independent research.
Activity 2: How to use a printed version of the PowerPoint Overview Presentation:
The teacher distributes copies of the PowerPoint Overview Presentation slides to students in small groups. Students use the slides to record the evidence of the four major factors that increased cultural exchange and created patterns of interregional unity from 300 to 1500. They should record their answers in Student Handout 0.2.
As students write down the information from the slides they should also record questions they have about the evidence. Students also write down questions they might like to ask people represented by images in the slides.
Tell students to discuss the questions they raised in small groups or ask students to share their questions as a whole class. If the slide presentation is being used as a preview to the unit, the teacher may tell students that the subsequent lessons will address their questions. If the slide presentation is used as a review of the era, then the teacher may use some student questions as an assessment.