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McREL Standards Activity

The Great Explorers

Purpose:As a result of this activity, students will be able to describe important aspects of major European explorations between the 15th and 17th centuries.
Related Standard & Benchmarks:
United States History
 Standard 2.Understands cultural and ecological interactions among previously unconnected people resulting from early European exploration and colonization
   Level II [Grade 5-6]
   Benchmark 1. Knows the features of the major European explorations that took place between the 15th and 17th centuries (e.g., the routes and motives of Spanish, French, Dutch, and English explorers; the goals and achievements of major expeditions; problems encountered on the high seas; fears and superstitions of the times; what sailors expected to find when they reached their destinations)
Language Arts
 Standard 8.Uses listening and speaking strategies for different purposes
   Level II [Grade 3-5]
   Benchmark 10. Organizes ideas for oral presentations (e.g., uses an introduction and conclusion; uses notes or other memory aids; organizes ideas around major points, in sequence, or chronologically; uses traditional structures, such as cause-and-effect, similarity and difference, posing and answering a question; uses details, examples, and anecdotes to clarify information)
Student Product:Oral report
Material & Resources:No special resources required for this activity.
Teacher's Note:Teachers may wish to assign topics to students (or provide a list of possible explorations) to ensure that the oral reports collectively cover all the major European explorations. Encouraging students to take notes in preparation for an exam on the explorations presented in the speeches may also help to create a more attentive audience.
The teacher creates a list of major European explorations between the 15th and 17th centuries (e.g., Columbus’ first voyage to the new world, Magellan’s circumnavigation of the globe, etc.). Students each describe one of the major explorations in an oral presentation. The oral reports should focus on the explorers’ objectives, problems encountered, fears and superstitions, and achievements. They may also discuss the long-term consequences of these expeditions on the cultures and environments they encountered (i.e. the effects of Cook’s expedition on Hawaii, or Columbus’ voyages to the Caribbean). Teachers guide students to ensure the reports include content appropriate for their audience and summarize main points. Students should also be discouraged from simply reading written reports aloud. Instead, they should use notes, outlines or other memory aids. Students should also incorporate visual aids, such as maps, diagrams of ships, etc., in their speeches. Students may use technological aids, such as Power Point or Hyperstudio, to make the oral reports more appealing.