The Columbian Exchange

The Columbian Exchange
An Interdisciplinary Unit for 7th Grade
TPCK Lesson for PLP
Jan Ott, Liz Thornton, Susan Davis

Guiding Questions?
How do cultures “exchange” with one another?
How do we gain from exploration and discovery? At what price?
What are the components of a fair exchange (of ideas, of culture)?
Content Knowledge:

  • Exploration as…
  • Collecting, travel (ships/technology), discovery of longitude, impetus for a new way of thinking (about discovery), potential for disease, impact on ecology
Social Studies
  • Age of Exploration – what allowed it to happen?
  • -- technology, communication, economics, rising governments, desire for “more” (greed or curiosity?)
  • What happened as a result?
  • Understandings, misunderstandings, exploitations
  • What are the chain of events that set things in motion for the ultimate development of a globalized, modern world?
  • What was the role of race in these events? Why do we need to look at this?
  • How did the discovery of Eastern spices serve as a catalyst for exploration?
  • How was the European diet affected by New World foods?
  • What role did diseases play in the European conquest of the New World?
  • What is ecological imperialism?
  • How did the introduction of European weeds, plans, and farm animals change the environment of the New World?
  • What was the triangle trade?
  • How did the Columbian Exchange lead to African slaves being brought to the new world?
  • Connection with Islam?
  • Food and nutrition: drive to go ->spices (one-upmanship); health and diet (scurvy in the early years of exploration); Bringing food back to Europe and it's effects - cacao, corn, potatoes, tomatoes, etc.
  • Ecology and Environmental issues: (Trees: effect of technology on natural resources (ship-building))
  • Technological advances - clocks for longitudinal assessment, weaponry, food production allowing exploration and changing Native American diet
  • Thinking: looking to create new things, exploration as invention (more effective wheat-grinding, for example), more flavorful cooking
Pedagogical Knowledge:
  • Research and documentation skills
  • Assessing authoritative sources
  • Using resources to make an argument
  • Synthesizing sources
  • Writing an argument and using evidence as support
  • Understanding cause and effect
  • Understanding the complexities of change
  • Paraphrase and summary
  • Understanding the “research method”
  • Writing a lab report
  • Analyzing primary sources
Technological Knowledge:
  • Digital literacy – finding effective sources, keeping track of your research, organizing and sharing your sources, evaluating sources
  • Introduction to diigo – produce one-sentence summary of each resource for diigo entry
  • Tagging
  • Communicating - use of Glogster, Prezi, You Tube, etc.

Culminating Assessment:
Fair Exchange Summit
  • Students assume roles as epidemiologist, cultural anthropologist, etc. and come prepared to design rules for fair engagement in an exchange like the Columbian Exchange. They will consider the essential questions (and their extensions) of the unit:
  • Was the Columbia Exchange a fair exchange?
  • At what price, exploration?
  • If you could make a universal declaration of human rights for the explorers, what would it be?
  • In a world of discovery and exploration, what should be the rights of fair exchange?
To do:
Planning and organizing unit topics, presentations, research, etc.

Pedagogical Rationale:

  • How did one event in history, the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the New World, produce a ongoing chain of events that we are still trying to understand/deal with in today’s global world
  • Experiential learning proves to be more effective in the long run for retaining and understanding a concept. Likewise, learning in context makes sense for students. By teaching into a framework, we help students make connections.
  • Also, by making learning authentic by using real world examples, students see the value of what they learn in the classroom.

Technological Rationale:

  • For 21st century learning ,students need to understand information literacy skills, including how to evaluate a source online.
  • Students also need to learn how to build a positive, digital footprint—this project will help students expand theirs online.
  • Diigo allows students to interact with a digital text and colloborate with others. We are teaching students to use technology to learn, beyond just entertainment.
  • Connecting (skyping) with experts—real world authenticity

Why this lesson?

  • From a teaching perspective: this lesson is a trial run to test out what it will be like to teach in a integrated studies classroom. Take a lot of planning and preparation to do it well. We are considering expanding integrated units in the future, so this lesson will allow us to see what this really looks like and how much time, effort, and planning will need to go in to next year’s planning.
  • From a student perspective, will they learn from this? Action based research.
  • This is a turning point moment in history.

Other Half-Thoughts: (feel free to add your thoughts)

  • Ethical concerns for global interaction
  • Theory of knowledge
  • History of Technology?
  • The world became flat.
  • This is the point in which we became global and interacted globally. These are two key concepts that we are trying to get across.
  • Twitter (grey’s anatomy episode - where the chief was adamantly opposed to tweeting during surgery until they were able to locate a necessary piece of equipment in time to save a patient)

Panel Members:
Human Rights Activist
NASA space director
Ancestor of the Taino People
Culinary Arts Journalist
News Journalist
Lifestyle Journalist
Science Journalist
Weapons Specialist
Financial Investor