Sunday, January 30, 2011

African Ambassadors Project Guidelines

President Obama meets with Nigeria's ambassador
to the U.S., Adebowale Ibidapo Adefuye.
Finally, after weeks of research, we will start working on our Africa project. The project will consist of an annotated bibliography and a PowerPoint presentation, and will be due on Wednesday, February 9.

In this project, you and your partner will act as your country's ambassadors to the United States. Just like PSM's student ambassadors represent the school when visitors are present, real ambassadors help familiarize foreign governments with their country.

We will start by taking a look at this letter from the president.

Then, we will look at this project description.

You will find the rubric for the PowerPoint slideshow here.

The rubric for the annotated bibliography is here.

The rubric for the presentation is here.

Today, you will have the opportunity to finish your bibliography rough draft and begin your PowerPoint.

African Nations: Annotated Bibliography Rubric

In order to give you a little bit more time to perfect your bibliography, I have decided to extend the deadline for rough drafts to Wednesday, February 2. The rough draft is a 15 point homework grade, based on this rubric. Note -- the point value for the rough draft is exactly half of the grade for the final version. The final will count as a separate 30 point project grade.

The final draft will be due with your project on Wednesday, February 9.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Current Events and Citing Sources

Part 1: Current Events in Your Country
Now that you have gotten a good overview of the lifestyle and history of people living in your country, as well as some information about the land and wildlife, it is time to find out what is happening there today.

Use the following resources to locate a minimum of two current events about your country:
You and your partner should both read each story, but each group member should send a separate e-mail.

For each current event article, complete the following in an e-mail to me:
  1. Properly cite the story. Use the Purdue Owl site (link to the right of this page) to help you cite a news article. (2 points)
  2. Who is doing the action in the article? If there are any important people in the article you don't recognize, look them up and briefly describe who they are. (2 points)
  3. What is the article about? Summarize the article, including the significance of the event(s). (2 points)
  4. When did the events talked about in the article happen? (1 point)
  5. Where does the article take place? (1 point)
  6. How did the action presented in the article take place? (1 point)
  7. Why are the events covered by the article important? (1 point)
Each article is worth 10 points. Although you are working with your partner on this, you will receive an individual grade for this section of the assignment.

Part 2: A Bibliography on Africa
Now that you have several sources to work with, you will begin to compile a bibliography page. Open a new MS Word Document. Save it to the following location:
  • Y:\Ramin World Geography\Period 1 Bibliographies
Obviously, substitute your period number in the destination folder. I have created a folder for each class.

Save the document with your last name(s) and the word "Bibliography". Example:
  • Anderson Harrison -- Bibliography
In the document, start out with your heading in the upper left hand corner. Include the full name of each member of your group in the heading.

Now, you will cite and annotate the different sources you have looked at over the past two weeks in the lab and in the LRC. The information you have compiled on your country will prepare you to start our Africa project. We have been focusing on research -- I will show you how we are going to put our research together in the lab on Friday.

You should, at this point, have information in your notebook or in an e-mail you sent me related to approximately 5 sources. These are listed and linked below:
You will have the opportunity to find information from different sources, but this is enough for us to use now.

In your new MS Word document, properly cite the sources you have already completed. The example below is from the Worldmark Encyclopedia, which can be accessed through the Student Resources in Context. All of your citations should look approximately like this. Obviously, book sources do not need to include the url.

"Algeria." Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of the Nations Online. Detroit: U*X*L, 2009. Gale
         Student Resources In Context. Web. 26 Jan. 2011.

Notice that the second line of the citation is indented. Each citation should look like this.

You have used each source to track down different topics each day we've gone to the lab or LRC. For each source, use your notebook or the e-mail to create a 3-5 sentence summary for each source. This is your annotation. The annotation gives anyone who sees your project, or reads your paper, or just takes a look at your research, what you took from each source. A good summary should include:
  • A brief summary of topic you used the source to research
  • General information you took from the source
  • Specific examples of information you will use from the source
  • An evaluation of the site's usefulness.
For example, you might have a source that you use successfully to access information, but you might realize that the source is not as reliable as other websites or books you might examine. On the other hand, your source might be written by an expert, totally reliable and entertaining to read. It is up to you to decide how good an individual source is.
A rough draft of your annotations must be saved to the correct folder on the Y: drive before the end of the period. It is worth a total of 20 points.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Everyday Life Research

Today's class has two parts. Part 1 will take us most of the class and will focus on a new source. Part 2 will focus on properly organizing all of the sources you have used in the past two weeks.

Part 1: Life in Africa and in the United States
You are a student in the United States. You expect your life to be a certain way every day. If you were to move to another country, you might find that people's daily expectations are completely different.

Today, you will examine what life would be like in your assigned country. It might be just like your life is in the United States. On the other hand, it might be completely different. Complete the following in an e-mail to me (one e-mail between you and your partner):

Go to the the PSM LRC Page. You may use any of the research sources on the lower left hand side of the page today. I would recommend the following sources:
  • Gale Student Resources in Context (login: psmlrc; password: psmlrc)
  • CultureGrams (login: 73-82792remote; password: bigchalk)
We will focus on Religion and Lifestyle today. You will learn about the ways in which people live every day in your assigned country. Use the information to answer the following questions in an e-mail to me (one per partner group). Name the e-mail "Lifestyle in _______, Pt. 2." Fill in the blank with your country's name. Be sure to include both you and your partner's name in the e-mail. The e-mail is worth 20 points.
Answer completely. You will ultimately use this information to show your classmates what life is like in your country. For each question, include the name of the source (i.e., Gale, CultureGrams, etc)
  1. Cite your source(s). Refer to the Purdue Owl link on the right side of this site or on the PSM LRC page for details. You may also find the citation information directly on the website you are using.
  2. What cultural events are important to your country?
  3. What religious beliefs do people have in your country? Compare and contrast religious practices in your country with religious practices in your community.
  4. Describe family life in your country. Compare and contrast it with family life in Chicago.
  5. What type of housing do people typically have in your country?
  6. What traditions does your country have related to dating and marriage?
  7. How large do families typically get?
  8. Describe the lifestyle of a person from your country based on the information included on the page.
  9. Compare the diet of a person from your country with your diet.
  10. Free Space: Choose any topic available on the sources you are using today. Fully describe this topic and give any information on how it relates to your life in Chicago.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Extra Credit!

If you happened to check the blog today, here's your reward. Complete the following in an e-mail to me by 10 p.m. tonight for 3 points extra credit.

Why has the African country Tunisia been in the news lately? Summarize what you find out (minimum 3-5 sentences) in an e-mail to me, including the link where you found the information.

Use the following sources to figure out what is going on:

Africa Research Questions -- Tuesday, 1/25/11

Geographers --

If you were absent from class, or if you lost your sheet of paper, don't panic. The guiding questions for your research are below:

African Nations Research
Today you and your partner will visit the LRC to discover new information related to your assigned country. One of you will focus on finding information from a book provided by Mrs. McGrath. The other will spend your time using specific web resources – Gale Student Resources in Context and Worldmark Encyclopedia.
Your primary goal is to learn about your country’s history. You might find out other useful information, but focus on what has happened in the past in your country.
Complete each of the following in your notebook using your assigned source:
  1. Citation. Properly record the citation information for your source.
  2. History. In a bullet-point list, accurately describe at least 3 events which have occurred in your country’s past. For each, include the date the event happened, any important figures involved, and any other important information. This will help you tell your class the story of your country’s history.
  3. Leaders. Record information related to any important leaders from your country’s past. These could be local leaders, national leaders, or even individuals of international importance.
  4. Colonization. Almost every African country was colonized by a European country at some point during its history. Record the name of this European country, then describe your country’s history under colonialism and describe the way(s) in which it achieved its independence.
  5. Free Space! Choose any cultural, political, or natural topic from your country which interests you. Describe the topic, then give any important information related to that topic.
Your work from today is due on your desk at the start of tomorrow’s class period. It is worth 10 points.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Mapping the Bantu Migrations

Complete the following using the map provided. Your map must be in full color in order to be taken for credit (5 points color and attention to directions). This assignment is worth a total of 25 points. It is due on your desk Monday.
1.Title your map, including the years of the migration (1 pt.).
2.Draw the course of the Bantu Migrations using colored pencils. Use the map on p. 448 as your guide (4 pts.).
3.Create a key on the back of your map which informs the reader about any information shown on your map (4 pts.).
4.Draw in any major waterways present on the journey (4 pts.).
5.Fill in major vegetation zones (from p. 448) encountered by the Bantu (2 pts.).
6.Use the map on p. 421 to label the climate zones the Bantu might encounter (2 pts.).
7.Use the map on p. 419 to label any natural resources the Bantu might encounter (3 pts.).

Thursday, January 20, 2011

What if it happened here?

Ever wonder what it would be like if your home was affected by a disaster like this year's BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico? The If It Were My Home site contains a map which shows what it would look like if an oil well sprung a leak in Lake Michigan. Check it out to see a GREAT map that will help you understand a real life event.

You can also see what would happen if a recent devastating flood which took place in Pakistan occurred in Chicago.

Website Home Page:

Technical Difficulties...

Students -- the CultureGrams website does not seem to be working at the moment. I will follow up with Mrs. McGrath tomorrow to find out what the problem is. If you have not yet completed through #4, make sure that you complete it tomorrow after we figure out what went wrong.

Chicago News and Life in Africa

Today we will start by taking a look at a couple of major current events happening in Chicago.

Part 1: First, read this Reuters article about a visit to Chicago by the president of China, Hu Jintao. You can see a picture of Mr. Hu to the right.

Use the article to answer the questions below on loose leaf paper:
  1. According to the article, why did Mr. Hu choose Chicago as the only American city outside of Washington, D.C. that he would visit during his current trip to the United States?
  2. What are three connections Chicago has with China?
When you are finished, wait for further instructions.

Part 2: As most of you know, Chicago's longtime Mayor, Richard M. Daley, is retiring from office after 22 years -- he's been mayor since 1989. Four candidates are attempting to replace him: former congressman Rahm Emanuel, former senator Carol Mosely-Braun, former CPS head Gery Chico, and local politician Miguel del Valle. Chicagoans will be able to vote on the candidates on February 22, 2011. You can see a picture of the four below:

In order to learn a little more about the election, we will watch this video from WGN. Use the video to answer the questions below:
  1. Who is interviewing the candidates in the video?
  2. What questions did you see the students ask?
  3. What answers did the candidates offer?
  4. How did students feel about the answers they were given?
Part 3: Finally, we will learn a little bit about the people of the country you were assigned on Tuesday. Go to the the PSM LRC Page. Look for the CultureGrams link on the lower left hand side of the page. Click on the link. Use the information below to log in:

  • Login: psms
  • Password: lrcs
Once you've logged in, click on the box marked "World Edition." This will take you to the database's information about countries around the globe. Once there, click on Africa on the map, then find your country in the map of Africa. Click on your country. This will take you to a page FULL of information.

We will focus on Religion and Lifestyle today. You will learn about the ways in which people live every day in your assigned country. Use the information to answer the following questions in an e-mail to me (one per partner group). Name the e-mail "Lifestyle in _______." Fill in the blank with your country's name. Be sure to include both you and your partner's name in the e-mail. The e-mail is worth 20 points.
  1. Where is this source written? Who writes it?
  2. Why is important for us to know where the website is published, especially in this case?
  3. What religious beliefs do people have in your country? Describe any religious practices.
  4. Describe family life in your country.
  5. How family life different from your life with your family in Chicago?
  6. What type of housing do people typically have in your country?
  7. What traditions does your country have related to dating and marriage?
  8. How large do families typically get?
  9. Describe the lifestyle of a person from your country based on the information included on the page.
  10. Compare the diet of a person from your country with your diet.
If you finish with your tasks today, you may watch this video about Mr. Hu's visit. Remember: We have a quiz tomorrow covering the information from this week -- migration, African nations, landforms in Africa.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wednesday, 1/19/2011 Homework

Read the information about Population Distribution on pp. 80-81 in your textbook.
Respond to the following:
1.Why are people not distributed equally across the earth?
2.Between what latitudes are people most heavily concentrated? Why is this the case?
3.Approximately what percentage of the world’s population lives in rural areas? Is this changing? Why?
4.Define push-pull factors. Give an example of a “push” factor and an example of a “pull” factor.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Environmental Conservation in Africa

As the world's population soars toward 7 billion, there are few places in the world left untouched by humans. Many people across the world are becoming increasingly concerned with the environment.
One of the greatest sources of concern for many people is Africa. Because the continent has such an incredibly high amount of biological diversity, it has become a focal point for environmentalists and scientists.

In order to examine some environmental issues in Africa, each of you will be assigned a country to look at with a partner.

You will complete all work in an e-mail to me (one per group). In the subject line, put your period and the name of the country you were assigned. For example, if you are in period one and your country is Zambia, you would write, "Period 1: Zambia". Make sure you include the names of both group members in the e-mail.

Part 1: First, use either CultureGrams or the CIA World Factbook to find some basic information about your country:
  1. Name your country
  2. Describe its relative location
  3. Describe the physical geography, including any important landforms
  4. Name the capital and any other major cities
  5. Give the population
  6. Give the percentage of people who live in urban environments
  7. Describe the country's economy, including any major resources and/or industries
  8. Describe any international issues/concerns held by your country
This section of the assignment is worth 10 points.

Part 2: Then, we will take a look at the country's environment, specifically by examining the work of one conservation agency, The Wildlife Conservation Society. Complete the following in the same e-mail:
  1. Examine the WCS "About" page. What is the WCS? What is its mission? Where are they based out of? Why is this important for us to know?
  2. Go to the WCS "Africa" page. Find your country. Summarize the information the WCS gives about your country's environment.
  3. Give three environmental facts about your country.
  4. What threats or challenges does your country's environment face? Be specific.
  5. Does the WCS offer a plan or response for the issues faced by your country? Describe their response, giving specific information about actions planned or taken.
  6. Name and describe any projects funded by the WCS currently ongoing in your country. You may have to click on an additional link to find this information.
This section of the assignment is worth 10 points.

The assignment is worth 20 points total, and is due in my inbox by 5:00 p.m. today.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Friday, 1/14/2011 Homework

For homework this weekend, read pp. 438-439, 448 and 453-454. Then, answer the following questions on loose leaf. They should be on your desk at the start of Monday's class.
  1. How did the Nile allow for the growth of Egypt?
  2. What connections did Egypt have with the rest of the world? How did its influence spread?
  3. What is Islam? Why is it important in North Africa?
  4. Who were the Bantu? Where did they originate? What influences do they have on modern Africa?
  5. What was Great Zimbabwe? Where was it located? When was it most powerful? What made Zimbabwe important?
The assignment is worth 2 points per question, and 10 points total.

Monday, January 10, 2011

West African Empires

Today we will begin an examination of three African empires -- Ghana, Mali and Songhai. Although none of these is as famous as Ancient Egypt, each is incredibly important in the history of African trade with the rest of the world.

To start with, take out a sheet of loose leaf paper. You will need it to complete today's classwork.

Part 1: Landforms in West and North Africa
  1. Open your book to a physical map of Africa.
  2. Focus on West and North Africa. List as many landforms and waterways as possible in the time provided.
  3. Many major historical African cities, such as Alexandria, Cairo, Tunis and Carthage, were located along the northern waterways. Others were located along the west coast, near the Atlantic Ocean.
  4. Starting around 700 CE, North Africa from Egypt to Morocco was conquered by Arab-Muslim invaders from the Middle East.
  5. Over time, these newcomers began to send traders on camelback across the Sahara to West Africa.
  6. Answer the following question: What would motivate a person to travel across an enormous desert?
Part 2: Researching West Africa's Past
You will be assigned one of three historic West African trade empires to research.
  • Ghana
  • Mali
  • Songhai
Answer each of the following questions on the sheet of loose leaf using the sites provided. Be sure to answer in complete sentences. For each question, write down the website you used to find your information. This should look like a link. You might use the same website for multiple questions. The assignment is worth a total of 20 points. It is due on your desk at the start of tomorrow's class period.
  1. Record the name of your empire and its relative location. State which modern countries it would be located in.
  2. Record the dates during which your empire was powerful.
  3. Record the resources it traded to North Africa/the Middle East.
  4. Record the resources it received in return from North Africa/the Middle East.
  5. Name any important rulers and describe their importance.
  6. Describe how contact with outside traders influenced the country.
  7. Explain how these influences were (or were not) assimilated into your empire's culture.
  8. Describe the ways in which your empire changed after coming into contact with other cultures.
  9. Name and describe any art, music and artifacts your empire is famous for.
  10. Explain why your empire ultimately declined and fell.
Websites for Research
Historic Maps:
Trade Routes Between Middle East and North Africa:
Ghana, Mali and Songhai Empires:

Monday, 1/10/2011 Homework

Use the information on pp. 424-425 to complete the following on the back of your Desertification Cause and Effect T-Chart. The assignment is worth 3 points per square, and 12 points total. It is due on your desk at the start of tomorrow's class period.
Divide the paper into four equal squares.
Use each square to draw and describe the following four steps which lead an area of land toward desertification.
Loss of rainfall
Death of soil-conserving plants
Near total loss of water

Friday, January 7, 2011

Friday, 1/7/2011 Homework

This weekend, read chapter 18.3 and take Cornell Notes. The notes are due on your desk at the start of Monday's class. They are worth 10 points.

In addition, if you did not finish your Sahara Desert story from class, complete this as well. The guidelines I showed you in class are below:
Read the information on pp. 420-421.
Then, imagine you have to cross the Sahara desert. Write a short story about your journey.
Include challenges you would face, sights you would see, the mode of transportation you would take, and other information.
All info. must be from the book unless otherwise cleared by me.

10 points. Be prepared to share with class.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Africa's Global Connections

Today we will continue to develop two themes of our Africa unit -- Diversity and Globalization.

In order to do this, we will look at African history and create a timeline. In addition, we will take a look at some modern news events happening in Africa.

First, note that the following abbreviations are used throughout the activity:
  • BCE "Before the Common Era" (sometimes also called BC)
  • CE "Common Era" (sometimes also called AD)
We will again be looking at maps provided by Michigan State University. Instead of pictures, these maps include historical data. This is meant to provide you with a general background of Africa's history. Next week, we will start to get into more specifics. You will complete today's assignments on loose leaf paper.

Map 1: Ancient African History to the 1400s (10 points)
Click on the following link and listen for instructions:

The map shows the location of historical events. By clicking on each of the numbers, you can pull up information on what happened, where it happened, and when it happened.
  1. You will first use the information on the map to create a timeline as described on the site (5 points).
  2. Then, you will create a graphic organizer showing historic connections between Africa and the rest of the world (following the site's example) (5 points).
Map 2: African History from the 1400s to the 1800s (10 points)
Click on the following link and wait for instructions:
  1. Again, use the information on the map to create a timeline as described on the site (5 points).
  2. Then, create a graphic organizer showing historic connections between Africa and the rest of the world (following the site's example) (5 points).
Homework: Study for QUIZ!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Online Study Resources for the Map of Africa

In order to study for Friday's map quiz, visit the following site:

Wednesday, 1/5/2011 Homework: Resources in Africa

Examine the maps on p. 419 and p. 405. Use them to answer the following questions:
1.List FIVE countries that produce petroleum.
2.List THREE countries where commercial farming is a major economic activity.
3.List THREE countries in southern Africa that produce diamonds.
4.Identify TWO countries where livestock is an important commodity.
5.List the countries that include manufacturing and trade centers.
6.Fish is an important food in a number of African countries. Identify FIVE countries where fish is an important food resource.
7.List FIVE countries where you might find gold, platinum or other precious metals.
8.List FIVE countries which appear to exist mostly at the FOLK level of society (based on the information given on the map).

Monday, January 3, 2011

A Brief African Odyssey

Today, you will go on a journey across Africa using resources provided by Michigan State University. The links and questions below are designed to give you an overview of the continent's diverse cultural characteristics and physical features.

This activity is a series of maps of Africa studded with thumbnail pictures. If you click on a picture, a larger version of it will pop up. The pictures express a particular theme for that page, including: geography, culture, religion, making a living, transportation, and where people live.

You will complete this assignment in an e-mail to me. It is due at the end of today's class period. The assignment is worth a total of 20 points, with points deducted for grammar, completeness and accuracy of responses.

Map 1: Physical Geography
Click on the following link:

Then, do the following for each picture:
  1. Briefly describe the photo.
  2. Name the landforms present in the photo.
  3. Describe the climate shown in the photo.
  4. Describe the vegetation visible in the photo.
When you've done this for each photo, imagine that you were really going on a vacation to Africa. How would what you see in these photos affect your packing?

Map 2: Culture
Click on the following link:

Then, answer the following:
  1. What types of music, art and culture do you see in the photos?
  2. Does anything remind you of something similar you've seen in the U.S.? Explain.
Map 3: Religion
Click on the following link:

Then, answer the following, including references to specific photo numbers when appropriate:
  1. What are the different types of religious buildings you see in these pictures? Do you recognize any of them?
  2. Can you definitively associate any religion with any of the buildings?
  3. Do any of them look like anything you are familiar with in Chicago? Explain.
Map 4: Making a Living in Africa
Click on the following link:

Then, answer the following:
  1. What jobs are shown in the photos?
  2. What can the location of these jobs tell you about the area? (HINT: think about climate, vegetation, landforms and natural resources)
  3. Could you find employment in any of the industries shown in Chicago? If not, give an example of a place in the United States where a person might be able to find the type of job(s) shown.
Map 5: Transportation in Africa
Click on the following link:

Then, do the following for each photo:
  1. Describe the photo. Include the region in Africa in which the photo is located (using compass directions) and specific information about the environment shown.
  2. Describe the type of transportation shown. Explain what this might tell you about the people living in the region.
For tonight, read Chapter 18, Section 1 in your textbook (pp. 414-418). Take Cornell Notes on the section in your notebooks. If you need a refresher on the Cornell Note taking system, take a look at this link from Cornell University.

The notes are worth 10 points, and are due on your desk at the start of tomorrow's class period.