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TeachNet Everywhere Grant: The Mystery of Exploration

Project URL: http://teachersnetwork.org/everywhere/Frerichs/index.htm

How it works:
The purpose of this lesson is to expand student understanding of the history of European exploration of North America and to introduce students to basic research techniques. These lessons focus on four explorers who visited New York State: Verrazano, Cartier, Champlain, and Hudson. In this WebQuest, students are challenged to put themselves in the role of one explorer. Each role play will require the student to look at the unanswered questions that were left by previous explorations and how their explorer helped solve the problem. Specifically, students are challenged to write a first person mystery story of the discoveries their explorer found. Students will use Microsoft PowerPoint to present their mystery story to the class. In addition to Internet resources, students will use primary sources such as old maps to gain understanding of the history of exploration in the century following Columbus.

Standards addressed:  
Social Studies--Students will 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; Students will 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; Students will access, generate, process, and transfer information using appropriate technologies.
American Library Association Standards-- The student who is information literate accesses information efficiently and effectively; the student who is information literate uses information accurately and creatively; the student who is information literate evaluates information critically and competently.

Student learning is measured on a student's ability to access information relating to a particular explorer, evaluate its usefulness, and present the information in a PowerPoint presentation. A rubric table is set forth on the webquest for specific measure of student learning.

Overall value:
This lesson is particularly valuable in teaching students the research process. Students will see how one European discovery left unanswered questions that other explorers set out to solve. Students will gain an understanding of European explorers of North America through the use of both secondary and primary sources found on the Internet. This lesson can easily be adapted to other explorations and discoveries. 
In order to capture student attention, we have used Macromedia Flash presentations to introduce each mystery that students are to solve. We have provided primary source map overlays of each explorer's discovery, in order to demonstrate to students, how one discovery would create new unanswered questions.

Mike Frerichs

About the teacher:
Mike Frerichs has worked as a library media specialist for six years in the Clarkstown Central School District.  He received his MLS from SUNY Albany. Prior to becoming a library media specialist, he worked as an attorney for 19 years. 


Subject Areas:
Social Studies
Library/Media Arts

Grade Levels:
4th & 5th



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