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Lesson Plan – MSSE 570
modified by Dr. Cude & Dr. Stern 8/08
Name: Kristen Schoenberger
Date: 10/06/08 Original / Revision
Subject/Class: World Geography Grade Level: 10th
Topic: Sub-Saharan Africa
NCSS Strand # III: People, Places, and Environments
b. create, interpret, use, and synthesize information from various representations
of the earth, such as maps, globes, and photographs;
c. use appropriate resources, data sources, and geographic tools such as aerial
photographs, satellite images, geographic information systems (GIS), map
projections, and cartography to generate, manipulate, and interpret information
such as atlases, data bases, grid systems, charts, graphs, and maps;
j. analyze and evaluate social and economic effects of environmental changes
and crises resulting from phenomena such as floods, storms, and drought.
Substrands: # II: Culture
a. analyze and explain the ways groups, societies, and cultures address human
needs and concerns.
h. explain and apply ideas, theories, and modes of inquiry drawn from anthropology
and sociology in the examination of persistent issues and social problems.
# IX: Global Connections
d. analyze the causes, consequences, and possible solutions to persistent
contemporary, and emerging global issues, such as health, security, resource
allocation, economic development, and environmental quality;
Essential Questions/Big Ideas:
What are the major issues affecting regions of sub-Saharan Africa today and what are some
possible solutions?
How does the geography of sub-Saharan Africa relate to its problems today?
How does the history of Africa impact its current situation?
Are the problems facing modern African nations unique to those regions only?
To what extent should other countries and international organizations be involved in sub-Saharan
Africa? What are some possible positive and negative consequences of foreign involvement?
Which countries/regions of Sub-Saharan Africa have been most successful and why?
General Objective[s]:
WG.1 The student will use maps, globes, satellite images, photographs, or diagrams to
a) obtain geographical information about the world’s countries, cities, and environments;
d) create and compare political, physical, and thematic maps
WG.4 The student will locate and analyze physical, economic, and cultural characteristics of world
regions: Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe, United States and Canada, North Africa and
Southwest Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, Russia and Central Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, East Asia,
Australia and the Pacific Islands, and Antarctica.
WG. 12 The student will apply geography to interpret the past, understand the present, and plan for the
future by
a) using geographic knowledge, skills, and perspectives to analyze problems and made
b) relating current events to the physical and human characteristics of places and regions.
Learning Outcomes:
Students will understand…
1. That sub-Saharan Africa is comprised of a variety of nations and cultures.
2. The complexity of current issues facing modern Africa.
Students will know…
1. The differences between the regions of North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa.
2. Key facts and characteristics (physical, economic, historical, and human/cultural) of the four
regions comprising sub-Saharan Africa (West Africa, East Africa, Central Africa, and Southern
3. The purpose of the African Union.
4. Current problems and issues facing modern African nations.
Students will be able to…
1. Identify key political, economic, and social issues facing nations in modern sub-Saharan
2. Create maps to illustrate current trends and issues in sub-Saharan Africa using geographic
information systems (GIS) technology.
3. Research and analyze figures, maps, and images related to a specific country in a region of subSaharan Africa in order to determine a significant issue affecting that area.
4. Design and defend a plan to solve a selected problem in a nation/region.
Students will value the…
1. That all societies face complex human and environmental issues that people work to solve.
2. Difficulty in determining clear solutions to modern problems.
Assessment: Methods of Evaluating Student Progress/Performance:
Formative Assessment:
Teacher will assess the students' understand of content through observation and by circulating
around the room during the lesson. During the Pan-African Summit inquiry project, the teacher
acts as a facilitator. In making initial groupings, teacher will try to pair struggling learners with
more advanced students. Because the activity is so student-oriented, teacher should have time
to answer questions of students, clear up misconceptions, and make sure students are on-task.
Use questioning and discussion following the project to assess student understanding of the
region and determine what they learned from the project. Use both lower and higher order
questions to get students talking about the project.
Read student reflections to gauge what knowledge was gained from the project and fix any
potential problems during the next class period by reviewing any material or key concepts
missed. Use individual and group evaluations also to determine how well different students
worked together and make any necessary adjustments in the future if two students do not work
well together, etc.
Performance Assessment:
During the project, teacher will take notes regarding student participation in the group. Speak
to students individually if necessary; remind them how they will be evaluated.
Oral presentations and chosen visual (PowerPoint, informational pamphlet, civil action posters,
role play, etc) of a critical issue and proposed solutions should help the instructor understand
the students' knowledge of the current events in their country as well as regional problems.
Questioning during the presentation will determine how well students thought about the issues
and its relationship to geography and history.
Content Outline: (sources listed in bibliography)
Sub-Saharan Africa
I. Creation of Geographic Regions
A. North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa
1. In the post-colonial era, Africa has been divided by international organizations and
scholars into two major regions: North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa. North Africa is
perceived to be different from sub-Saharan Africa due to the influence of Arab society
and culture. People in North Africa are thought to have more in common culturally
with the Middle East.
B. Five Regions
2. Africa can also be described as having five regions: North, East, West, Central, and
a. Countries of North Africa (these nations are excluded from sub-Saharan Africa):
Western Sahara, Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco.
b. Countries of West Africa: Mauritania, Mali, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau,
Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cote D'Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Niger,
Chad, Cameroon, Nigeria, and Guinea.
c. Countries of East Africa: Sudan, Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Eritrea,
Burundi, Uganda, Rwanda.
d. Countries of Central Africa: Central African Republic, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea,
Congo, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
e. Countries of Southern Africa: Angola, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique,
Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, and Lesotho.
II. Historical Background
A. Early Civilizations and Empires
1. Early civilizations
a. Hunter-gatherers societies existed in Africa tens of thousands of years ago.
People planted crops and domesticated animals as well. In 2000 B.C.E., a
climate shift caused people to migrate south of the Sahara desert. The Nile
River Valley remained fertile however.
2. Ancient Egyptians
a. Established cities starting around 4000 B.C.E. on the Nile River. Upper and
Lower Egypt were united by Pharaoh Menes around 3000 B.C.E.
b. Had a 12 month calendar, established a system of geometry, invented a
number system with a base of 10.
c. Writing system dates from 3000 B.C.E. System is based on hieroglyphics, or
pictures and symbols used to represent sounds, words, and ideas. Used paper
made from papyrus plants.
3. Western Empires
a. Empires on the western coasts flourished through trade in gold with peoples
across the Sahara. Ghana grew wealthy beginning in 700 C.E. in this manner
and prospered for 500 years. Mali and then Songhai followed.
4. Bantu Migrations
a. Established settlements in central and southern Africa in 800 C.E. Spread and
aided in the foundations of kingdoms in central Africa such as the Kongo and
b. There are about 150 million Bantu speakers in Africa today.
B. Colonization
1. Trade
a. Europeans began trade with Africa in 1200. They remained in coastal trading
areas, never traveling to the interior of the continent.
b. Slave trade accelerated after the discovery of the New World in the late
fifteenth century. In the Americas, slaves worked to cultivate cash crops such as
tobacco, sugar, and cotton. Europeans also sought gold and ivory (hence the
ivory and gold coasts) as well as textiles from Africa.
2. “Scramble for Africa”
a. Europeans became more interested in Africa for its natural resources. The
Age of Imperialism prompted competition among European nations for a piece
of Africa in the 1800s. By the twentieth century, Europeans controlled all of
Africa with the exceptions of Liberia (the history of which is tied strongly to the
United States and the American Colonization Society) and Ethiopia.
b. One important legacy of European colonization is the boundaries created by
European nations. Boundary lines divided ethnic groups (Africa is very diverse,
with over 2,000 languages spoken there today). Also, Europeans disrupted the
economic system of the region in order to quickly extract resources and grow
profitable crops.
i. Ethnic rivalries developed later as a result of the creation of these
boundaries and lack of African involvement in colonial governments.
1. Tutsi/Hutu conflict in Rwanda following Belgium's control of
the region. The Belgians had give the lighter-skinned Tutsi
group political power, even though the Hutus represented the
majority of the population. Belgium encouraged the Hutus to
rebel when the Tutsi pushed toward independence. Conflicts
between the two groups continued for decades.
2. Nigeria – British formed the territory from several smaller
ethnic groups; north Islamic and south traditional African
religions and Christianity. After independence, civil war erupted.
3. Apartheid in South Africa.
c. By the 19th century, Africans began demanding independence from European
control and achieved freedom in the second half of the century.
III. Summary of some Current Issues facing sub-Saharan African
A. Ethnic Conflicts (see above)
B. Food Production
1. Population growth places strain on resources and raises prices of food.
2. Overworked soil, overgrazing, soil erosion, and desertification are consistent
problems. Subsistence farming (mainly done by women) depends on human
labor alone due to lack of technology. Food production does not keep up with
population growth in many cases. Commercial farming for cash crops (mainly
worked by men) causes problems by taking up the best land – violence over
a. Conservation farming – learning land-management techniques to aid
farming and preserve land. Irrigation helps as well.
3. Unpredictable weather patterns and large numbers of refugees in central
Africa create a possibility of famine.
4. In West Africa, higher food production and have helped supply other areas.
Civil war can threaten ability to produce and distribute food however.
5. War a major contributor to hunger and malnutrition.
6. Governments are promoting exportation to increase the wealth of the nation,
yet food production fails to meet even domestic needs.
C. Water scarcity/sanitation
1. Famines due to severe droughts. Example: early 1990s on the Horn of Africa.
Drought a problem in East Africa since 1998 (21st century war and famine in
Sudan killed almost two million people).
2. Only 1/3 of African have clean water to drink. Only ¼ live in an area with
adequate waste sanitation as well.
D. Health
1. HIV/AIDS – AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) caused by HIV;
weakened immune system can't protect the body from infections and viruses.
Spread from person to person – has reached epidemic proportion in sub-Saharan
Africa. Treatments are too expensive. The disease has cut life expectancy, loss
of middle generation, orphaned children and led to a short supply of workers.
2. Malaria
a. Programs to distribute nets to protect against malaria.
E. Education
1. Education is valued and as a result of European colonization, formal
education was established in the early 1900s. Literacy rates have increased
since the late 1990s but still only 60 percent of people age 15 and over are
literate. Rural schools especially lack teachers and resources. (Internet is
becoming more widespread in some countries such as South Africa and Zambia,
but in general Internet service is not widely available yet).
F. Desertification
1. Describes a process in which fertile, productive land turns into desert.
Farmlands and grasslands are destroyed due to natural climate changes of water
shortages as well as human influences including deforestation, over extraction of
groundwater, and overgrazing and farming in times of drought. The Sahel
grasslands is turning into desert as a result of this process.
G. Deforestation
1. Destruction of forests to create farmland (slash and burn agriculture) and
H. Population Growth
1. Sub-Saharan African home to more than 673 million people. Has both the
world's highest birth and death rate as well as the highest infant mortality rate.
Also has the shortest life expectancy. Births still outnumber deaths so there is
population growth though AIDS may limit population in the future.
2. Vast land area accommodates large populations, but uneven distribution due
to climate and resources.
3. Nigeria is the most populous country.
I. Urbanization
1. One of least urbanized areas in the world.
2. Urban areas are growing quickly however. Has world's fastest rate of
urbanization. Leave for better jobs, health care, and public services. Most cities
located near valuable resources, particularly water.
3. Problems associated with urbanization – overcrowding, pollution, lack of
clean water and proper sanitation, and slums.
J. Dictators/civil war/political instability
1. Military dictatorships in many regions, instances of violence disrupt life.
2. High numbers of refugees creates problems for food and health.
K. Additional Resources
1. Diamonds and oil – good or bad for African nations (ex: Nigeria, Chad [poor
but rich in oil]
vocab. word
An area of the
 East Asia
 Often lacks clear  Mount
Earth that has
 Western Europe
common physical,  the South (in the  Might include
 market
cultural, economic,
many different
 a church
political, or
languages and
 the Rust Belt
historical features.
 Can be very small
(metropolitan city
region) or very
large (as in world
desertification Creation of deserts  In Africa, the
 dry, infertile soil
 fertile areas
from farmland and
Sahara is taking  soil erosion
such as
grassland due to
over the Sahel
 loss of
drought, overgrassland on its
grazing of animals,
southern border
over-extraction of
at an alarming
 forests
groundwater, and
The total value of
 2007 GDP est.
 A monetary value  Gross
all the goods and
for U.S. is $13
related to the
services produced
trillion dollars
wealth of a
within a country in
one year.
 Measure in U.S.
 Human
 Can be stated per
 Not an
measure of
standard of
ethnic conflict A war between
 Tutsi/Hutu
 Nationalistic or
 Revolutionar
or ethnic war
two ethnic groups.
conflict in
y wars
 Possible cases of  Religious
A movement or
worldview that
focuses on uniting
all Africans.
War in Darfur
African Union
Unification Front
Movement of people
from rural areas to
 Cities with fast
growth rates
such as Chicago
in the nineteenth
Possible partition
or secession
Resistant to
Promotes African
civilization and
integration of the
Struggles against
slavery, racism,
Combats political,
economic, and
social issues
facing Africa
Better access to
medical resources
May result in the
formation of
shanty towns
Student and Teacher Activities with Estimated Time Blocks: [90 min. + 3 additional classes (a
unit project on sub-Saharan Africa)]
1. Hook and Introduction [10 min.]:
Tell students to take out a blank sheet of paper. Have students write down five words
that come to mind when they hear the word “Africa”. After students have written down
five words, tell students to decide which of their words are positive associations and
which are negative. Have students share some of their ideas with the class and make a
list of each on the board.
What does this list say about how we think about Africa?
2. Short Background/Maps [15 min.]:
Show students some images of modern-day sub-Saharan Africa (on a PowerPoint). Ask
students what they know about African history. If they do not answer colonization at
any point (and even if they do), show slide with political cartoon of the “scramble for
Africa” and ask students what it depicts. Ask students what they know about the
positive and negative outcomes of colonization and how many African countries have a
colonial past (answer: all except Liberia and Ethiopia).
How does the history of Africa impact its current situation?
Pass out political maps of Africa. Using an overhead, together with students label the
Sahara desert and shade in the area of North Africa to help distinguish it from subSaharan Africa. Ask students if they know why North Africa is considered its own
region. Explain about its historical ties to the Middle East. Tells students we will be
studying sub-Saharan Africa specifically. Break down sub-Saharan Africa into more
workable regions by shading and labeling the other regions of sub-Sahara Africa
together (West, East, Central, and Southern). Label also the Kalahari and Namib
3. Pan-African Summit Project [rest of class period + next class]:
a. Break students into groups of four and assign each group to a region of sub-Saharan
Africa (West, East, Central, and Southern). There might be two groups with the same
regions. Give students the Pan-African Summit directions handout and rubric they will be
assessed with. Remind students about the European Union. Explain they will be
representatives from their regions of sub-Saharan Africa at an African Union summit.
b. Give students a handout with a chart to fill in information on their country of choice.
Each of the charts has spaces for students to fill in the required information. The chart is
divided into four sections: physical features, human and health, economic, and history and
culture. Each student in the group will be responsible for one area and report the
information back the group. Students may want to include other statistics related to their
specific issue in their presentation.
c. After choosing their roles, take students to the computer lab. Go over the
requirements/instructions for the project. Students will visit suggested websites to learn
more about their region and current events in that region. After researching online, groups
will pick one country to focus on and decide what they think is the most important issue or
problem facing that country. Students will research online and use textbooks to fill in
charts. Students will then compile a presentation which includes: an overview map of the
country, a key problem in the country/surrounding countries with supporting facts,
how/when the problem started, a map of the problem (created with GIS- which students are
familiar with), an image of the problem, and their plan for what should be done to solve the
problem or address the issue.
What are the major issues affecting nations of sub-Saharan Africa today
and what are some possible solutions?
Does the issue affect other countries in the region?
How does the geography of sub-Saharan Africa relate to its problems
How does the history of Africa impact its current situation?
Can money alone really be the sole solution?
4. Pan-African Summit Presentations [3rd class day and finish on 4th day]:
Students must present their findings and solution ideas orally to the Pan-African summit
in two days. They must display their information visually through either an informative
pamphlet addressing the issue, civic action posters, a multimedia PowerPoint, or by
acting out the issue, etc. Students must find a way to incorporate their maps and visuals
as well as important factual information at the summit (for example: if students do a
role play, it must contain reliable information [to be turned in on a separate sheet] and
they must at the end present their maps). Must include the sources of their information
and a map created using GIS software to illustrate the problem. Students are already
familiar with how GIS works. Each group member must participate.
The teacher will act as a facilitator during this time, helping groups use the GIS systems
to create maps, answering questions, and providing additional resource options.
5. Discussion/Debriefing [20 to 30 min.]:
After presentations at the summit, students and teacher discuss if they think the
suggested solutions would be successful. Questions to consider:
How difficult was it to come up with a solution for the problem?
How does the geography of sub-Saharan Africa relate to its problems today?
Where are the cities located?
Where are natural sources of water located?
How difficult might it be to travel around such a large continent?
How does the history of Africa impact its current situation?
Which countries/regions of Sub-Saharan Africa have been most successful
and why?
If students suggest Americans should solve the problem –
Are the problems facing modern African nations unique to those regions
Does every society face serious issues at one point or another?
What nations have faced problems similar to those in Africa in the past? Or
are facing them presently?
How would you then go about solving any problems in our own country?
To what extent should other countries and international organizations be
involved in sub-Saharan Africa? What are some possible positive and
negative consequences of foreign involvement?
6. Reflection/Self and Group Evaluation and Closure [Rest of class]:
On a page of notebook paper, students write a one or two paragraph reflection on the
What are the three most important things you learned about sub-Saharan
Which part of the project was most/least enjoyable/informative?
What were the difficulties associated with this assignment?
Can these issues be solved and who should solve them?
Students evaluate their performance as individuals and as a group using an evaluation
* Lesson Pan-African Summit activity adapted from Earle and Milton's article in the Journal of
Geography. Lesson was adapted by having students focus on one country at a time in their groups
(providing a list for them to choose from) and allowing students a choice as to what type of product
they will use to demonstrate their research. I also added the research section relating to history and
culture. I found my own web resources related to Africa for the students to use during research and
used my own research questions to guide the students' thinking.
Materials Needed for the Lesson:
Computer lab time
GIS system (such as ArcAtlas, Globalis, Google Earth)
Images of Sub-Saharan Africa PowerPoint
Political maps of Africa
Pan-African Summit directions handout
Pan-African Summit rubric
Chart handout (students use primary sources such as images, maps, and secondary source data from
reliable online sources)
Project Evaluation form
Bibliography/Resources Used:
Boehm, Richard G. and National Geographic Society. (2003). World Geography. New York:
Brun, H., Forman, L, and Brodsky, H. (2000). Reviewing global history and geography. 2nd ed. New
York: Amsco School Publications.
Earle, B.D., & Milton, A.J. (2007). Internet-based GIS in an inductive learning environment: a case
study of ninth-grade geography students. Journal of Geography, 106, 227-237.
Michigan State University. (n.d.). Exploring Africa. Retrieved October 6, 2008, from
University of Kansas. (2008). RubiStar. Retrieved October 8, 2008, from
Additional Websites (Suggested Research Sites for Students):
PBS Explore Africa:
Brain Pop
CIA World Factbook: Country Profiles:
Globalis GIS
Library of Congress: Portals for the World
World Vision International
World Vision: AIDS
IRIN – UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Debt, AIDS, Trade Africa
BBC News
BBC World Service: The Story of Africa
The New York Times
The Boston Globe “Oil in Africa”
National Geographic
Have a chart with some information already filled in so students are not
responsible for all the sections. Have student use only a few sources
recommended based on amount of visuals and reading level. Pair
struggling readers with students that will help that student complete the
assignment. If completing a PowerPoint or poster: have students do one
slide or section with the following headings:
 Country name
 Map of country
 Key problem
 Picture of the problem
 What we should do
When circulating the room, provide extra help and scaffolding for
struggling students. Provide students a vocabulary list ahead of time to
prepare them for the lesson. Emphasize key vocabulary words repeatedly.
Group work and trips to the computer lab allow for student movement and
active involvement. Student may demonstrate his/her project through a
role-play. Computer research allows the student to process information
from multiple sources and actively search for answers.
Gifted students, like the other students, have an option on the product they
will create. Some more advanced classes may wish to find an issue
affecting an entire region rather than one specific nation and focus on how
issues cross national borders. Students may also look into ways in which
these issues are addressed currently and how modern programs can be
improved. Higher order questions prompt students to think deeply about
the issues and how they should be confronted.
Subject Matter Integration/Extension:
This is a tenth grade lesson in a geography classroom. This lesson represents the first lesson in
an African unit. Future lesson following the inquiry-project and performance assessment will go over
key physical, economic, and cultural features not addressed in this lesson. For example, further
lessons might cover different types of agriculture practiced in Africa as well as the diversity of African
heritage and the importance of cities as centers of culture and trade on this large continent.
These lessons could be expanded on by having students focus on certain themes throughout the
entire year – such as why people live where they do, resources scarcity, and other global issues such as
health and education, etc. Students can easily apply what they learn in this lesson to other regions of
the world as well as to their own country and neighborhood. In the next class, I would like to have
students look at and evaluate different programs used in Africa to address these critical issues (i.e.
micro-lending, playing for water, etc.).
Reflections on Lesson Plan
My goals for this lesson were to let students uncover critical issues facing Africa today and the
difficulty of solving all of these problems. I wanted students to recognize that many of these issues are
global problems that many regions have faced either presently or previously in history.
This lesson also follows my philosophy of teaching by letting students direct their own
learning. The assignment does not tell students about the current events but allows them to research
issues and choose one they consider to be particularly important. Students also get a change to work in
groups and learn from their peers through presentations. This lesson incorporates technology related to
the subject matter, GIS. The students are not just playing around with Globalis or Google Earth, but
are using the program to research and present information. After the project, students have a chance to
reflect on how it went and what they would change to make it better. They also have a chance to
describe how the group worked together and how they worked themselves. I think it's important for
students to reflect on their experiences, partly so they can process what they learned but also so the
teacher can make adjustments and improvements in the future.