Who Came First?

Theme: Change is a part of our world
Topic: Exploration
Unit Designers: Madoff, Cotter, Daniels, Wren

Performance Task
To determine which European explored America first

Background Information:
• You are an assistant historian for the Museum of World History. The Director of your department has assigned you the task of determining which European explored America first. There are many theories circulating about who this explorer actually was. You will be required to use all of the information you find, some of which has heavy bias, to uncover the truth to this issue. The museum is counting on you to not only uncover the truth but also present the information to the Board of Directors.
• As you begin to sift through all of the information on European Explorers, you realize that there is misinformation everywhere. Many accounts have been influenced by the cultures and perspectives of the first explorers.
• You have decided that your first step will be to record your own beliefs on paper to serve as the beginning of your journey. This concept map will be the pathway by which you will unravel the web of historical deceit and uncover the truth about the first encounters with the New World.

The Expectations of the Board:
• The board expects to see a visual such as a concept map that will not only help them understand your thinking but also provide support for your conclusion. Specific evidence must be cited. You may choose the technology you wish to use to create your visual.
• Your presentation should be dynamic and interesting and may incorporate a variety media (technology, photography, drawing, etc.)

Your Task:
• Using your writer’s notebook, jot down your thoughts on who you believe was the first European explorer to reach America. Support this statement with facts from various sources. As with any historical research, record all the sources in a bibliography.
• Begin your concept map with a short statement (1-2 sentences) about which European explored America first.
• As you find information that interests you, add it to your concept map. The only information that should be added is that which you believe may be true (with support—of course).
• Create a presentation, including a completed concept map, which proves your point to the Board. By the end of your presentation, they should believe that your position is valid and well-supported.

Enduring Understandings:
Exploration leads to change.
Changes can be caused by humans or happen naturally.
People make decisions to change or stay the same.

Essential Questions:
How can explorers change the world as we know it?
How can a record of an event change?
How do we use symbols to show concepts and ideas?
How do the coming together of two peoples change their culture and how did those cultures change those people?
How can reading influence your thinking and cause you to change?
How do characters change throughout a book?

Link to Full Unit:

Link to Student Presentations: