AP World: Map Project & Unit 2 Plan

The Class: AP World History Modern

Unit 2: Networks of Exchange

Due to a variety of factors (still Covid related…) I am a little farther behind in the curriculum than normal. Unit 1 always takes a bit extra time because I like to front load so many skills. Unit 2 presented an opportunity to save some time since a lot of its content is already previewed in unit 1. So we (the other AP World teacher and myself) developed a plan to make sure we cover the key concepts across the CED while also continuing with skills so that students are ready to write their first complete DBQ at the end of the unit.

This will be the first year I have not used the Trial of Ghenghis Khan, but there is just not enough time. Even with the 2019 redesign of the course, time is always a factor.

Map Project

The other AP World teacher had a project he had used before that I liked. With some quick adjustments we found that it both covers content and many of the CED key concepts. Although students will be learning about all three major trade routes, the project will ask them to go into depth with one of them. We added a few analysis pieces to reflect the skills work we have been doing with Comparison, Causation, and CCOT. This project became a “spine” for the unit. Each block will involve some content instruction and skill-building while also giving students time to work on the project in small pieces.

The images in the directions are from a previous year’s iteration of the project. I like the traveler portion of the project since I normally do post-card activity around the travels of Ibn Battuta. We will leverage the project with a gallery walk and analysis activity when they are turned in. Below is an overview of what we have planned for the lesson structure and activities.

Lesson Structure

Changes will happen, but this is our working plan. Students read a section from Strayer’s Ways of the World 4th edition prior to each lesson. I use reading guides to scaffold note-taking and quick reading quizzes to hold students accountable for the reading. My reading guides (linked below) are fairly basic. I am not a fan of the CED based reading notes I have seen only because I find them to be a bit repetitive. Luckily, notes are not the make or break variable for students. Over the years I have become a huge proponent of textbook reading at home with application in class. I am not full “flipped classroom” but am pushing towards it.

Block 1: Silk Roads (2.1)

  • We planned a half block lesson that would both review some content and let students practice SAQ writing. In pairs, students worked together on an SAQ focused on causation. After debriefing it and reviewing some model answers students completed a formative SAQ individually that was focused on CCOT. For the first SAQ they worked on, we rotated answer sheets through different parts. So, one pair would write the topic sentence with an identified answer, the second pair would write the explanation and select which evidence to use and so forth. Gave the activity a nice twist.
  • Project Work Time

Block 2: Indian Ocean Trade Routes (2.3)

  • At least once a unit it’s helpful to return to the themes in a direct way. For this block we asked students to brainstorm the characteristics and key concepts of Silk Roads and Indian Ocean Trade Routes on SPICET charts. From these, we asked students to write thesis statements for comparative arguments. Our focus was on pushing students to “complex” comparisons that will produce some good analysis and insight.
  • Project Work Time

Block 3: Trans-Saharan Trade Routes (2.4)

  • Since the first full DBQ is coming up at the end of the unit we thought it would be useful to return to contextualization. Students were provided with thesis statements around a common LEQ topic and asked to contextualize them. It was quick and most of the block was preserved for project work time. I also squeeze in vocabulary review when there is an extra 10-15 minutes.
  • Project Work Time

Block 4: Project Work Time

  • Self-Explanatory. I appreciate that the school I work at seeks to minimize homework in order to help students develop good work/life balance. Admittedly, its also easy as a teacher to forget how long frequent reading and projects across multiple classes can take. This means some creative unit planning to finish the AP curriculum in time, but it’s worth it.

Block 5: The Mongols (2.2)

  • My only lecture of the unit is on the Mongols. Pieces of this topic have already been covered, but I spend my time unpacking the context and global significance of the Mongols instead of getting into details. I also introduce a topic that is on my half-joking list of “guaranteed complexity points.” When getting into empires I like to introduce Ibn Khaldun’s concept of “assabiyah” or social cohesion. I combine this with a touch of cliodynamics from Peter Turchin’s work on the rise and fall of empires. It’s one of my favorite topics to get into with a lecture. A good dose of humor and energy helps.
  • Project Work Time

Block 6: Project Analysis (2.5, 2.6, 2.7)

  • Gallery Walk & SAQ Writing. The students will have a graphic organizer to focus them on particular aspects of the projects they are viewing. After the gallery walk students will write a comparative SAQ. So much of the content from topics 2.5 – 2.7 is already covered separately as a part of individual trade routes that I did not see a reason I could not address all of these in a single day as part of a “capstone” activity with the projects.

Block 7: DBQ Time

  • All the DBQ skills have been introduced, so this is just about putting them together into a single essay. I usually use a DBQ from the AMSCO text on sub-saharan African achievements in the period 1200-1450, but have also seen a good Black Death DBQ that I am tempted to use. I will probably end up using the Africa DBQ again since I spent less time on African content in unit one. Either way, we just go through the rubric, take a look at a couple of examples of various skills in the context of an essay, and go over general tips for argumentation clarity and organization. The first DBQ is always formative and then I ramp up which points I hold students summatively accountable for over the course of the first semester. I never hold them accountable for the complexity (unicorn) point even thought I teach it.

As I post this I am nearly done teaching through the unit. All that is left is the project analysis and the DBQ; I am hoping both go as well as everything else has thus far. I will likely update this post with some images of new projects once they are all turned in.

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