As part of my 9th grade unit on European Exploration and my continued effort to not use the textbook until 2011 (that effort will undoubtedly continue through the new year), I decided to use part two of Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel video to end the unit. My goal / objective was to have the students examine European exploration from a new perspective, one that isn't mentioned in the textbook, one that would force them to reconsider what they have typically assumed about this concept.
After watching the film (we spent two days, covering roughly 25 minutes of content during a 50 minute period) and reviewing our notes, the students were given the opportunity to debate and demonstrate their understanding of Diamond's theory. Ultimately, my goal was to have the students consider the significance, relationship and importance of the many advantages the Europeans had over the native peoples of the new world.
As I have mentioned in previous posts, I used Triptico's "Word Magnets Tool" to have students visually plot their perspective on Diamond's ideas. While watching the film, we identified seven advantages:
Guns, Germs, Steel, Animals, Farming, Writing & Geography. Using Word Magnets, I created two
scales that the students would have to take into consideration when rating each advantage.
X Axis = Not Important - Important
Y Axis = Skill - Luck
In my quest to keep technology integration as inexpensive and reasonable as possible, I have to mention that Triptico's application is free to download (thanks to some very impressive work by David) and I have students manipulate the magnets with a wiimote IWB (thanks to some very impressive thinking by Johnny Lee).