Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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LINK: Social Studies in Action Home Image of a middle school student.
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About the Class
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About the Class

Classroom Profile | Lesson Background

Justin Zimmerman.

"We focus on global issues. I think it's extremely important for students to be able to understand what's going on in the world, because they will be members of our global world one day, and they will be making the decisions. If they don't understand what's going on, they're not going to make decisions properly. Social studies plays a very important role."
-- Justin Zimmerman

 Year at a Glance

Justin Zimmerman teaches sixth-grade social studies at Magnolia Middle School in Joppa, Maryland. Located in a rural community 20 miles north of Baltimore, Magnolia Middle School draws from the broad socioeconomic diversity of the surrounding Chesapeake Bay area. The community supports two military installations, local agriculture, and a range of professions. The school also reflects the community's ethnic diversity: Approximately 60 percent of the students are Caucasian, 30 percent are African American, and 10 percent are Hispanic.

Mr. Zimmerman began the year with a unit on conflict resolution. This unit was designed to teach students how to acknowledge and deal with controversial issues that may surface in a class discussion, and to help students understand the complexity of conflict resolution at the national and international levels. In the next unit -- on the five themes of geography -- students identified geographic regions and developed their mapping skills.

In the units that followed, students examined six different world regions, with an emphasis throughout the year on global connections. For example, in the unit on the Americas, students examined the global impact of Latin American migration. In the unit on Brazil, students learned about the importance of the Brazilian Rain Forest and the reasons for and worldwide consequences of its destruction. The unit on Japan focused on the global impact of trade balances and trade agreements, war, and education. By this time, Mr. Zimmerman expected his students to be able to work together in small groups, to consider opposing points of view, and to acknowledge the impact that one country's actions can have on other countries.

Mr. Zimmerman launched a unit on the Middle East with the video lesson, "The Middle East Conflict." This lesson was designed to "set the stage" and to gauge what students might already know about the region from following current events. The class began by studying the geography of the region, its most valuable natural resource (oil), and its significance as the birthplace of three of the world's major religions. These three issues -- geography, oil, and religion -- are key to understanding the tempestuous history of the Middle East, including the Arab-Israeli conflict. This lesson was followed by lessons on the Persian Gulf War, U.S. interests in the region, and prospects for peace.

Lesson Background >>


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