New World Colonist Recruitment Infomercial

This lesson can be used with The United States: An Open Ended History, a free online textbook.  Adapted in part from open sources.

Each settlement in colonial America had its own identity and reason for being, whether that reason was economic, religious, or social, or some blend of the three – and they were all usually intensely competitive with their neighbors in these aims. Imagine that you are a representative from what we would today call that colony’s “Welcome Center,” trying to attract new settlers. These didn’t exist in the 1600s, per se, but if they did, what kind of ad campaign might they have created to lure settlers to their colony?

Create a comprehensive, informational commercial. You can act it out or record it and play it back.

You are responsible for creating a factually robust and informative presentation – that is also persuasive.  It may be filmed, but only if your recorded volume is loud enough for the class to hear and understand.  It may also be performed live.  Be sure to illustrate each segment with stimulating visuals.

Students should also be creative in their commercial while remaining historically accurate. 

Your commercial should be between one and two minutes in length.

The following features must be in the commercial—

  1. Map of your colony circa the 17th century
  2. Geography: description of land, sights, and climate
  3. People that settlers will encounter
  4. Occupations: How will settlers support themselves? What kind of work will they find?
  5. Mentions of history: When and why was the colony founded? (up to about 1700)
  6. Food: What will the travelers eat? What foods are native to the area?
  7. Transportation: How will the travelers get to the colony? How will they travel around the colony?  What are the major transportation routes and hubs in your colony?
  8. Religion: What churches have been established in the colony, or what are the practices of the indigenous people?  What religious groups are banned?
  9. Persuasion: Be sure to encourage settlers to travel and stay in the colony – why here and not a different colony?

Use at least one of the following…  The seven most common techniques of propaganda used in advertising:

  • Testimonial – The ever-popular celebrity endorsement.
  • Glittering Generalities – Praise and positive words that are hard to measure or quantify – think “best,” “great,” “I’m lovin’ it.”
  • Transfer – The qualities of the product transfer to the consumer – think of a sports car or soda commercial.  You, too, can be cool, if you have the right cell phone.
  • Plain Folks – An appeal to values, working class, family, nationalism, thrift – “Made in America,” “fair trade,” “real men,” or “the best value for your dollar.”
  • Bandwagon – Everybody’s doing it – don’t be left out or left behind!
  • Name Calling – Trash talking or put downs toward the competition.
  • Card Stacking – The omission of inconvenient or unflattering facts about your own product; the emphasis of those same kind of facts when talking about competing products.

For inspiration (see if you can spot the techniques listed above in action): 

Hawaii Chair.

Americans will buy ANYTHING 4! Top 10 Worst Infomercials.

Want to be a better person? Travel can make it happen.

Mark Twain once wrote, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.”

That is pretty much the sentiment upon which this entire site was founded, but did you know that there is science to back up that wonderful idea?

Check out some of ways in which travel can open up your world and sharpen your mind.

Travel really can make you a better person – why not use it to teach right in your own classroom with some of these great lesson ideas from Openendedsocialstudies?

  • Live From Moscow, 2018:
  • New Horizons in Peru and Bolivia, Travel Writing:
    • Adventure Blog.
    • A Guided Tour of Bolivia, 2016 – Explore the streets of La Paz and El Alto, scramble through the 500 year-old silver mines of Potosi, or race across the barren salt flats of Uyuni.  Supplementary photos and information on Bolivia, past and present.
    • A Guided Tour of Peru, 2016 – Explore the streets of Cusco and Lima, scramble through Inca ruins from Machu Picchu on down, take a slow boat up the Amazon River from Iquitos, and an even slower boat across Lake Titicaca to the floating man-made islands of the Uros.  Supplementary photos and information on Peru, past and present.
  • TEACH in Bahrain, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates, Travel Writing:
    • Adventure Blog.
    • A Guided Tour of the Gulf States is a curated photo essay.  Stroll the streets of Manama and Doha, ride to the top of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, witness the grandeur of Islamic architecture at the Sheikh Zayed Mosque before spending the evening dune bashing with high-paying tourists in the sands of Abu Dhabi.
  • An American in Cuba, Travel Writing:
  • A Guided Tour of Maya Mexico, 2017 – Explore the ruins of Ek’ Balam, Uxmal, and Chichen Itza, scramble through streets of colonial Merida, and sample the cuisine and culture of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.  Supplementary photos and information on the Yucatan, past and present.
  • Scenes from Cambodia, 2014 – supplementary photos to enhance a sense of place.
  • Scenes from China, 2015 – supplementary photos to enhance a sense of place.
  • Scenes from Nicaragua, 2015 – supplementary photos to enhance a sense of place.
  • A Guided Tour of Moscow, 2017 – Explore Red Square and Gorky Park, race through the Moscow Metro, and participate in the 2017 Victory Day celebrations commemorating the end of World War II.  Supplementary photos and information about Moscow, Russia.
  • Scenes from South Korea, 2015 – From the glistening towers of Seoul to the DMZ, from the bustle of downtown to the sanctuary of its Buddhist monasteries – supplementary photos to enhance a sense of place.

 

The Youth are the Conscience of the Nation

Here’s a perennial question facing the idealistic youth of any nation: What would you do if you found yourself surrounded by a violent, unjust system?  What if your society was rife with rampant inequality?  What if you were a beneficiary of this system – if your privilege came at the cost of others’ suffering?

Bartolomé de Las Casas found himself living in such a society – conquest-era colonial Spain – and he risked everything to speak out.

Would you have done the same?

Would you do the same today?

Ask your students —

Bartolomé de Las Casas and the Atrocities of the Spanish Conquistadors (Free online text suited for middle or high school classroom use, guided reading questions, and suggested activities): What would you do if you found yourself surrounded by a violent, unjust system?  In the early Spanish conquest of the Americas, Bartolomé de Las Casas spoke out.

Awards for “The Dubai Mall” Lesson at Openendedsocialstudies.org

The University of Arizona Center for Middle Eastern Studies has recognized the Openendedsocialstudies lesson The Dubai Mall, Sharia Law, and Social Norms as part of its annual lesson plan competition.  The lesson is adaptable for use in both middle school and high school classrooms, and uses the rules and code of conduct posted at this fabulous mall’s entrance to introduce students to norms of the Arab world.

How and why do social norms and laws in Muslim majority countries differ from those in countries like the United States?  Would students still want to visit greatest mall in the world if it meant following a different set of rules than they’re used to?

Check out our ever growing (and always free!) set of lessons, resources, and activities covering the Middle East.

 

Charles C. Mann on the European Conquest of the Americas

“Cultures are like books, the anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss once remarked, each a volume in the great library of humankind. In the sixteenth century, more books were burned than ever before or since. How many Homers vanished? How many Hesiods? What great works of painting, sculpture, architecture, and music vanished or never were created? Languages, prayers, dreams, habits, and hopes—all gone. And not just once, but over and over again. In our antibiotic era, how can we imagine what it means to have entire ways of life hiss away like steam? How can one assay the total impact of the unprecedented calamity that gave rise to the world we live in? It seems important to try.” – Charles C. Mann, author of 1491.

Openendsocialstudies.org is bringing the remnants of these vibrant cultures to life in your classroom – check out our library of free readings, lessons, and activities on precolumbian American civilizations.

 

Ideas for Teaching about the Ancient Maya

Openendedsocialstudies has just launched a brand new unit for teaching middle or high school classrooms about the ancient Maya.  Find free readings, guided questions, and lesson plan ideas on the following subjects:

  • The Basics of Ancient Maya Civilization – Who were the Maya?  Where did they live and when?
  • The Ancient Maya in Time and Space – How did the Maya interact with their environment?  How did the Maya conceive of themselves and the universe around them?  In European influenced societies, geography, ecology, time, and spirituality are all relatively distinct spheres – not so for the ancient Maya, whose since of time, space, and religion were closely linked.
  • Ancient Maya Society – How was the ancient Maya society structured?  How did they govern and feed themselves?
  • The Maya City – The most durable testament to the grandeur of the ancient Maya are their grand construction projects.  How were these cities made, and what makes them so awe-inspiring?
  • The Written Language of the Maya – Language shapes thoughts, knowledge, and feelings as well as human imagination, so it permeates all aspects of culture – the complexity of the Mayan language is key for understanding the richness of this people.

One great way for students to develop a deeper understanding of a concept is to have them teach others.

  1. Choose any section from this unit and develop a lesson – in the form of a presentation, a storybook, or a worksheet – that teaches younger students about the Maya.  Make sure the material is age appropriate in content and approach, and create some simple questions to check your audience’s understanding.

Find more free lessons on the Maya at Openendsocialstudies.org.  

There are also plenty of free lessons featuring other peoples from world history.

Free Lesson Plans: Understanding the Refugee Experience

Ms. Rita Ulrich, a Fulbright-Hays fellow, traveled to Bulgaria and Greece in 2017 to better understand the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe.  She recently contributed her lessons – detailed text appropriate for the middle or high school classroom, complete with creative activities and guided reading questions.  It’s everything you need to humanize this unfolding human tragedy for your students.

  • Refugees and Human Rights in Bulgaria (Free online text suited for middle or high school classroom use, guided reading questions, and suggested activities): What are refugees, why are they in European countries like Bulgaria, and how is the United Nations involved?
  • The Psychology of a Refugee Crisis (Free online text suited for middle or high school classroom use, guided reading questions, and suggested activities): What psychological dangers do refugees face throughout their journey and during their time searching for safety and a new home?

There are also plenty of free lessons featuring other nations currently in the news.

Learn how you can submit your own work to Openendedsocialstudies.org.

Take a Guided Tour of Maya Mexico, 2017

Explore the ruins of Ek’ Balam, Uxmal, and Chichen Itza, scramble through streets of colonial Merida, and sample the cuisine and culture of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula on this guided photo essay (complete with suggested activities for use in your social studies classroom.)

This photo essay works perfectly in conjunction with the rest of our free Maya unit.

Suggested Activities

  1. Choose any topic described in a photo or caption in this album. Do deeper reading and research on that topic, creating a presentation to share with your class.
  2. Research and plan a realistic travel itinerary through Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula that focuses specifically on its Maya and colonial histories. Explain the historical or cultural relevance of your choices. Present the final itinerary with photos and estimated costs for the whole trip.

IMG_7777

Write a Poem in Ancient Mayan

Here’s an idea to get your social studies students going — have them write a poem using the glyphic script of the ancient Maya. 

Background on the language can be found with this free Openendedsocialstudies lesson plan, The Written Language of the Ancient Maya.  Then, your students can use this dictionary to write a short poem in the Maya script, using at least a dozen glyphs. 

Have students share their poems with the class and reflect — does composing in Mayan effect the experience of writing and reading?

cocao
Chocolate beverages were popular among the ancient Mayas, who used special recipients to serve it. They often consumed it cold, hot, or spiced with chili, annatto, or vanilla. The inscription on this vessel records its function for drinking a specific type of cacao, and the name and place of residence of its owner, Tzakal u K’ahk’ Hutal Ek’, lord of Acanceh.

Find more free lessons on the Maya at Openendsocialstudies.org.  

There are also plenty of free lessons featuring other peoples from world history.

What is Openendedsocialstudies.org?

Open Ended Social Studies collects and presents original and dynamic classroom materials focusing on parts of the world neglected by traditional world history textbooks in the United States.  The middle and high school lessons hosted here aim to foster critical and historical thinking, greater cultural awareness, and a sense of wonder about the world and our place in it. Open Ended Social Studies is free, always growing, and collaborative – please check back and contribute often.

Browse all of the free texts, activities, and lesson plans – all of the chapters missing from your conventional textbook.

Check out the library of travel writing and photography from previous adventures in the field.