Continental Differences

On the first class students usually hear a list or rules and policies. In this lesson, from day one, students will begin to understand the concept of a primary source. Students will (1) gain insight into identifying a primary source; (2) analyze primary sources and predict which continent the source portrays; (3) gain preview knowledge of topics that will be discussed within the first semester; (4) gain experience in procedures that will be used during the year by actually participating in them; and (5) most importantly be able to know and recognize the 7 continents.

Historical Background

The historical background varies according the sources selected to represent each continent. In the materials section, the handout for each of the seven primary sources includes contextual information, along with close reading, sourcing, and a guide for corroboration.

Lesson Objective

Students will be able to identify the 7 continents and be familiar with some information about each continent that will be examined in later lessons.



  1. Students will walk into class the first day and observe that they are seated in groups of 3-4. They will find their seats (predetermined by teacher) and begin looking at the primary source that is at their group station.
  2. Someone in the class will notice that directions are written on the board. This teaches the procedure that their instructions for the day will always be posted in the same place on the board everyday.
  3. The hook is getting students wondering why, on the first day of school, do they have these assorted pictures on their desks and what are they supposed to do with them.
  4. After I take attendance and make sure students know they are supposed to bring in a notebook, I will clarify directions on the board.
  5. Students will have a sheet of paper at their group on which to write all their observations
  6. The 4 levels of Historical Thinking skills will be revealed individually, so students will focus on just one question at a time. Close Reading: What do you see? List words that seem important. List details of images. Sourcing: What is your source? When do you think it was produced? Contextualizing: What are clues you know from prior knowledge that help you formulate a guess about the continent from which your source comes? Corroborating: Join with another group and present your findings to each other. Does each group agree with the other’s analysis? Why or why not?
  7. Next, students will select a representative from their group to come to the board and select a continent that the group thinks is represented by the primary source assigned. As a class discussion, groups will present their source and continent choice. Other groups will agree or offer reasons why they think the continent choice could be something else.


After collecting the worksheets that students used to close read their primary source, I will give each student an exit ticket to gauge their knowledge of the names and locations of the 7 continents. This will be a formative assessment.


Brinton, Henry. “Aboriginal Australian man hunting kangaroo.” Drawing. 1846. State Library of Victoria. (accessed July 28, 2012).

Zaborney, Walter PH1. “EASTWIND (WAGB-279); Antarctic Operation Deep Freeze I (1955-56); PENGUIN DRILL TEAM with a stalwart leader at the head troops past the U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker EASTWIND in a show of strength against the intruder to their domain at McMurdo Sound, Antarctica.” Photograph. Antarctica: U.S. Coast Guard, 1956. (accessed July 29, 2012).

Unknown artist. “Elizabeth I: The Armada Portrait.” Painting. 1588. (accessed July 28, 2012).

Remington, Frederic. “Coronado, Francisco: searching for the Seven Cities of Cíbola.” Drawing. Britannica Online for Kids. (accessed June 29, 2012).

De Wit, Frederik. “Antiquarian Maps – South America.” 1675. (accessed June 28, 2012).

Dodd, Miranda, “Azalei,” photograph website: Timbuktu 2008 (accessed July20, 2012)

Model Si Nan of Han Dynasty, color photograph of artifact model. Wikipedia. Added to website February 4, 2006. (accessed July 23, 2012)

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