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Overview

Essential Purpose

Students will study the places where civilization began, how civilization started in those places, and how unique patterns of culture are formed in those places.

Places across the world differ in large part because of their exposure to different cultures. The major ancient world’s cultures occupied distinct locations called cultural hearths: North China Plain (Chinese); Indus and Ganges (Indian/Hindu); Mesopotamia (Egyptian, Indo-European); Greece, Rome, Saudi Arabia (Islam), Inland West Africa; Highland/Lowland Guatemala (Mayan); Valley of Mexico (Aztec); and Peru (Inca). From these cultural hearths, distinctive languages and religions spread out at different times to encompass communities at various distances away from the center.


Ancient Cultural Hearths: Mesopotamia and the Aztecs of Mexico

Places may be defined as locations with character. A place occupies a given location on the Earth’s surface, called its site. That site contains a unique combination of physical environmental conditions: climate, landforms, soils, and vegetation. It also contains people with distinct cultural attributes who modify the environment to create a distinctive place. Places, however, reflect one additional attribute, their location relative to all other places, or their situation. Places close together can expect to have more interaction – trade, information flow, human migration – than places farther apart and thus be more subject to change over time. Isolated places change little. Evaluating a location’s site and situation allows identification of those distinctive characteristics that make it a unique place.

National Geography Standards

Geography Standard 6 (grades 5-8): How culture and experience influence people’s perception of places and regions

By the end of the 8th grade, the student knows and understands:

  1. How personal characteristics affect our perception of places and regions
  2. how culture and technology affect perception of places and regions
  3. how places and regions serve as cultural symbols
Therefore, the student is able to:
Evaluate the characteristics of places and regions from a variety of points of view

State/Local Standards

States should align these modules to their own state/local standards as appropriate

Essential Questions

What makes a place culturally unique? Under what conditions do cultures spread?

Essential Content

21st Century Skills

Transfer Task

This summative assessment is a transfer task that requires students to use knowledge and understandings to perform a task in a new setting or context.

The assessment and scoring guide should be reviewed with students prior to using the lessons in the module. Students should do the assessment after the lessons have been completed.

Essential Question Measured by the Summative Assessment

Printable Student View

Prior Knowledge
Problem
Role/
Perspective
Product
Criteria for an Exemplary Response
Now that you have examined the places where civilization began, how civilization got started, and how unique patterns of culture are formed, you are ready to explain the cultural patterns of other places.

A major American corporation is about to send employees overseas for the first time. These employees will be responsible for opening a new foreign headquarters of the corporation and will have to hire new workers locally.The American corporation wants to ensure that its new division gets off to a good start. Its employees must be careful not to offend the people of the country where its new headquarters will be located.

You are a college Geography professor. You are hired by the American corporation to prepare a training session for the employees that have been chosen to start the new division of the company overseas.

The recommendations you give during the training session should focus on what employees should expect while living in a new culture and country. Include advice on cultural attributes such as language, religion, clothing, diet, local laws, and government structure. You should also compare the place with other places that might be familiar to an American employee.

Be sure to include in your briefing:

  • recommendations about what employees should expect while living in a new culture and country;
  • advice on such cultural attributes as language, religion, clothing, diet, local laws, and government structure;
  • a comparison of the place with other places that might be familiar to an American employee;
  • a description of what makes this place unique.

Scoring Guide