Lesson Plans

How Did I Become the Person I Am?


  1. Geography (Longitude, Latitude, 23rd Parallel, Map Skills)
    1. Explain how longitude and latitude are essential in a trek similar to Paul Salopek’s.
    2. Analyze the significance of the 23rd Parallel to human origins and migration.
    3. Map migration and settlement conflicts.
  2. Research
    1. Compare and contrast primary and secondary sources of information about historical migrations of humans.
  3. Common Human Origins
    1. Identify varying accounts of human origins.
  4. Human Migration and Development (Causes, Effects, Connections to Current Migration and Development of Humans, Political Unrest)
    1. Compare and contrast the varying accounts of human origins.
    2. List and explain the causes of human migration and development.
    3. Identify and explain the effects of human migration and development.
    4. Make connections among historical human migrations and the current migrations and continued human development.
  5. Religion
    1. Explain how religion relates to human migration.
  6. Environmental Changes (Causes, Effects, Natural Resources, Urbanization, Connections to Current Environmental Changes)
    1. Summarize the causes of environmental change.
    2. List and explain the effects of environmental changes.
    3. Analyze the way in which natural resources have influenced environmental changes.
    4. Explain how urbanization has influenced environmental changes.
    5. Make connections among historical climate changes and the current climate changes that are occurring.
  7. Political Influences on Human Migration and Development (Causes, Effects, Outcomes)
    1. Explain how politics throughout history have caused mass human migrations.
    2. Determine how political unrest affects human migration and development.

Key Terms:

  • Pilgrimage
  • Migration
  • Extinction
  • Urbanization
  • Natural Science
  • Mutations
  • Nomads
  • Longitude
  • Latitude
  • 23rd Parallel

Lesson Plan and Activities:

1. Conduct group discussions outlining the successes and obstacles that Paul Salopek might experience on this trek to trace the origin and development of human beings. Use a collaborative tool such as Etherpad to collect thoughts and opinions and analyze data. Share this information with the class orally or on a class wiki.
2. Use World Mapper or another such site to collect data on historical world-wide migration. Present the data using charts and graphs. Use this data for the written work listed later.
3. Use a site such as Glogster to create multimedia posters online outlining the path Paul Salopek is walking, adding text, movies, audio and images to visualize the problems or issues he is encountering along the way. Students link individual glogs to others that share a connection or have a deeper explanation of a particular topic/issue.
4. Use the charts, graphs and data created, in addition to the group discussion data, to create an Infographic on Pikto Chart or another service. Share created infographic on the class wiki, blog or website.
5. Interview of individuals who have migrated to the United States. Prepare a list of questions for the interview that explore the interviewee’s reasons for leaving his/her home country, the obstacles that he/she encountered along the journey to the United States, the benefits from the journey and the settlement in the final destination in the United States, and any changes that modern migrants might experience in themselves. The students should not only collect information from the interviews, but also they should storyboard their information, and present the information to the class to demonstrate their media editing skills. Use Digital Storytelling wiki to share the interview and information on a class or school wiki. In addition to a written interview summary, students can record the interview as an audio or video file and edit with Audacity(PC)/Garageband (mac/iPad) or Windows Movie Maker (PC) /iMovie (mac/iPad). These podcast (audio) or vidcast (video) files can be embedded on the same wiki.
6. Create a blog about human origins and migrations of humans around the world that can be maintained by the discussion groups to obtain information and opinions from students around the world. This should be a collaborative blog with the various discussion groups posting on different topics or points of view. One RSS feed will allow the reader to have everything under one URL address, but blog can be filtered according to categories or authors.

7. Debate: Both Sides of the Statement: “Migration of humans from the beginning of their time on Earth to modern day has had a profound effect on the Earth, its resources and people.” Collaboratively, the students and teacher should create a rubric with criteria and descriptors for evaluating the debates.

8. Use a backchannel (private chatroom), such as Today's Meet to allow students to collaboratively take live notes of the debate, add questions that the moderator of the debate might use to ask further questions. Students have the ability to use the backchannel log to later review and harvest important points made or information shared.
9. Use Google Docs to have students write collaboratively, peer edit, leave comments and suggestions for each other and aid in the editing process. Shift from “turning in writing process samples to “sharing” writing in order to make the writing process transparent and improve editing opportunities.
10. Mine the Pulitzer Center website for opportunities that exist for student journalists to submit written, digital, and photographic essays addressing the problem of mass migrations of humans. Use data to support the opinion expressed in the essay that you will be submitting.
11. Submit the essays to the Pulitzer Center competition as groups or individuals.
12. Create a collaborative, annotated digital map at Google Maps. This could be created among students of your class or collaborating with another class following Paul Salopek’s journey. Add different placemarks to locations of the walk. Students need to choose a title for each placemark and add a short summary of events taking place during Paul’s walk.
13. As the Walk out of Eden progresses, students create a visual dictionary of vocabulary words they are studying, are unfamiliar with or consider important to the context of the journey. They can use presentation software, such as PowerPoint (PC), Keynote (mac/iPad app) or PicCollage (iPad app) to create these visual dictionaries. Students will continue adding words, definitions and visuals as the walk progresses.


  1. Collection of group discussion data on human migration and development.
  2. Charts, graphs, and data created on World Mapper or another such website to indicate migration of the earth’s people in modern times.
  3. Summary of data collected on migration trends and conclusions shared on a class wiki.
  4. Multimedia posters that indicate the path of the walk “Out of Eden” to show students’ skills in media literacy and the connection between content and media.
  5. Infographic demonstrating understanding and correlation between charts, graphs and data generated and collected in previous assessments or activities
  6. Digital Storytelling: Data with the list of questions for the interview and the spontaneous follow-up questions.
  7. Digital Storytelling: Audio or video media presentation of the interviews and information collected.
  8. Summary of discussions on blogs and explanation of possible solutions to the problem of massive migration of humans.
  9. Debate and evaluation of arguments on both sides of the statement, “Migration of humans from the beginning of their time on Earth to modern day has had a profound effect on the Earth, its resources and people."
  10. Backchannel log as a review and assessment tool to check for student understanding of the points made during the debate.
  11. Final Assessment: Written, digital, or photographic policy brief in which the students discuss the ethics, problems, and solutions of human migration, which is housed on a class wiki and could be shared at a symposium on migration.
  12. Google Maps gives insight to students’ understanding of relationship between geographic location and global issues, historic and modern events or Paul Salopek’s experiences and current news.
  13. Visual dictionary entries and quality of the entries.


Educator Notes: 
This curriculum was created by Dr. Heidi Hayes Jacobs and her Curriculum 21 faculty. This lesson aligns with Common Core State Standards for Grade 6-8 History/Social Studies and Writing.


Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources.


Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.


Identify key steps in a text's description of a process related to history/social studies (e.g., how a bill becomes law, how interest rates are raised or lowered)


Identify aspects of a text that reveal an author's point of view or purpose (e.g., loaded language, inclusion or avoidance of particular facts).


Integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts.


Distinguish among fact, opinion, and reasoned judgment in a text.


Analyze the relationship between a primary and secondary source on the same topic.


Write arguments focused on discipline-specific content.


Introduce claim(s) about a topic or issue, acknowledge and distinguish the claim(s) from alternate or opposing claims, and organize the reasons and evidence logically.


Support claim(s) with logical reasoning and relevant, accurate data and evidence that demonstrate an understanding of the topic or text, using credible sources.


Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the argument presented.


Write informative/explanatory texts, including the narration of historical events, scientific procedures/ experiments, or technical processes.


Introduce a topic clearly, previewing what is to follow; organize ideas, concepts, and information into broader categories as appropriate to achieving purpose; include formatting (e.g., headings), graphics (e.g., charts, tables), and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.


Develop the topic with relevant, well-chosen facts, definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples.


Use appropriate and varied transitions to create cohesion and clarify the relationships among ideas and concepts.


Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to inform about or explain the topic.


Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the information or explanation presented.


Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.


With some guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on how well purpose and audience have been addressed.


Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and present the relationships between information and ideas clearly and efficiently.


Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, using search terms effectively; assess the credibility and accuracy of each source; and quote or paraphrase the data and conclusions of others while avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.

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