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Lesson Plans Library 6-8 > Geography
Africa Today image
Africa Today
Grade level: 6-8 Subject: Geography Duration: Three class periods

lesson plan support
Students will
  • use what they learned in the program to discuss how children in Africa are affected by AIDS;
  • read an article or Web site on this topic and analyze and summarize what they learned; and
  • create a small poster inspired by the article, including images, excerpts, data, and quotes.
  • Computer with Internet access
  • Materials to create poster presentation (markers, colored pencils, glue, scissors, poster board)
  • Africa Today video and VCR (or DVD and DVD player)
  1. After watching the video segment called "Medical Crisis in Africa", have students discuss what they learned. Were they surprised by the facts presented? What people or stories made the biggest impact on them? What are some reasons that AIDS has had such a devastating and far-reaching effect in Africa? What are some challenges that health-care workers face in treating all those affected by AIDS? Why does the disease continue to spread?

  2. Talk about the ways that AIDS is affecting children in Africa.(Many are born with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Many lose parents, aunts, uncles, and other family members to AIDS.)

  3. Tell the class that they are going to learn more about children in Africa who are affected by AIDS. Working with a partner, students will read an article on this topic, summarize what they learned, and then create a poster with images, excerpts, quotes, and data. Since this is such a timely topic, students can find a wealth of articles in recent newspapers, magazines, or Web sites. You may also choose to use some of the articles listed below, or use the Web sites as a starting point.

  4. Although each pair of students should read the same article, have them read their article and address the issues below on their own.

    • What was the main theme of this article?
    • Write a brief outline showing the main points and supporting details of the article.
    • Summarize the article in one paragraph.
    • Find an excerpt from the article that was particularly powerful or meaningful. (You may choose a sentence or phrase, or just a few words.)
    • Find one quote from this article that you found compelling, persuasive, or poignant.
    • Find one piece of data or statistic that supported the main theme of the article.
    • Describe one image that was included with this article. How did this image support or enhance the article?
    • Describe any charts are graphs included in the article. What surprising fact did you learn from this data?
  5. When students have answered the questions above, have them share their answers with their partners. Then have the partners create a small poster inspired by the article. Their poster should include an excerpt, one fact or piece of data, a quote, and an image (sketched, copied, or printed from the article). If they would like additional statistics for their article, share the following website:Worldwide HIV & AIDS Orphans Statistics

  6. Have students present and hang their posters. You may also want to encourage kids to take action by raising awareness in their school or raising money to donate to causes devoted to children affected by AIDS in Africa. For a list of organizations devoted to the fight against AIDS in Africa, go to:

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Use the following three-point rubric to evaluate students' work during this lesson.
  • Three points:Students were highly engaged in class discussions, showed strong reading comprehension, created a detailed poster including all of the requested information.
  • Two points:Students participated in class discussions, showed satisfactory reading comprehension, created an adequate poster including most of the requested information.
  • One point:Students participated minimally in class discussions, showed weak reading comprehension, created an incomplete poster with little or none of the requested information.

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For the "One Girl's Life" segment:Discuss some of daily responsibilities of Asbeth, the 11-year-old girl featured. Have students imagine that they have some of these responsibilities, such as finding water for the family, looking after siblings, cooking, and cleaning. How would their days be different? What activities would they have to sacrifice? Ask each student to write a short journal entry describing what a typical day might be like.

For the "School for Girls" segment:As a class, compare the school in Tanzania to your own school. What subjects are taught in both schools? What subjects are not taught in your school? On the board, draw a web or "wheel" to show the impact of the school in Tanzania. Put the school in the middle of the web, surrounded by all the people and places that benefit from the school. Then have students describe in writing how your school affects the lives of the students, their families, and your community.

For the "Living on the Forest's Edge" segment:Discuss the problem of deforestation in Ghana. What natural resource is being lost? What are some products that are being sold and exported? Who is primarily responsible for cutting down the forests? How does make the problem more challenging? Why do the farmers have to move every two to three years? As a class, learn more about the effects of slash-and-burn agricultural practices. Divide students into three groups, and have them research one of three sets of questions: 1) What is slash and burn? Why is it done? Where is it done? 2) What impact does it make on the environment? How does it affect the people who do it? 3) What can be done to prevent this practice? What can be done to improve the land that's been affected by this practice?

For the "Oil vs. Soil" segment:Talk about the ways that oil drilling is affecting the environment and people in Nigeria. Besides unsafe drilling practices, oil spills are also polluting the land. Ask students to research one major oil spill and record important facts, such as when, where, and why it happened, as well as how it affected the environment and the wildlife, and what steps were taken to clean up after the disaster. Students will find background at the following Web sites:

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AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome)
Definition:The final, life-threatening stage of infection with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
Context:Of the 40 million people worldwide who have AIDS, about 75 percent live in Africa.

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus)
Definition:A virus that causes AIDS; this virus severely damages the immune system by infecting and destroying certain white blood cells.
Context:A person who tests positive for HIV does not necessarily have AIDS.

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The National Council for Geographic Education(NCGE) provides 18 national geography standards that the geographically informed person knows and understands. To view the standards online, go to

This lesson plan addresses the following NCGE standards:

  • Environment and Society

The National Council for the Social Studies(NCSS) has developed national standards to provide guidelines for teaching social studies. To become a member of the NCSS, or to view the standards online, go to

This lesson plan addresses the following thematic standards:

  • Culture
  • People, Places, and Environments
  • Individuals, Groups, and Institutions

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Joy Brewster, curriculum writer, editor, and consultant

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