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Lesson Plans Library 9-12 > World History
Asia's Expansion: Treasures and Travels image
Asia's Expansion: Treasures and Travels
Grade level: 9-12 Subject: World History Duration: Two class periods

lesson plan support
Students will
  • Review basic information about the Three Gorges Dam.
  • Discuss some of the benefits and drawbacks of the dam.
  • Write an editorial either for or against the dam.
  • Asia's Expansion: Treasures and Travelsvideo and VCR, or DVD and DVD player
  • Up-to-date information about the Three Gorges Dam
  • Computer with Internet access
  1. After watching the video, review basic information about the Three Gorges Dam. You may want to use the following questions to prompt discussion:

    • WHERE is the Three Gorges Dam being built?
    • WHAT is the purpose of the dam?
    • WHEN did the construction begin? When is the water expected to reach its full height?
    • WHO will be affected positively and negatively by the dam's construction?
    • WHY is the dam's construction so controversial?
  2. In your discussions, make sure students understand the following facts:

    • The Three Gorges Dam is being built on the Yangtze River in China.
    • It's the biggest engineering project in China since the Great Wall, and will be the most powerful dam ever built.
    • The dam will be the world's largest producer of hydroelectric power, creating an abundance of non-polluting power for China.
    • Construction began in 1994; completion is expected in 2009.
    • Although the hydroelectric power should help people living in the area, its construction will flood cities, towns, and villages. More than a million people will have to find new places to live.
    • The construction is controversial because the rising waters will engulf shrines, artifacts, and relics from 4,000 years of Chinese civilization. In the Three Gorges area, there are more than 1,200 ancient sites above and below ground. These sites have tremendous historical value, especially regarding the mysterious ancient people called the Ba.
  3. Have students work with a partner to create a list of benefits and drawbacks to the building of the Three Gorges Dam. They should use current print and online resources to learn more about this controversial issue. The following Web sites may provide a good starting point:

  4. Finally, have students work individually to create a written piece expressing their opinion of the construction of the Three Gorges Dam. They can create posters, write editorials, or produce their own mock TV or radio public service announcements. They could also write a letter or journal from the point of view of someone who will be affected by the dam, such as a villager who's being displaced, an archaeologist studying the Ba culture, or the person directing the construction project. Their final pieces should include at least three reasons for or against the construction.

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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; demonstrated a clear understanding of the Three Gorges Dam; showed strong research skills; created a clear and thorough piece including at least three reasons for or against the dam's construction.
  • Two points:Students participated in class discussions; demonstrated an adequate understanding of the Three Gorges Dam; showed on-grade research skills; gave a complete class presentation including three reasons for or against the dam's construction.
  • One point:Students did not participate in class discussions; demonstrated an incomplete understanding of the Three Gorges Dam; showed weak research skills; gave an incomplete class presentation including fewer than three reasons for or against the dam's construction.

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Definition:A scientist who studies the life and culture of ancient peoples by uncovering and identifying buried artifacts.
Context:While an army of construction workers rushes to complete the dam, a small but dedicated group of archaeologists continues the struggle to salvage the past.

Definition:An object made or modified by people and representing a culture or a stage in the development of a culture.
Context:Enough artifacts have been recovered to fill several museums, but there are many more and time is running out.

Definition:A deep, narrow passage between mountains.
Context:Passage through the gorges is strictly controlled by a network of signal stations.

Definition:a place that is considered sacred; a place of worship associated with a god or person
Context:Fengdu, known as "The City of Ghosts," has become a shrine to the gods of the underworld.

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Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL)
McREL's Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education addresses 14 content areas. To view the standards and benchmarks, visit

This lesson plan addresses the following national standards:

  • World History: Era 2 Understands how agrarian societies spread and new states emerged in the third and second millennia BCE; Era 3 Understands how major religious and large-scale empires arose in the Mediterranean Basin, China, and India from 500 BCE to 300 CE; Era 5 Understands the rise of the Mongol Empire and its consequences for Eurasian peoples from 1200 to 1350
  • Geography: Human Systems Understands the patterns of human settlement and their causes
  • Geography: Environment and Society Understands the changes that occur in the meaning, use, distribution and importance of resources.

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

This lesson plan addresses the following thematic standards:

  • Culture
  • People, Places, and Environments
  • Production, Distribution, and Consumption
  • Science, Technology, and Society

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Joy Brewster, curriculum writer, editor, and consultant

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