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6-8 > Geography
Grade level: 6-8 Subject: Geography Duration: Two class periods
Objectives | Materials | Procedures | Adaptations | Discussion Questions | Evaluation | Extensions | Suggested Readings | Vocabulary | Academic Standards | Credit
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Students will understand:
1. how and why people build structures; and
2. how structures can reflect a culture’s beliefs and values.

The class will need the following:
Pens, pencils, markers
World map
Large index cards
Reference materials about world landmarks
Internet access
Classroom Activity Sheet: A Survey of World Landmarks

1. Discuss with students why people build structures. Ask them to name important structures in their hometown or state. Help students understand that structures usually serve a function, but they can also serve as symbols that identify a place or represent a cultural belief or value of a place. Such structures are called landmarks. Two famous landmarks are the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty. Ask students what places and beliefs these two landmarks represent. You may want to share the following summaries with your students:
  • The Eiffel Tower is located in Paris, France. It was built in 1889, and at 300 meters was the tallest building in the world. The tower was met with mixed emotions when it was first built. Many Parisians believed its iron framework was an eyesore, despite the kudos it received as an architectural feat. Over time, the Eiffel Tower has become a well-known symbol of Paris.
  • The Statue of Liberty is in New York Harbor, in New York City. France presented the statue in 1884 to honor the United States’ hundred-year anniversary of independence from Britain. The statue has since stood as a universal symbol of freedom and democracy and has greeted tourists and immigrants entering the United States from all over the world.
2. Tell students that they will research some of the world’s most famous landmarks. Have students choose partners to work with. Allow each pair the opportunity to choose from the list of landmarks below, but make sure that all the landmarks listed have been chosen. Suggested Web sites accompany each landmark:

The Leaning Tower of Pisa


The Golden Gate Bridge

The Empire State Building

Mount Rushmore

The Great Pyramid of Giza

Taj Mahal


The Great Wall of China

The Colosseum

Angkor Wat

Additional Research Links:

Forgotten, Modern, and Natural Wonders

The Great Buildings Collection

3. Distribute the Classroom Activity Sheet: A Survey of World Landmarks. Partners can begin working on their activity sheets cooperatively in class, and they can complete any remaining questions for homework.
4. Partners will then work together to use information from their activity sheet to create a landmark information card. On an index card, students should draw or find a small picture of the landmark and include important facts from their activity sheets. Encourage students to be creative.
5. When students have finished making their landmark cards, they should present their cards to the class as oral reports. Afterwards, students can place their landmark cards in the correct locations on a world map.
6. Have a follow-up discussion so students can compare and contrast what they learned about the landmarks. How have landmarks changed throughout history? What are some common reasons people build landmarks? What are some common beliefs and ideals reflected by landmarks throughout history?
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Have students choose five landmarks, each from a different historical period. Students should work independently to complete the activity sheet and create five landmark information cards. When students have finished, they should arrange their cards along a time line. Group students according to historical periods such as ancient history, the Renaissance, or modern age (post-World War II). Have each group prepare an oral report about the type of structures built during a specific period. Students will use the information on their landmark cards and their research about the period.
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Discussion Questions

1. For what different reasons do people build awe-inspiring structures?
2. Which landmark do you believe is the most spectacular? Why?
3. How have characteristics, or features, of landmarks remained the same throughout history? How have they changed?
4. Discuss landmarks in different parts of the world. How are they alike? How are they different?
5. The Egyptian pyramids and other structures have withstood the test of time. What modern-day structures do you think will be around in the year 3000?
6. What do you think is the most important characteristic that a landmark must have? Explain.
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You can evaluate partners on their projects using the following three-point rubric:
  • Three points:conducted research on their landmark and completed the Classroom Activity Sheet; worked cooperatively to choose a picture and combine their research findings; presented information in a class presentation that is concise and engaging; placed their landmark card in the correct location on the world map.
  • Two points: conducted research on their landmark and completed most of the Classroom Activity Sheet; worked cooperatively to choose a picture and combine research findings; presented information in a competent report; placed their landmark card in the correct location on the world map.
  • One point:conducted research on their landmark and completed some of the Classroom Activity Sheet; worked together to choose a picture and combine their research findings; presented their information with difficulty; could not place their landmark card in the correct location on the world map.
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You Are There
Challenge students to create a magazine or news report about what it was like on the opening day of a famous world landmark. If actual reports aren’t available, encourage students to research how important ceremonies were held at that time. Encourage students to use their imaginations to describe the events as if they were at the scene, seeing the landmark for the very first time.

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Suggested Readings

The Great Wall (A Wonders of the World Book)
Elizabeth Mann.Mikaya Press, 1997.
The Great Wall of China is one of the world’s most amazing constructions. Follow the history of the making of this wall and the events in China’s history that led to an engineering effort that took more than two hundred years and hundreds of thousands of workers to make. Lots of drawings bring these events to life.

The Medieval Castle (Building History Series)
Don Nardo. Lucent Books, 1998.
The development of medieval castles has its roots in early fortified towns and military fortresses. This book, as part of a series looking at world history through architecture, explains the factors that led to the construction of the medieval castle and its classic elements such as moats, towers, baileys, and the keep. Using illustrations and occasional informational inserts, a picture is painted not only of castle structure, but what life was like for those living in the castle.

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Definition:A formal act or series of acts typically conducted elaborately, solemnly, and directed by a religious, state, courtly, social, or tribal procedure.
Context:Most cultures have aceremonyfor weddings and other important events.

Definition:The stage of cultural development marked by urbanization, advanced techniques of agriculture and technology, expanded population, and complex social organization.
Context:The Egyptians had an advancedcivilization—they had mastered complex skills related to architecture, agriculture, astronomy, mathematics, and writing.

Definition:The intellectual and artistic content of a civilization.
Context:Museums are great places to learn about thecultureof an ancient civilization.

Definition:A structure that characterizes a locality.
Context:Two famouslandmarksin New York City are the World Trade Towers and the Empire State Building.

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This lesson plan may be used to address the academic standards listed below. These standards are drawn from Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education: 2nd Edition and have been provided courtesy of theMid-continent Research for Education and Learningin Aurora, Colorado.
Grade level:6-8
Subject area:Geography
Understands that culture and experience influence people’s perceptions of places and regions.
Knows how places and regions serve as cultural symbols (e.g., Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco; Opera House in Sydney, Australia; Gateway Arch in St. Louis; Tower Bridge in London).

Grade level:6-8
Subject area:Geography
Understands that culture and experience influence people’s perceptions of places and regions.
Knows the ways in which culture influences the perception of places and regions (e.g., religion and other belief systems, language, and tradition; perceptions of “beautiful” or “valuable”).

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Audrey Carangelo, freelance curriculum developer.
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