The “Big Ideas” Addressed by the Benchmarks

The World in Spatial Terms benchmark (PI.7.1), and the Human and Physical Characteristics in Spatial Terms benchmarks (PI.7.2 and PI.7.3) specify that students will come to understand that

  1. geographic representations (such as maps, graphs, diagrams, photographs, and satellite-produced images) can supply information about the physical and human characteristics of a place
  2. the geographic makeup of coral, continental, and volcanic islands directly affects the Pacific region’s resource base, which in turn affects the region’s potential for economic development
This unit includes Pacific Island Economies, a resource developed by James Mak, emeritus professor of economics at University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, is essential reading for teachers. Designed as a classroom reading for students, it is useful in understanding how the physical characteristics of Pacific Island entities affect their economic resources and their potential for economic development.

Lesson one is designed to hook students' interest. It introduces them to the physical characteristics of islands in the Pacific region, also known as Oceania. It also introduces them to the ways that the physical characteristics of an island might influence its inhabitants' daily activities and the ways they go about obtaining, and going beyond, the basic necessities of life.
Examples of student work for Lesson one:

Lesson two is the centerpiece of the unit. It uses a matrix to guide students in gathering information about the physical and human characteristics of a particular place, or location. Students work in groups to research an assigned Pacific Island entity, with particular attention to how economic activities are related to its physical and human characteristics, including demographics.

Lesson three asks the students to create a product or performance that compares a high-island entity and a low-island entity, with particular emphasis on the relationship between the physical and human characteristics of a location, including its demographics and economic activities.
Examples of student work for Lesson three:

Lesson four is an optional extension activity.

For more information on data gathering, choice of entities, and an overall unit plan, click here.

For the complete Pacific Places unit description and plan, which includes all four lessons and Jim Mak's Pacific Islands Economies, click here.

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