World History Lesson
Lesson Title: Berlin Conference
Time Frame: 3 class periods
Developed by: Seth A. Roberts
Objective/Essential curriculum objective: This lesson will explore the motivations and actions of Imperialist European Nation in Africa 1865-1900.
Resource Materials: Resource maps of Africa (without political borders), Political Map of Africa circa 1900, and Background sheet on Africa during this era, media center, videotape of a nightly newscast.
Task Description: This is a multi-faceted lesson designed to help students understand the process and importance of international negotiations. They can apply this to the negotiations that they make daily with their teachers, parents, etc. Students will use their map skills to read and claim land on a map of Africa. It is also aimed at giving the student a better understanding of the nightly newscast that they may watch. The teacher will also utilize a current news story to explain and analyze how international negotiations affect each and every American.
The lesson begins with a lecture on imperialism in Africa. The lesson will end with a description of the Berlin conference of 1884-1885. Students will be given a handout describing the Berlin conference, and the students will be broken into groups of 7. One student from each group will be assigned the role of the negotiator from each of the following countries: Great Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, and Italy. Each group will be given a natural resource map of Africa, and the "imperialism game" will be explained to them. Each country will claim land on this map, in the order in which they claimed it in reality with Portugal first, Spain next, followed by Britain, France, Belgium, Germany, and finally Italy. The area of Ethiopia and Somalia is only available to the Italians. Students are instructed with clarity that their first goal is to prevent war with their neighbors. They must consider the reactions of other European nations to their land claims, and listen to objections made in the conference. Students must be aware that any miscalculation may lead to costly and unwanted war. Each country gets a different amount of land. Portugal gets 2 square inches divided any way they like, but must stay within 1 inch of the coasts. Spain may take any land north of the equator, and gets only 1.5 square inches. Great Britain gets 5 square inches and may place them anyplace they like. France goes next and gets 2 square inches. Belgium follows with 2 inches as well. Germany comes next and also gets 2 inches. Finally Italy comes to take the leftovers.
Before the game is played, students will take a trip to the media center to research the actions and motivations of the European nations that they represent. They will use this information in the negotiations for the "land grab" they are participating in. Students are told before going to the library that they will be writing an essay identifying the purpose and significance of the conference, explaining the goals of their country, analyzing how well they met those goals, and examining the obstacles to those goals and how they were overcome. They are also told that they will create a newscast to be presented to the class explaining the conference, its importance, explaining all important aspects of the conference in as professional a manner as possible. Students will be given 45 minutes of library time.
The next day in class will begin with the "playing" of the "game." When the game has been played in each group, the students will begin to write their essays. After 20 minutes of writing time, students will be told to finish the essays for homework. They will be asked to reform their groups and begin to work on the 5-8 minute newscast that they will be giving in the last half of class the next day. One student from each group may have a library pass if the group so requests. The class will watch a 10 minute segment of a newscast that the teacher taped previously as an example of a professional newscast. Students are to script a newscast segment and assign roles to each of the members. Some roles will be "on-camera" and some will not. Students will get a group grade for the Map and for the Newscast. They will get an individual grade for the essay. Rubrics are included in the appendices.
The final day will begin with more time for each group to perfect and practice their newscast. The second half of the class will consist of Newscasts being given and the class doing peer review of the newscasts.