Time: 1 class period
Level: Grades 6-12
Materials: internet connection and projector or prepared powerpoint with maps of the Middle East such as those below
Outcomes: Students will be able to discuss the characteristics of a geographical region, and to list characteristics of the Middle East that define it as a region. Students will be able to give a list of countries in the Middle East and explain their choices and omissions. Students will be able to analyze maps as constructed documents and make educated assumptions about the point of view of makers of Middle East maps.
Method: What is the Middle East? What countries does it include? How do you decide what countries “belong” in the region, and what countries do not?
Break the class into groups of 3-4 students. Have each group list the requirements for countries to be included in the Middle East, and then create a country list of states that “fit” that definition.
- What is a region, and in what way does the Middle East fit that definition?
- What are the defining characteristics of the Middle East?
- When you listed the countries that fit your definition, how many countries did you include?
- Compare your group’s list to those of other groups. Are they the same? What countries did you include that others didn’t, and vice versa?
- Where is the map centered? How far do its borders reach? Is this significant? Why or why not?
Now have the entire class review the exercise.
- Are there countries everyone agreed belonged in the Middle East? Why do you think these countries were a more “natural” fit to everyone?
- What countries did groups differ on? Why do you think people had different opinions about including them in the Middle East?
Now review the set of maps below. Note what countries are included in each map of the Middle East, and which countries are omitted. How have the mapmakers defined the Middle East, and what criteria do you think they used to draw the borders of the region? Do you agree with their choices? Why or why not?