As teachers, there are few lessons for which we can each claim originality. This one is no different; it’s a combination of the well known “Postcards” activity and some ideas about using Twitter I got from teachers at the reading last year. It basically serves as a review of Period 3 (600 to 1450) while introducing students to the remarkable travels and experiences of Ibn Battuta. It requires some technology, but can be pulled off with a White Board and minimum technological know-how.
As a lead-in for this activity I have my students read this comparative essay on the travels of Ibn Battuta and Marco Polo. It gives them some good background information for their presentations.
The most basic thing you will need to do is create a Twitter account for Ibn Battuta. It might take you a few attempts to find a version of Battuta’s username (there are many Ibn Battutas on Twitter!), but when you enter the first and last name you can simply use “Ibn” and “Battuta” and it will show up fine (See screen shot below).
You will also need a White Board, or some other means to project the Twitter feed and map. There are two approaches to setting up the technology for this. I’ll give the easiest first.
Project a map of Afro-Eurasia and the open Twitter account you created on a surface students can write on. This can be accomplished by projecting your computer screen with two windows open on the desktop. This works fine but you will unfortunately see Twitter’s ads and invitations for Battuta to “follow” some very unlikely travel companions such as Taylor Swift or Jimmy Fallon. They’re swell people, but it might add a bit of clutter and distraction.
I created a webpage using HTML and utilized Twitter’s export widget found in the Settings menu of the Twitter account. This exported code is easily inserted into a webpage with a map of Afro-Eurasia. Here is the one I created complete with a few leftover Tweets from when I ran this in my class. I’m sure there are other options, such as using Padlet. (If you have created a Twitter account and would like help with the tech side of things, shoot me an email. With a day or two notice I could possibly duplicate my site for you.)
Running the Activity
Divide your students into small groups. Each group will “Travel” to two of Ibn Battuta’s stops. I have created websites for each of these stops that you can use:
- Hebron and Jerusalem
- Medina and Mecca
- Persia and Iraq
- The Red Sea and Africa’s Swahili Coast
- The Golden Horde and Constantinople
- Delhi India
- China and the Return Home
- West Africa
HINT: Each of these websites has a NEXT link at the bottom, so you can simply give the first link and have students navigate from there. Alternatively, I created QR codes that I posted around the room. Students can “visit” these sites by scanning the codes which are pointed to the respective web pages. (If you want to use these QR posters you can find them HERE.)
Once students have read about Ibn Battuta’s “Visit” on their phones, tablets or computers, they discuss his impressions in their group. It’s very important that they identify any information covered in Period 3 and elaborate on it; that’s crucial to their presentation. Then they need to compose two tweets and hashtags relevant to Ibn Battuta’s experience at each location.
To present, each group tweets from Ibn Battuta’s Twitter account that I have signed in on a computer in my room. After the Tweet appears, the group approaches the White Board, draws the journey of Battuta relevant to the locations they read about, and summarizes his impressions and experiences.
When they get to content from the Key Concepts for Period 3 they have to explain the importance or significance of it outside the context of Battuta’s visit. For example, students will tell about Battuta’s encounter with the Black Death, the destruction brought about by the Crusades, the Mongol sacking of Baghdad, his trip on a Chinese junk, etc. At each of these points the group must teach the importance of the historical information relevant to one of the 5 Themes of AP World History. So much–from the Hajj to the Mongol tolerance of religious diversity–is evident in Battuta’s visits and will go a long way in reinforcing content from Period 3. Students have a lot of fun with it too.
My goal next year is to run Ibn Battuta simultaneously with Marco Polo HERE.
Please leave any comments or suggestions.