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Unit 2: How Trade and Travel Changed the World

Lesson H: Exploration and Contact in the Atlantic

Lesson Overview

Caravel; Small Sailing Ship Caravel; Small Sailing Ship

Caravel; Small Sailing Ship [1]

Advances in technology and the rise of Europe sparked the transformation of the world by the 16th century. Oceanic exploration and the colonization of the Americas permanently altered the pace of modern history. Expanding avenues of travel allowed the demand for valuable goods to be met by new markets across the globe. Competition for goods and new labor systems fueled the rise of European states and the exploitation of human and natural resources in both the New and Old World. As the pace of change in the early modern world increased, so did the gap between the haves and the have-nots.

Key Questions

  1. How and why did trade and interaction lead to changes in political, economic, and social systems?
  2. How did geography and location significantly impact events in history?
  3. What factors contributed to the establishment, expansion, and decline of empires?

Student Outcomes

  1. Explain how competition for Asian goods, Ming China's demand for silver, and the restriction on European commercial trade, led the Portuguese, Dutch, and Spanish to explore the Atlantic Ocean.
  2. Analyze how the Spanish and Portuguese were able to establish colonial empires in the Americas.
  3. Analyze the extent of cultural exchange between the colonizers and indigenous peoples, such as the Spanish with the Aztecs and Incas.
  4. Assess the uses and credibility of a source by examining personal and contextual influences and by corroborating with other historical sources. (Historical Thinking Skill)

Key Terms

Student Resources

Chart of Activities:

Activities to Complete Estimated Time
5 minutes
Key Terms
5 minutes
Activator: The World 1300-1550
5 minutes
Opening: Modern Migration
10 minutes
Activity 1: Atlantic Exploration
15 minutes
Activity 2: The Birth of Colonial America
15 minutes
Activity 3: Atlantic Exploration and American Discovery
10 minutes
Activity 4: Foreign Customs Meet Native Culture
10 minutes
Activity 5: New World Cultural Blending
15 minutes
Review and Assessment
30 minutes
Lesson Summary
5 minutes

Lesson Completion Time

The total estimated time to complete this lesson is 125 minutes.


Page Notes:

[1] Source: This image from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Caravel_Boa_Esperanca_Portugal.jpg is in the public domain.