Directions

Activity 1: Compare and Contrast Historical Maps of Europe

Photo: The flag of the European Union on a boat.

Students compare and contrast maps of European borders at three points in history: after World War I, after World War II, and the 2011 European Union countries. Students analyze borders that have changed and others that have remained the same.

Activity 2: Compare Changes in Europe to Your State or Region

Photo: A clock tower at night

Students compare changes in Europe over the past 100 years to maps of their own state or region and identify similarities.

Objectives

Subjects & Disciplines

  • Geography
  • Social Studies
    • Human behavior
    • Human relations
    • World history

Objectives

Students will:

  • make generalizations about what they have learned about changes in Europe
  • identify similar patterns of change in their local area or state
  • identify how political borders have changed over the past 100 years
  • compare changes in political borders to physical and cultural features of Europe

Teaching Approach

  • Learning-for-use

Teaching Methods

  • Cooperative learning
  • Discussions
  • Hands-on learning
  • Visual instruction

National Standards, Principles, and Practices

National Council for Social Studies Curriculum Standards

  • Theme 2: Time, Continuity, and Change
  • Theme 3: People, Places, and Environments

National Geography Standards

  • Standard 1: How to use maps and other geographic representations, geospatial technologies, and spatial thinking to understand and communicate information
  • Standard 17: How to apply geography to interpret the past
  • Standard 18: How to apply geography to interpret the present and plan for the future

Preparation

What You’ll Need

Materials You Provide

  • Maps of your state or local area over time
  • Multi-colored highlighters
  • Paper
  • Pencils
  • Pens

Background & Vocabulary

Background Information

In 1914, some of the most powerful countries of Europe formed rival alliances, with Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy in one alliance, and Russia, the U.K., and France in another. When Russia and Austria-Hungary intervened in fighting that broke out in the Balkans, the rest of Europe was plunged into World War I, which lasted from 1914-1918. In the years after World War I, revolution and civil war impacted Russia, Germany, and the remains of Austria-Hungary. Europe as a whole was greatly changed as a result. Russia and Germany became dramatically smaller, and the Russian revolution of 1917 led to the creation of the Soviet Union. In addition, many smaller states appeared.

 

World War II began in 1939, when Germany's invasion of Poland forced Britain and France to declare war on Germany. By 1942, most of Europe was under the control of Germany and its allies. But by 1945, the German army was weakened by a reviving Soviet Union, and the war ended in spring of 1945. Afterward, Germany was much smaller in size and divided into East and West. And the U.S.S.R. included Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Ukraine, and occupied northern East Prussia.

 

At the end of World War II, many European intellectuals, politicians, and populations as a whole were tired of conflict. They saw an opportunity to finally create a unified Europe that would not descend into violent conflict again. Thus, the idea of a pan-Europe, or United States of Europe, was born. The European Union, or EU, started out as merely a treaty among six nations to trade steel and coal for free with one another. Six countries—the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, France, and Italy—formed the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). The ECSC was such a wild success that these countries eventually signed further treaties eliminating many of the tariffs on other products between them. As the economic union grew, other states decided they wanted to join. The ECSC became the European Economic Community, and began accepting new members. Eventually, states began to give up more of their political sovereignty to the community. After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, it was decided that the geopolitical climate was ripe for countries to join a true European Union—a Union with some political capacity—and to unify currencies. This goal was established and signed into law in 1992 at the Treaty of Maastricht. The euro was unveiled to the public on January 1, 2002. States rid themselves of their former currencies and joined economic forces with the new one in the "Euro Zone."

 

During this unit on using maps to understand European physical and cultural landscapes, students have developed skills in map analysis and mapping that analysis to specific situations. Having students compare changes in Europe to changes in their own state, local area, or communities through maps serves a dual purpose: it helps move students toward the goal of seeing maps as tools for understanding our world; and it also helps students find personal relevance in the content, which will help them to retain the information they have learned.

 


Prior Knowledge

    Recommended Prior Lessons

    • None


    Vocabulary

    Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry

    border

    natural or artificial line separating two pieces of land.

    Encyclopedic Entry: {'slug': u'border', 'id': 272, 'title': u'border'}

    country

    geographic territory with a distinct name, flag, population, boundaries, and government.

    Europe

    sixth-largest continent and the western part of the Eurasian landmass, usually defined as stretching westward from the Ural mountains.

    European Union

    association of European nations promoting free trade, ease of transportation, and cultural and political links.

    map

    symbolic representation of selected characteristics of a place, usually drawn on a flat surface.

    Encyclopedic Entry: {'slug': u'map', 'id': 157, 'title': u'map'}

    physical features

    naturally occurring geographic characteristics.

    region

    any area on the Earth with one or more common characteristics. Regions are the basic units of geography.

    Encyclopedic Entry: {'slug': u'region', 'id': 267, 'title': u'region'}

    state

    political unit in a nation, such as the United States, Mexico, or Australia.

    World War I

    (1914-1918) armed conflict between the Allies (led by the United States, the United Kingdom, and France) and the Central Powers (led by Germany and Austria-Hungary). Also called the Great War.

    World War II

    (1939-1945) armed conflict between the Allies (represented by the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union) and the Axis (represented by Germany, Italy, and Japan.)

    Credits

    Media Credits

    The audio, illustrations, photos, and videos are credited beneath the media asset, except for promotional images, which generally link to another page that contains the media credit. The Rights Holder for media is the person or group credited.

    Activity 1 Credits

    Writer

    Shelley Sperry, Sperry Editorial

    Editor

    Kim Hulse, National Geographic Society
    Kathleen Schwille, National Geographic Society
    Emmy Scammahorn, National Geographic Society
    Christina Riska, National Geographic Society
    Emily Wade, B.A. Philosophy, B.A. English

    Educator Reviewer

    Brian Blouet, The College of William & Mary
    Olwyn Blouet, Virginia State University
    Michal LeVasseur, Ph.D., National Geographic Alliance Network Liaison
    Ian Muehlenhaus, University of Minnesota
    Alexander Murphy, Professor of Geography and Rippey Chair in Liberal Arts and Sciences, Department of Geography, University of Oregon
    Peter Rees, University of Delaware
    Joseph Stoltman, Western Michigan University
    Audrey Mohan, 2007-2008 Grosvenor Scholar, National Geographic Society

    Expert Reviewer

    Margaret A. Legates, Coordinator, Delaware Geographic Alliance

    National Geographic Program

    2008 Summer Geography Institute: Beyond Borders

    Other

    Special thanks to the educators who participated in National Geographic's 2008-2009 National Teacher Leadership Academy (NTLA), for testing activities in their classrooms and informing the content for all of the Beyond Borders: Using Maps to Understand European Physical and Cultural Landscapes resources.

    Activity 2 Credits

    Writer

    Shelley Sperry, Sperry Editorial

    Editor

    Kim Hulse, National Geographic Society
    Kathleen Schwille, National Geographic Society
    Emmy Scammahorn, National Geographic Society
    Christina Riska, National Geographic Society
    Emily Wade, B.A. Philosophy, B.A. English

    Educator Reviewer

    Brian Blouet, The College of William & Mary
    Olwyn Blouet, Virginia State University
    Michal LeVasseur, Ph.D., National Geographic Alliance Network Liaison
    Ian Muehlenhaus, University of Minnesota
    Alexander Murphy, Professor of Geography and Rippey Chair in Liberal Arts and Sciences, Department of Geography, University of Oregon
    Peter Rees, University of Delaware
    Joseph Stoltman, Western Michigan University
    Audrey Mohan, 2007-2008 Grosvenor Scholar, National Geographic Society

    Expert Reviewer

    Margaret A. Legates, Coordinator, Delaware Geographic Alliance

    National Geographic Program

    2008 Summer Geography Institute: Beyond Borders

    Other

    Special thanks to the educators who participated in National Geographic's 2008-2009 National Teacher Leadership Academy (NTLA), for testing activities in their classrooms and informing the content for all of the Beyond Borders: Using Maps to Understand European Physical and Cultural Landscapes resources.

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