June 08, 2001
What does ancient Mesopotamian trade have in common with the West Coast's busiest port? Quite a lot, sixth graders in Christopher Basner's class at Hudson School discovered.
Using a resource from his school's own backyard--the Port of Long Beach--Basner, history department chair, created a week-long unit entitled "The Port Calls." He uses the port to teach about history, international trade, transportation, business and careers.
He unveiled his curriculum to about 70 teachers at Educating the Educators Day, sponsored by the Port, Long Beach School to Career Consortium and the Chamber of Commerce International Business Association.
After reviewing Basner's lessons that span the centuries, teachers boarded a boat for a harbor tour. They will work with Basner and the Port to prepare middle school lessons that address history standards on culture, political and economic systems and the environment.
Students learn terms like import, export, Pacific Rim and intermodal (using more than one method to move goods). They learn how trade has developed since ancient days, and how trade changes people's lives.
During one of his hands-on lessons, Basner asks students to take off their shoes, determine in which countries the shoes were made, find those countries on a map and then discuss how the shoes traveled from all these countries to their feet.