Progress on the Cold War and Medieval World Units

We are in throes of researching, writing, and editing two History Blueprint units at the moment. The Cold War unit is slated to be ready for piloting in early April. Using the comments and feedback we received from all those who reviewed the lessons (professors, teacher leaders, the folks at all our sites), we are now working to revise the teacher leaders’ second drafts of the lessons. The teacher leaders have provided us with terrific lessons, but, of course, there is always room for improvement. Some of our work is to find additional sources, create maps, fine-tune activities, add literacy supports, and fill in gaps that inevitably emerge. Then we have to weave the lessons together into a coherent unit. Given the different styles of the teachers and the difficulty of working separately (in different parts of the state), our task is to connect the lessons together under the overarching unit focus question, “Why was the Cold War fought on so many fronts and in so many ways throughout the world?” 

We have already had an amazing response from teachers who want to pilot the Cold War unit this spring. More than 150 have responded positively to our appeal. Because the unit will be posted free online, any teacher will be welcome to pilot the unit. 

The second unit, Sites of Encounter in the Medieval World, is also progressing. I met in late January with a great team of teacher leaders who will be designing the lessons. Let me introduce them:

Med World Team 1

Erica Aguirre, Ross Middle School, ABC Unified School District, Cerritos (not in photo)

Michelle Delgado, Edward Harris Jr. Middle School, Elk Grove Unified School District, Elk Grove

John Muller, Wood Middle School, Alameda Unified School District, Alameda

Shomara Gooden, Cesar Chavez Middle School, Lynwood Unified School District, Lynwood

Mary Miller, UCLA History-Geography Project, Los Angeles

Also in the photo are Antonio Zaldivar and Maya Maskarinec, graduate students from UCLA. These two have worked very hard to find an amazing collection of primary sources for the unit. 

Since our meeting, we have held five online lecture/discussion sessions with professors who are experts in the different regions covered by the unit. Our faculty advisor, Professor Teo Ruiz of UCLA, gave two lectures on the Mediterranean sites of encounter, Sicily and Majorca. Professor Laura Mitchell of UC Irvine lectured on Calicut and Indian Ocean trade networks between 1000 and 1491. Professor Beverly Bossler of UC Davis discussed Quanzhou and Chinese trade. I presented a talk on travel narratives and world systems, and the final lecture, on Cairo and Islamic trade and pilgrimage networks, will be presented next week. I’m happy to tell you that most of these lectures will later be available free online for teachers to view as part of their preparation to teach the unit. I am so thankful for the generosity of these scholars.

The teacher leader are now starting to design the first drafts of the lessons. It’s a very exciting and busy time!

Here’s a great resource for 6th-grade teachers: The book ‘Art of the Ancient Near East: A Resource for Educators’ ( is now available as an electronic download at: .”>>.