What is Big Picture Overview?
This strategy requires that you tell the whole story about what students will learn about a civilization. Why? So students see how all of the upcoming lessons fit into the overall scheme. Also, students understand stories and narratives. People use these to make sense of the world. Using this story-based strategy helps students remember the information long term. Also, drawing information is a powerful way to increase memory.
How do I use it with my class?
I give the students a piece of blank printer paper to trace on and I give them the student template. I use a document camera and do the activity along with them. I tell the kids to trace a particular section and then I tell them the story behind that section. For example, using the Big Picture Overview of Africa to the right, I would say, "Trace the map of Africa and Europe and the Middle East." After enough time for them to trace has gone by, I would start to tell them about trade in the region with neighboring continents of goods, religion and other ideas. Then I would tell them to trace the symbol for islam. And so on.
I have to admit that my notes change with every class. These teacher notes are just to guide me along.
Instruct students NOT to trace ahead of you. Otherwise, they have just traced pictures and not listened to what you were saying. This is to be done in chucks with ample time to trace a section, and designated time to take notes on those images.
How do I make them?
I look at the standards and insert an image to go with the standards that I am covering. I generally start with a map in the middle. When googling images, I google for hand drawn as in "hand drawn camel". These are easier for students to trace as they don't have as much detail. I have drawn them entirely myself but now that I can google hand drawn images, I won't be.
I place the images on a PowerPoint slide because PowerPoint is easier to use. You can move around images much more easily. You can cut images to size and you can eliminate the background if your image comes with one.