Drake's Circumnavigation

World History teaching resources for the high school classroom: lesson plans, worksheets, quizzes and simulation games for KS3, IGCSE, IB and A-Level teachers.

Between 1577-1580, Francis Drake succeeded in becoming the first man to sail around ("Circumnavigate") the entire world.

In this lesson unit, you will investigate this extraordinary feat in a number of ways.

Step 1: Downloading the Google Earth Journey!

The core of this activity is a virtual "Flyover" of the journey using Google Earth (download it here).

Download the Google Earth Tour of the Circumnavigation here
[TIP: click the right-hand button of your mouse over this link, and choose "Save Target As" to save it to your desktop. This is a "Zipped" (compressed) file - so once it is downloaded, you will need to "Extract" it. Do this by double clicking on the folder icon which will appear on your desktop when it is saved, then choose "Extract all Files". When they are extracted, double click on the 'file.kmz' file to open up the tour in Google Earth!"].

Step 2: Enjoying the Journey!

Once you have got Google Earth opened, you can view the tour in two ways:

(a) Double click on each of the "places" which are listed on the left hand side of the screen (this will allow you to view the detailed information about each place, along with a primary source account from Francis Petty, one of the sailors who was on board).

(b) Simply click the "play" icon at the bottom of the "places" window to enjoy a "movie" of the entire journey!
[TIP: This 'Flyover' function works by playing all of the 'places' that you have ticked off. Make sure that the 'Drake' folder is ticked, and that nothing else is!]

Step 3: Lesson Plans / Activities

I have put together a variety of lesson ideas for this unit.

1. Structured Questions about Drake's Circumnavigation
Students answer a series of questions based around a viewing of the Google Earth Flyover.

2. Living Graph of Drake's Circumnavigation
Students complete a "danger graph" charting key points in the journey.

3. Sir Francis Drake: Hero or Villain?
Students gather evidence for both sides of the case, then reach their own conclusion.

4. Working with Primary Sources: Text Account
Students use the primary source account of Francis Petty to build up a picture of Drake's piracy, the appearance and customs of the natives and the goods he obtained at various points on the journey.

5. Working with Primary Sources: Pictorial Account
Students examine four illustrations from a 1626 book about Drake's voyage, and try to deduce which part of the journey is described by each. Pairs of students could work on this, sitting "back to back": one student could describe the picture in front of them, whilst their partner (using the Petty Account) could try to match this to the correct event.

6. Making a Google Earth Tour of Drake's Circumnavigation
Students use the raw data to construct their own Google Earth Tour. This lesson comes complete with a Google Earth helpsheet. (note: this means that students should NOT see the completed Google Earth Tour I have already put together - at least not until they have made their own!)


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