Context for this Lesson
Topic - Ancient Civilizations and their Key Components - Mesopotamia, Eygpt, China, India, Rome, Sparta
Guiding Question - Which of these ancient civilizations contributed the most to modern life?
Materials - Large poster paper, markers, review sheets with information on the civilizations, script worksheets
Hook / Engage - Poster Dialogue
Prior to class, the teacher should set up the poster dialogue, posting the six posters with ancient civilizations around the room.
Teacher: Good morning, everyone! Today we're reviewing the ancient civilizations we've been learning about in this unit. To start, we're going to do a poster dialogue. As you can see, there are six posters around the room with the name of one of the civilizations on it. In just a moment, we'll start rotating around the room and writing key facts or concepts about the civilization we remember on the poster. If someone has already written a fact you remember, please put a check mark next to it. This is a silent activity. Are there any questions before we begin?
Students take between five to ten minutes to rotate around the posters. At the end of time, or once everyone has written something on the posters, the teacher places all of the posters next to eachother.
Processing Points: What have we written on the posters? What concepts or facts are common between the posters? What concepts / words are different? Can we identify what the class considers the most important aspect of each civilization from the posters?
Transition - Thank you all for your wonderful thoughts! I know that we're at the end of our ancient civilization unit, and I think sometimes the best way to review information is to teach others.
Explore - Time Travel Vacations Commercial
Teacher: In a few moments, we are all going to go into role as employees of Time Travel Vacations in the year 2213. We've all been called here for an exciting announcement about our newest line of vacations. As we go into role, let's remember all of the facts and concepts we just reviewed about our civilizations. You'll know that I'm in role when I'm wearing this scarf [or any other accessory]. And we'll be in role in three, two, one...
Teacher puts on scarf and begins rolework.
Hello, historians! My name is Ms. Flux, and I am the assistant to the head of Advertising for Time Travel Vacations. As you know, we at Time Travel Vacations have some very exciting news - due to the popularity of our historical packages, we’re offering a new line of ancient vacations! My boss put me in charge, but I don't have too much expertise on the time period. But that's where you, dear ancient historians, come in!
Within small groups, you'll create a commercial for Time Travel Vacations in which you will present to the potential vacationer the top reasons to travel and be a part of your ancient civilization. To do this, you'll provide the viewer with important information about the civilization's location, system of government, belief system, social structure, and notable inventions. You'll also create a frozen image as a group to illustrate each statement. The name of your civilization is written on a card at your workstation, along with a dossier reviewing the important information and a worksheet for your scripts.
Now, I know that making postcard images is tough, so I have an example for you from one of our most popular vacations: Austin, Texas in 2013. When I say a postcard image, I mean a picture we create together by freezing ourselves in various poses, like a photograph. I’ll demonstrate. Watch carefully, I’d like you to follow this structure when you create your ads.
The teacher narrates the sentences, freezing for the postcard image at the end of the sentence for about three seconds. The images demonstrate the sentences in a silly and exaggerated way.
Location: “Austin is a beautiful city in central Texas, right next to the Colorado River, on the edge of Hill Country, with many native animals and plants like bluebonnets and grackles.”
Social Structure: “Austin is a rapidly growing and multi-cultural city, supported by an influx of UT students and other young professionals.”
Gov’t Structure: “Austin is the capital of Texas, and is the home of the Texas legislature’s biannual meetings.”
Belief System: “Austinites believe in doing good work for the community while having a good time, and in live music”
Inventions: “Austin’s most notable achievement is the creation of roller derby and the breakfast taco.”
Does that example make sense? Do you have any questions before we begin?
We’re going to take about fifteen to twenty minutes to create this ad. I will be rotating around if you need help. Let’s get started!
The students have between 20-30 minutes to both write their sentences and create their postcard images. During this time, the teacher rotates around the room in role and helps the students craft sentences and form the images. The sentences are ultimately more important than the images, but the images should be fun for both the performer and the viewer.
At the end of time, the students will come to the front of the room and perform their commercials for the class. The Teacher enthusastically recieves each commercial, encouraging the class to be a respectful audience throughout.
Transition: [In Role] Thank you, historians, those were really wonderful commercials! You know, I was a little nervous about these vacations - how could we make this history relevant? But these commercials really take the cake! My boss is going to be so pleased with all of your hard work. Let's give ourselves a round of applause! And we'll be steping out of role in three, two, one... [Removes accessory]
Teacher: Again, great work everyone! Let's think about what we've just seen.
What were some of the things we heard about these civilizations?
Were there any major similarities between the civilizations? Differences?
Can we see the effects or influences in our civilization today? What do you think future historians will deem the most important aspect of our civilization, here in 2013?
To continue the commerical, ask the students to write a song or jingle about their civilization to perform in the next class, like a school-appropriate Weird Al. The students can perform the jingles before the test to review.
This lesson was originally developed in Feb. 2013 by Teresa Castillo and Rachel Gilbert for a sixth-grade social studies class at Lamar Middle School in Austin, TX. The basic structure can be used to review other historical time periods, cultures, nations, or geographies. The structure can also be applied to common mathmatic and scientific concepts.