Saturday, December 10, 2011

Examining Four Empires of Mesopotamia and Moving on to Egypt

After learning about characteristics that make up a civilization, this past week we looked at some of the important empires of Mesopotamia. These included Akkadia, Babylon, Assyria, and Neo-Babylon. Only students in periods 2, 4, and 7 are working on posters to show their knowledge of the achievements of one of these empires by creating an ad convincing the reader to move there. The posters are looking great and students wrote paragraphs last week to explain achievements.
This coming week we will be learning about the geography of Egypt, therefore all students will work to complete of map of modern Egypt during periods 1, 3 and 6. This map is quite simple and class time will be provided for students to complete it by Thursday.
This last week will also be the last week for my student teacher, Alex Byers, to be with us. She will be finishing up her part time experience and moving on to Woodburn to do a full time practicum in high school. We will certainly miss her.
Below are pictures of students working on maps of Egypt.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Learning About the Characteristics of a Civilization

There are characteristics historians use to determine if a culture is a civilization. The past week students learned about those characteristics and examined artifacts of Sumer (the first city-state in Mesopotamia). It was a fun and enlightening activity. This was an important lesson because we will compare all the cultures we study against these characteristics to see if they are truly civilizations. The seven characteristics needed for a civilization are:
· a stable food supply
· religion
· government
· technology
· social structure
· writing
· the arts
We determined that Sumer was a civilization because the artifacts we looked at reflected all of the above.
Next week we will be moving beyond Sumer to learn about the empires that came later. Students will learn about Akkad, Babylonia, Assyria, and Neo-Babylonia. Students who stay for the second half of the period will also begin working on posters to reflect the achievements of one of those empires. Classes usually enjoy completing the poster because it allows them to be creative and show what they have learned.
We continue to practice fluency and work on our reading skills. Also, students are learning how to write more detailed answers for the questions posed in homework assignments. The last two assignments have been difficult for many of the children because they do not give enough detail and information. We will continue to work on this skill.
Pictures that follow show some of the artifacts students analyzed and pictures of them doing fluency practice.

(P.S. The past week my student teacher, Ms. Byers, has been teaching. She has done a great job with the curriculum and will be with us until we go to winter break. So you might notice her in pictures the next couple of weeks.)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A New Term, New Settlements, and a New Pattern of Laws

We started a new term and are now fully into our study of Mesopotamia. Students learned this week how important a stable food supply is for creating new settlements. Without a stable food supply it is very difficult for towns, jobs, and trade to develop. So students saw the critical importance having access to steady food was (and still is) for progress.
Also this week, we discussed the Babylonian king Hammurabi and his code of laws. His laws were important because he posted them for everyone to see, and they are considered the first great legal document. It was fun discussing them with students because they realized laws from long ago can be entirely different from laws today.
After we come back from Thanksgiving we will continue our study of Mesopotamia and discuss seven characteristics of civilizations. This is important because it lays the foundation for the rest of the year as we examine other ancient civilizations.
Below are pictures of students as they discussed and considered some of Hammurabi’s laws.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

End of the First Term

I feel students ended their first term on a high note. They finally have the routine down and know what it takes to do well in middle school. Many have made great progress figuring out the middle school system. Others made the transition from elementary to middle school without any problems.
Grades are now done and parents should be receiving their child’s grades in the mail at the end of next week. If you know how to use eSIS I have posted final grades for Social Studies, so you can check to see how your student finished the first term. Overall I think students did very well.
Last week we started studying a new topic, Mesopotamia, or modern day Iraq and Syria. Mesopotamia is considered the cradle of civilization. From this ancient people we can trace the beginning of laws, writing, and the wheel. We don’t spend long looking at this ancient people, but it is an important topic that helps students to understand what makes a civilization and causes a people to settle in a community. It also gives them insight into the Middle East.
Below are pictures I took of students as they read in Jr. Scholastic magazine, and practiced reading fluency.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Halloween and the Geography Unit Test

We had a very busy week which began with many students in costume and the 6th grade Halloween party. It is a big day for many students because the party is their first celebration in Middle School. However, despite all the excitement, students were able to review and prepare for their test over geography. The rest of the week was spent reviewing for the test by going over a study guide. The kids really worked hard and I am feel like all the work paid off because overall students did well on the test.
It was also a fun week because during the second half of class students finished their presentations entitled “What Am I?” In these presentations students gave clues and slowly revealed a picture about a famous landmark or place in the world. Their peers tried to figure out what the landmark was based on the clue and the revealed picture. The kids really enjoyed it and asked it we could do more presentations in the classroom.
Last week ended our official study of geography with a unit test on Friday. This next week we will begin preparing to study Mesopotamia, or ancient Iraq, the “Cradle of Civilization.” This is a great unit to lay a foundation for our study of ancient civilizations.
Hope you enjoy the pictures below of students in their Halloween costumes.