Saturday, January 28, 2012

The End of the Second Term and our Egypt Unit

This next week will mark the end of the second term, or first semester for this school year. It seems like the past months have just flown by. We have been very busy practicing reading fluency, learning geography, studying ancient Mesopotamia, and ancient Egypt. It has been interesting to watch the children mature and learn the ropes of being successful middle school students. This past week we brought some closure to our unit about Egypt by completing timelines showing the chronology of Egyptian history.
Next week students will learn about the African or Black pharaohs of Egypt as we study about Nubia (modern day Sudan), and learn how the two cultures of Egypt and Nubia affected each other. Nubian history is a relatively new field and there are new discoveries all the time.
We will also finish up our unit this coming Thursday by having a special assembly on mummification. A teacher from another school reenacts a ceremony showing the process Egyptians used to preserve their dead. We have done it the last couple of years for all Hazelbrook sixth graders and they seem to really enjoy it.
Below are pictures of students working on their timelines and the royal mummies they created displayed on the bulletin board . 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Busy with Persuasive Writing and Royal Mummies!

Students (in periods 2, 4, and 7) have been busy writing to convince readers that a particular Egyptian pharaoh, monument, or achievement is the best. Besides learning about important Egyptians or places we also tried something new: using Google Docs to create a written essay. By using Google Docs students were able to type their rough drafts at school and at home. What was particularly exciting was that the children could create their bibliography online, save the template to Google Docs and the bibliography would be created on a Google Docs page correctly formatted. What a wonderful tool. I wish it had been available when I was in high school and in college. This is the link to the web site we used for bibliography creation: Oregon School Library Information System Citation Maker, About half of students have printed out their writing, with the other half scheduled to print out their essays on Monday. This means that by using Google Docs for writing our rough drafts we were able to finish our papers about three days sooner. Yoo Hoo!
Besides working on writing skills, students were busy during the first half of class creating mummy cases for a phantom pharaoh (or queen). They now know some of the symbols Egyptian royalty used to establish their credibility. The children first painted their background gold, and did a quick rough draft of their mummy case. Then they drew their designs onto the gold case, outlined the design in black, and painted on some color.  This assignment was a fun way to be creative and artistic. So the pictures I took this week were of students busy at work creating a royal case for their mummy. Plus, I have also included a short video of students doing fluency practice. (It reminds me of "blab school"!)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Royal Names

One way Egyptologists knew they had found a royal tomb was if the tomb had the markings of a cartouche. A cartouche is an elliptical shape with a horizontal line on one end. Inside would be the hieroglyphs of a pharaoh’s name. The past week students looked at the cartouches of some famous pharaohs: Ramses II, Tutankhamen, and Hatshepsut. Then using a hieroglyph translator they created a cartouche of their name. This project is a great way for students to show their understanding of Egyptian writing.
During the second half of class we continued to work on persuasive writing. Students finished researching in the library and are now in the midst of writing their rough draft, and we are trying something new. We are using Google Docs to type of the paper. This way students can work on their essay at home as well as at school. Hopefully, typing up our rough draft will allow us to finish our writing sooner instead of taking a week to write the rough draft and then a week to type up the final draft.
Below are pictures of students and their cartouches, as well as students working on their persuasive papers.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Hieroglyphics of the Egyptians

We are now getting farther into Egyptian culture. Last week students were given an assignment introducing them to the basics of Egyptian hieroglyphics. They had to read an article, answer questions and then find the meaning of clues given for some hieroglyphs. It was enlightening, intriguing, and hopefully also fun.
We also continued to read and learn about the long history of the Egyptians. As well, students (in the second half of class) were given a quick look at famous monuments and people to give them some background for a long-term project. They will be writing a persuasive paper convincing the reader that a particular ruler, monument, or achievement was the best. We are currently researching in the library. Students came home with a calendar so that parents can know deadlines in advance. Please help your student to be timely and prepared. 
I fully intended to take pictures this week while we were in the library and even took my camera out to get “action” shots. However, almost immediately I was so distracted helping students that pictures did not get taken.  So, instead of showing pictures from this past week I will include pictures from the week before we left for break. That was the last week that my student teacher, Ms. Byers, was at school. She was a great help and addition to class. We will miss her. Photos will include student work of Mesopotamian Real Estate Ads. I think they did a great job!