Sunday, August 03, 2008

Ancient Egypt Unit

As per a few kind requests, here's a basic outline and links to resources from my unit on Ancient Egypt.

For this, and all of my sixth grade social studies units this year, my big picture purpose can be captured with this lofty vision:

A knowledge of world history informs our understanding of and our ability to participate thoughtfully in an increasingly global society.

Along side this worthy goal, lifted straight from the Utah State Social Studies Core Curriculum:

Help young people develop civil competence, with the ability to make informed decisions for the public good.

The essential questions for this unit are quite a bit more down-to earth:
  • How did geography influence Ancient Egypt's emergence as a strong and distinct region?
  • What were the main features/achievements of Ancient Egyptian culture?
  • How were the government and economy structured?
In the spirit of backward design, my next step was to think about assessment; the particular concepts I want students to know and the particular things I want them to learn how to do. For this first unit I want them to take some first, solid steps in content literacy and research skills. They'll follow a model they can use later by taking notes on 5x7 index cards, and learn how to put ideas from primary and secondary sources into their own words and how to reference these sources. Rather than written reports or poster presentations, for this first unit, they will give short oral presentations based on their research notes.

The specific vocabulary and concepts that I expect them to master are: archeology, pharaoh, scarab, sphinx, obelisk, sarcophagus, hieroglyphics, scribe, North Africa, the Middle East, papyrus, and cartouche. Grades for this unit will be based on participation in group activities, oral presentations (including research note cards), completion of class work, and a short quiz.

Introductory Activities: A short power point imagining a visit to modern Cairo (Mrs. Frizzle style). Clips from a movie available to Utah educators on Pioneer's eMedia called Beyond our Borders. KWL charts.

"A Day in the Life" lessons straight from PBS, here.

In groups of 4 mummify apples.

In the same groups of 4 students will research assigned topics, using books and internet sources, as well as topic folders compiled from this Primary Source kit. I have some ideas for these topics, but will also base them on the students' interests as demonstrated on their KWL charts.

Final art project (and to break-up oral presentations over three days): make our own 2-D sarcophagi including cartouche and burial masks.

Additional resources which I'll soon have linked on my class web page and might use during this unit:

Mummies of Ancient Egypt
Gift of the Nile
BBC Ancient Egypt (includes two great interactive activities)

Please let me know if this compilation of resources and unit outline is useful. The process of putting a unit together is important, as it forces you to think through the interaction of literacy and content goals as well as sift through lots and lots of resources and activity ideas to select the ones you think will work best for you and your students. Also, feel free to recommend additional ideas or resources.


Tricia said...

Hi Amy,
In Virginia, second grade teachers must introduce Ancient Egpyt. It's hardly age-appropriate stuff, but there you go. Students don't get back to this stuff until eighth grade.

One of the sites my teachers love using is from the Cleveland Museum of Art. They have a great collection and support it with amazing online resources.

The other site with a wealth of information is Mr. Donn's Ancient Egypt for Kids.

Finally, my middle school class mummified chickens each year. This is a Utah site, so you probably know about it already, but it has the best directions I've found online.

As for books, I love Ms. Frizzle's Adventures: Ancient Egypt and Gail Gibbons' Mummies, Pyramids, and Pharaohs: A Book About Ancient Egypt.

Mrs. V said...

Thank you for posting more about your Egypt unit. I really appreciate seeing your resources. I think it sounds like it would be fun to mummify apples. I bet the students would love it!