Students have worked so hard on their projects! There are comic strips and essays, speeches and cookbooks, board games and card games. Students chose to answer questions about God, family traditions, and various beliefs. The diversity of project topics and formats is really fun to see, and the amount of pride the students have in their final projects has been awesome.
The best way to understand our work this week is to come see us next week:
Thursday, March 21
12:30 - 1:30
Middle School Commons and surrounding classrooms
Note: If you can't make that time, you can attend one of our practice sessions on Wednesday from 1:00 - 1:30.
In addition to finishing our individual reading and writing, students also worked on miniature picture books depicting the life of Siddharta Gautama who became the Buddha.
Hinduism, Buddhism, and Check-in #2
This week we completed our background investigation of Hinduism and started one on Buddhism. We explored Buddhism through the life of Siddharta Gautama, the price who left his life of riches to become a spiritual leader. We looked at paintings of various stages of his life, and discussed as a class what we thought they represented. Then we read a bit about the paintings and his journey through childhood and marriage to joining the ascetic movement and then leaving that to search elsewhere for enlightenment.
We also worked a lot on our individual research projects and I met individually with all the students for check in #2. We discussed what each student had completed so far, what they were working on next, and if there were any concerns or red flags and how best to address them. I'm excited to see what they do next!
Our project work continued this week. We had no field trips or speakers this week, but focused on both studying the foundations of world religions as well as work on our individual projects.
Students learned about Islam through their own research. We divided the class into small groups and each one researched a question about Islam. We discussed:
(1) Who was Muhammad?
(2) What is the relationship between Islam and Judaism and Christianity?
(3) What is the signficance of the 5 pillars of Islam?
(4) What is Ramadan and why is it important?
We also learned about Hinduism and worked on taking notes and drawing pictures on the big ideas we discussed while being introduced to this religion, its major beliefs, traditions, and deities.
Each class this week was divided between time learning about one of these major religions and individual work time to get further on our projects. I'm excited to see a lot of students doing great work on those!
Students are well underway with the individual parts of this project now! They've chosen their questions, begun their research, and many are starting to interview family and community members. It's really fun to see what they come up with. More than once this week, I had a student excitedly tell me "wow! did you know..." It's really fun to watch them learn things they've never known before, or in many cases, understand a very familar subject in a very different way. We completed "check-in 1" where I met individually with each student to see what they were working on at that time and what their plans for next steps were.
For the foundational investigation part of the project, we learned a little more about Christianity this week, reading some parables and trying to guess the underlying meaning. Students also took some guided notes on the origins and spread of the religion.
And we had a great field trip to Church of the Good Shepherd led by SK parent Rev. Deborah Dean-Ware. She taught us a lot about the Bible, its history of bring written over 1500 years and compiled differenly by different groups in Christianity. She also taught us about how her church uses the Bible--seriously, but not literally, searching the text for the stories of the people and why they made the choices they did, within the context of their time, and how that might apply to our time. She talked about how Christianity affects her own values of social justice, and also how others might read the same exact text and come to very different conclusions.
Introduction to Judaism and Christianity
We've kick off the World Religions project this week. We read about the origins of Judaism and created scrolls about the stories of Abraham, Moses, King David, and King Solomon. We learned about significant events in Jewish history, including the first diaspora, and how the Jewish community survived being torn apart.
We also had an amazing field trip to Temple Beth Emeth, where we met with Cantor Regina Hayut. She spent a lot of time with our kids (on her day off!). She gave us a tour of the sanctuary and showed them how it converts from a neutral space into a church with a cross when St. Clares of Assisi Episcopal Church worships there and into a Temple with an ark for the Torah when TBE uses the space.
Cantor Hayut even took one of the Torahs out from the ark, undressed, and unrolled it, showing them how the scribes write the letters, how Hebrew is read from left to right, and how a yad (metal pointer with a hand on the end) is used to point to the letters so oil from human hands doesn't wear down the vegetable ink on the animal skins. The Torah she showed us is one that was rescued during the Holocaust and restored in England and is over 200 years old. It's being taken care of by the TBE community until one such day when the original community might return. When one of the students asked her to, she even chanted some of the words out loud (the part from the 10 commandments).
After her tour, the students had a chance to ask her questions, and she was generous in not only teaching them about the religion and how it is structured (with various groups such as Orthodox, Conservation, and Reform), as well as how her beliefs and her job in a religious organization inform her own life (by reminding her to follow the laws she teaches others, such as not speaking ill of others.)
We also started our investigation of Christianity, leaning about the works of Jesus and the context of the political environment of the Roman Empire. We are also starting to look into how Christianity gained popularity and spread throughout the Roman Empire.
Students have also started their individual projects, which are shaping up to be great. I'm really excited to do their first check-in on Monday.
Also, I threw an extra credit assignment up on google classroom for anyone who is interested. Kids should only do it if it sounds like fun to them!
It's been so much fun to switch into a new project! We are starting to look at world religions--where they come from and how they influence us today. We have a slew of field trips set up to visit various local places of worship. Students are starting to interview family members to learn about their own religious traditions and history, and also to think about how they are going to create their final projects. If you'd like to descriptions of our projects and and some of the templates the students will be using to create and track their work, please check out the social studies resource page here!
Also, we will be taking a bunch of field trips and we need a parent driver for each one. If you'd like to volunteer, please let us know!
In our social studies projects, we've been diving deep into some ancient civilizations. On Wednesday, for example, we studied the evolution of government in Ancient Greece, from monarchy to oligarchy to tyranny to democracy. We acted each form of government out, seeing how each model would choose a song to play to the whole class. Sometimes the monarchy might pick what you want to hear! But what happens when it doesn't?
We also took a trip down the Nile River in our felucca made of desks, and visited several sites that showed accomplishments of Egyptian Pharoahs. Other civilizations we are spending time studying include India, China, and Mesopotamia. During free work time, students have been working with their project groups on their broadcast news presentations and individually on their speeches.
Making geography come alive
This week was an intensive jump into asking ourselves how geography and climate affected how and where ancient civilizations developed. We studied the varied geography of ancient China and how deserts and mountains protected the civilization from outsiders. We analyzed a map of India and debated which parts (the rivers, deserts, mountains, or plateaus) would have been most likely to support an ancient civilization. We acted out a map of ancient Egypt with kids lying in a line for the Nile river, swaying their arms for the Mediterranean sea, and acting appropriate hostile for the surrounding deserts.
Final project expectations
We also discussed the list of expectations for the final project. Each group will be responsible for creating their own broadcast news program from one of the ancient civilizations we are studying! Here's some more detail of what will be required:
BROADCAST NEWS PROJECT REQUIREMENTS
How does climate affect human societies and how do human societies affect climate?
Your news show should meet the following general expectations:
Hey guys! It's been so much fun getting to know my new project group! Early in the week, we investigated the ways archaeologists learn about the past, and we looked at primary source artifacts (cave paintings, tools, etc.) to try to determine what they can tell us about ancient peoples.
Then we looked at the evolution of humans from early hominins to hunter-gatherer societies to farming communities and city-states. Researching early hominins, we drew images of superheroes first and talked about the various superpowers our favorite heroes have, and how having that superpower differentiates them. Then we learned about groups of early humans, such as Homo habilis (handy man), Homo erectus (upright man), and Homo neanderthalensis, and Homo sapiens, and talked about the capabilities (superpowers!) each of these groups developed. Students examined illustrations of each group to deduce what kinds of capabilities they had, such as building tools or using fire.
Then we took turns acting short skits to demonstrate the differences between various groups in human history. After learning about early humans, we turned out attention to the evolution from hunting and gathering to farming, studied the difference between the Neolithic and Paleolithic times, and worked on short cartoons to demonstrates ways human societies evolved from the old stone ages to the new stone ages.
The first ancient civilization we turned out attention to was Ancient Sumer in Mesopotamia. Students were given four problems to solve (problems the Sumerians faced) and worked in groups to think about how they would solve them. The problems were: overcrowding in the foothills, how to survive in a river plain that was either flooded or dry, how to manage a complex system of canals that stretched across cities, and how to avoid attack. Students came up with some great solutions, and some were very similar (such as dams and canals and moats) to the solutions the ancient Sumerians decided on!
Great job on the presentations!
Wow! The kids did SUCH a great job with their presentations this week! I was so excited to see them bringing all their hard work together. Their "current events stories" and advertisements showed their research and understanding of the ancient time periods they had studied, and the "weather" reports touched on the human relationship to climate and geography. And of course, I loved the sense of humor so many of them put into it! It was so much fun to work with them on this.
By the way, if you were there and got any photos or videos, can you please send them to me! I will try to upload some here!
Welcome to my new project group!
Also, this week I got to welcome my new project group! It was only for a second, though, as I was out of town Wednesday - Friday. However, I put some great (I hope!) lesson plans into the hands of our subs, and they got a great introduction to the themes we are studying. Before we look at specific civilizations, we look at world geography and world history as a whole, trying to create a foundation and a place in our minds for all the fun research and question-asking we have ahead of us!
The first lesson on Wednesday is to create a "sticky note map" of the world!! One of the best teaching tips is to see what you know and what you don't know before you get too far into anything. The sticky note map asks kids to try to create a world map from memory, then research the countries they were given, and then try again. It's a hands-on way to start thinking about world geography. On Thursday, they completed a lesson about how people study the past. They think about items they themselves own and ask themselves what someone 10,000 years in the future might think about those items! Then they look at actual ancient artifacts and make hypotheses about them before reading what archaeologists and historians think. On Friday, the kids researched some events in ancient history, presenting those they thought were meaningful. They sat in chronological order as we begin to paint a picture of what a timeline of ancient history looks like!