Hey all! It's been fun getting a start on our social studies project. This fall we will be focusing on Ancient History, with some emphasis on Medieval areas as well, in Asia and Africa. For those of us with us last year, you know our focus was Medieval and Modern in Europe and North America (with one project on big world-changing ideas in Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa and the second project on World War II).
This week, students found out their project groups as well as the area of the world their group will be focusing on (it is one of the following: China, Korea, India, or Africa). They will spend much of (but not all) of the next 8 week in these project groups. There are 4 students in each group. Further, each group has been divided into two sets of partners. Once we hand out the project deadlines and deliverables, students will see that some deliverables will be done by their whole group, some with their partner, and some individually. Each group will tackle one area of the world, and on Wednesday of this week, each group had the chance to write to me with their requests for what they would study and why they wanted that choice. Then they wrote clues for an area of the world that was NOT their own, and I handed those clues to the group studying that area of the world--and that's how we found out!
Before we delve too deep into research and investigation though, it's really important to assess what we already know. A common failure of education is building a house on the wrong foundation. Or a shaky foundation. So we've spent the first two weeks talking about geography as well as the general timeline of human history.
In studying geography, we first write the names of all the countries on stick notes and did our best to create a map of the world with them. Students were forced to assess what they know and what they don't. Only after some struggle did I let them check a map for better placement of some of the countries.
After we did that, we talked about ways maps are made and the difficulties of flattening a sphere. We tried our own projections by cutting up a beach ball, explored different kinds of historical projections (you can watch some of the same videos we watched by checking out the social studies resources page), and also invited Sam in as a guest lecturer on the mathematics of map projections.
In talking about the timeline of human history, we have done a few things. We tried brainstorming major events in human history and determining when they happened, but noted that most of the events we could think of happened with the last hundred years...and ancient history needs to take us back thousands of years! We also tried ordering other major events and played a game called "Timeline" which asks you to guess when in history something happened. The dates themselves are not important, but understanding the scale of time is what we are going after. In addition to the game, we watched a great video that is up in the Social Studies resource section.
Finally, we talked about what, exactly social studies is, and read the first couple of sections of a textbook we will be using for some of our research.