Last year as we worked through some curriculum mapping in social studies we made a move to add in a choice of ancient culture for one of our third grade units. We left it pretty open so that units could evolve over time and teachers could explore a variety of cultures. We all know that sometimes doing the same exact unit over and over again can be tedious as a teacher. So, we built the unit around enduring understandings and essential questions that could correspond to any culture. I was so excited yesterday to see this unit finally take shape as students learned about ancient Egypt. I walked in to see students engaged and excited about their social studies work and it made my history heart happy.
I mentioned the essential question of What makes a culture unique? the other day in another blog post and that question definitely made the cut in the ancient culture unit we devised.
Here are the basics of the unit. We are still working our way through stage 1 of Understanding by Design so our performance tasks are not as flushed out as they could be. Tackling this list below if enough of a challenge for year one of this unit. Honestly, as I am looking at the unit I see a few places where I could tweak and adjust our enduring understandings.
- The study of human civilization over time reveals the ideas, beliefs, values, ad institutions of its people.
- What makes a culture unique?
- What can learn about a culture through its art forms?
- Why should we study other cultures and what does it teach us?
- Are modern civilizations more civilized than ancient ones?
Students will know:
- Communities meet their needs and wants in a variety of ways, forming the basis of their economy.
- Physical features that provided opportunities and challenges for the ancient civilization.
- The geographical, cultural, economic, political, and social conditions of the ancient civilization.
Students will be able to:
- Compare and contrast everyday living of the ancient civilization with our everyday living.
- Analyze the legacy of the ancient culture on our world today.
- Explain how geography influenced the growth of this civilization.
- Describe the writing system used by the culture and how it differs from an alphabetic writing system.
This unit definitely needs some work, but I am happy with the starting point. I also wanted to point out two of my favorite resources for an ancient civilization unit.
Teacher Created Materials Primary Source Kit: Ancient Civilizations (buy this!): I swear by these kits. Primary source work, historical thinking, literacy all in one kit. Grab and go activities that really engage students.
In the words of my son the other day “there are two things you should learn in history: civilizations and patterns.”