Donn, Corkran Middle School, Maryland, USA
Overview and Rationale
A. Scope and major concepts
1. This unit covers the history of Ancient Mesopotamia.
2. This unit will include lessons on:
3. This unit will concentrate on geographic and language arts skills.
4. The Unit will focus on student personal discovery and challenge to student to express their own ideas and beliefs concerning world events.
B. Rationale: This
unit is designed for all students. The unit will broaden their horizons
by showing how ancient peoples are similar to peoples today. It will
also help prepare students for Maryland State exams by introducing
concepts used in Maryland State, and U.S. government. It is designed to
increase students map skills by giving them the opportunity to see how
geography affects people and history.
Objectives (C = Cognitive, A = Affective, P = Psychomotor)
A. Ways to evaluate:
Subject Matter/Skills Outline
A. Following is a list of essential thinking skills and related concepts that will be related to each days activities. Each skill will be numbered and this number will be listed at the end of each days subject matter outline. This listing of skills is taken from the Dimensions of Learning handout given by the Anne Arundel County Public Schools, Office of Staff Development, Instructional Leadership
1. Positive Attitudes and Perceptions:
A. Classroom Climate
B. Classroom Tasks
II. Ability/Resources to perform tasks
2. Acquiring and Integrating
A. Declarative Knowledge
I. Construct Meaning
B. Procedural Knowledge
I. Construct Models
3. Extending and Refining
I. Directed Teaching of Thinking Skills
VI. Analyzing Errors
VII. Constructing Support
IX. Analyzing Perspectives
IV. Meaningful Use of Knowledge
I. Directed Teaching of Dimension 4 Mental Processes
II. Decision Making
IV. Experimental Inquiry
V. Problem Solving
5. Productive Habits of the Mind:
II. Critical thinking
III. Creative Thinking
Daily Activities/Lessons: For each lesson and activity,
First day/ Introduction, knowledge assessment, geography.
Student Outcome: The Student will be able to:
Drill Question: What is an illustrated dictionary?
(a) Students will be introduced to the term Mesopotamia (Greek for “land between the rivers”) and asked if they know of anyplace that is between rivers (short class discussion) "9" (1A.I, II, III)
(b)A pretest on geography skills, and vocabulary will be given.(at this point if students show a deficiency in map skills, a short unit on map skills may be introduced). "9" (1B.II)
(c) Students will be given a blank map of the middle east and asked to locate various places on it using either a textbook map or Atlas (if available) place names will include Mesopotamia, Tigris and Euphrates rivers, Zagros mountains, Syrian desert, Persian gulf, Iraq. (students may work either singly of in pairs). "1, 9" (1B.II, III; 2A. I, II)
(d) Selected students (those who you have seen are working correctly) are then asked to come up to the large map and show where these areas are located. "1, 5, 9" (1A.I, II; 2B.II)
(e) If time permits, discuss why being surrounded by mountains and desert was an asset in developing civilization. "20" (3.V)
(f) Closure, review the daily objective, ensure all students have a basic understanding of the location of Mesopotamia. "9" (1A.III; 2A.III)
Second day/ drill, motivation, development of agriculture
Student Outcome: Mesopotamia #2 The Student will be able to:
(a) review location of Mesopotamia, continue (or start) discussion of how the geography allowed civilization to develop. "1,9, 14" (1A.III; 2A.III)
(b) Ask students what they had for breakfast (list on an overhead). This may be done in small groups. Then ask students to figure out where each item came from (i.e. toast from bread, bread from grain, eggs, butter, yeast) Then have students list where each of these items are found (i.e. wheat farms, dairy farms). "4" (2A.II; 3.III)
(c) Classroom discussion what would they have for breakfast if there were no farms. Explain vocabulary terms “hunter-gatherer”, “nomadic/nomad”, “agriculture”. Tie in to Native Americans, before the advent of Europeans, and other societies in Africa and South America that still lead a hunter-gatherer existence. "16" (3.VIII; 2A.I, II, III)
(d) Have students list advantages, and disadvantages of the hunter gatherer lifestyle. Have students list the advantages and disadvantages of agriculture. "8" (3.VIII; 5.II)
(e) From textbook/readings, have students describe the climate of Mesopotamia, list on blackboard/transparency (terms should include: dry, dusty, hot, spring rains, flooding). Have students read how the people of Mesopotamia overcame these hardships (the development of irrigation) "1, 4, 9" (2A.I, II, III)
(f) Closure/review: review daily objective. Discuss with students agriculture and irrigation. "10" (3.II)
CAUSE & EFFECT
Third day/Cause and Effect
Student Outcome: Mesopotamia #3 The Student will be able to:
(a) Drill, students will complete daily drill. (1A.III)
(b) Motivation, discuss quickly cause and effect in students daily life. "20" (1A.I; 1B.I, II, III)
(c) Use cause and
effect worksheets, have students develop a three step cause and effect
chain starting from: people developed agriculture. "10" (3.II;
4.II, V). Example:
This should be taken directly from their readings and could include, domestication of animals, construction of irrigation ditches, development of religion, and many others.
Have students pair up and compare their chains. (this work may be collected and checked).
(d) Directed reading with questions from text. "3" (2A.I, II, III; 3. I, II, III, IX)
(e) Review/closure: discuss with students the start of cities and the development of agriculture. "10"
RELIGION & EPICS|
Fourth day/ Cities of Mesopotamia, Religion and Epics.
Student Outcome: Mesopotamia #4 The Student will be able to:
Question: Nomadic people, who live by eating whatever they can find, are called what?
(a) Daily Drill
(b) Motivation - Show students pictures/overheads of Pyramids, Ziggurats, Mayan Temples. Ask why they think ancient peoples built these huge structures. "20" (3.II, VIII)
(c) Have students read aloud text section on Sumerian religion. Discuss with students similarities in Sumerian religion with activities in students daily life. "4, 16" (3.II; 4.III)
(d) Define “Epic, Myth, Legend”. Introduce the epic of Gilgamesh. Have students read sections aloud. Compare to Comic book heroes. Show how Sumerians used these tales to entertain. "6, 16" (2A.I, II, III; 3.II, III)
(e) Closure/review - Review, Religion, Epics, Makeup and construction of cities. "10"
FIRST WEEK REVIEW
Fifth day/ review. Complete any unfinished tasks from the previous days lessons. The four lessons above should take five days to complete. If there is extra time, use it for vocabulary games, or map skills. I use a lesson on paraphrasing here. For a worksheet on paraphrasing, see this site: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/Files/31.html
Student Outcome: Mesopotamia #5 The Student will be able to:
DAY SIX: TOOLS
Sixth day/ Tools and tool making.
Student Outcome: Mesopotamia #6 The Student will be able to:
Drill Question: (today, do not write the question, just the answer in complete sentence form.). Where, in relative terms (i.e. north, southwest, etc.) is the Persian Gulf located in relation to Mesopotamia? (use the maps in your textbook or assignment book)
(a) Daily drill
(b) Motivation: Ask how many of the students if they have ever used a tool. Ask what type and what they did. Then ask how they could have done the job without that tool. "16" (3.II, Vii; 5.III)
(c) From their reading have students make a list of tools developed/invented by the Sumerians. Explain the Bronze age to the students and describe Bronze to them. "4, 10" (2A.II)
(d) Have students select from the list of tools mentioned and draw one. Then have them describe how that tool was used underneath their drawing. collect this work. "3,4,6" (3.I, III, VIII)
(e) Discuss with students important inventions and tools that they use (or are used by their parents/guardians) daily that were invented by the Sumerians. "10" (3.II)
(f) Review/Closure: Discuss with students some of the tools invented by the people of Mesopotamia."10" (2A.II, III)
7. Seventh day/
Cuneiform, pictographs, and writing
Student Outcome: Mesopotamia #7 The Student will be able to:
Question: Name at least one of the empires that controlled Mesopotamia
(a) Daily Drill (1A.I, II, III)
(b) Motivation - Ask students why they think writing is important. "20" (5.III)
(c) Make (or buy) Clay tablets with Pictograph or Cuneiform writing on them. Have students move into small groups. Give each group a clay tablet to work from. Provide resources that will allow students to translate a portion of the tablet. As works proceeds, provide students with additional translation material until they have enough to translate about 1/2 the tablet. "4, 16" (2A.II; 3.III, IV)
(d) Have each group orally provide their translation of their tablet. Inform students that they have been doing an archeologists job. That is to translate an unknown language with only partial meanings known. They need to guess at actual meanings for some items. "4,5,16" (3.VII; 5.II, III)
(e) Provide each group with a written handout with full cuneiform to English translations ( See reading the past cuneiform by C.B.F. Walker for translations) with an exercise that allows them to write and draw Cuneiform and English translations. "3,4" (2A.I, II, III)
(f) Collect written work. Discuss with students what a written language is. "4" (3.III, IX)
(g) If time permits, give each group a small piece of clay, and have them make their own tablets. "4,5,16" (2B.I, II, III)
(h) Review/Closure: Review with students that Cuneiform is the first written language and the importance of a written language in their daily lives. "10" (2A.I, II, III)
(a) Daily drill. (1A. I, II, III)
(b) Motivation - Ask students to describe a typical/regular day of theirs. "5" (3.III, IV)
(c) Activity - Show slides/overheads about Sumerian housing, Food, education, shopping, religious rites, and other Sumerian daily activities. Discuss each daily activity with students. "10" (2A.I, II, III; 3.II, III)
(d) Have students write a couple of sentences describing what they think the life of a Sumerian child of 11 or 12 would be like. "3, 14, 16" (3.VII; 5.III)
(e) Have students share their thoughts with the rest of the class. Have class discuss these activities and compare to their own typical day. "5" (3.III, IV)
(f) Closure - Compare a typical students day to the typical day of a Sumerian child. "10" (2A.I, II, III)
Student Outcome: The Student will be able to:
(a) Daily drill. (1A.I, II, III)
(b) Motivation - Ask students if they think they will (or have) voted in School elections, or if any of them have or will run for student government. "20" (1A.I, II)
(c) Ask students how they would punish people who broke the law (be specific i.e. stole, hit their parents, hurt someone else) Write down answers on overhead. "20" (3.IX; 4.II; 5.II)
(d) Bring out copies of Hammurabi’s code. Have students read aloud. "4" (2A.I, II, III)
(e) Compare students answers about punishment under the law with Hammurabi’s code "7" (3.II).
(f) Have students write “Which of these codes do you find more fair. Why?” "2,3,7" (5.II)
(g) Closure Discuss with students the idea of a written code of law. "7, 14" (2A.I, II, III)
GROWTH OF EMPIRE
Student Outcome: Mesopotamia #11 The Student will be able to:
(a) Daily Drill. (1A.I, II, III)
(b) Motivation - Ask students if they have seen the Star Wars trilogy. discuss the idea of Empire with them. "16" (3.II, V)
(c) Use maps to show the spread of empires. Arcadian, Babylonian, Hittite, Assyrian, Persian. "4, 5" (2B.I, II, III; 3.III)
(d) Have Students construct a time line to show the various empires. "4, 5" (2B.I, II, III; 3.III)
(f) Closure/review Review the growth of empires and how they supplanted each other. Advise students of upcoming unit test. (2A.I, II, III)
REVIEW OF ACHIEVEMENTS
(a) Daily Drill
(b) Motivation - Ask students what they would do without, a car, written language, a government based on laws. (5.III)
(c) Review with student in Jeopardy style game, the important achievements of the Civilizations of Mesopotamia. (2.A.I,II,III)
(d) Closure - Remind students of upcoming test
UNIT TEST REVIEW AND TEST
(a) Review for test. (2A.I, II, III)
(c) Have activities available for students who finish early, word search, crossword puzzles, etc. (1A.I, II, III)
UNIT TEST -
Multiple Choice (2 points each) Circle the answer that best completes the sentence.
1. The Sumerians wrote on a. paper b. clay tablets c. stone d. wood e. papyrus
2. The most important people in Sumer were a. slaves b. scribes c. farmers d. priests
3. To sign their names, the Sumerians used a a. cylinder seal b. pen c. signet rings d. stamps and ink pads e. thumbprint
4. One of the surviving Sumerian legends concerns a. Hercules b. Enlil c. Hammurabi d. Gilgamesh e. Darius
5. Prior to the
city states of Mesopotamia, people were a. urban dwellers b.
non-existent c. hunter-gatherers d. pastoral
True or False. (2 points each) Circle either true or false.
6. Sumerian writing is called hieroglyphics. True False
7. Sumerians signed their names with a cylinder seal. True False
8. The Sumerians worshipped many gods. True False
9. Sumerian temples were called Ziggurats. True False
10. In Sumer, a priest was a very important person. True False
Essay questions: (10 points each) Answer on the blank paper attached.
1. Describe the Sumerian invention that you think is most important and then give your reasons why using at least two examples of how that invention changed peoples lives.
2. Compare the Code of Hammurabi with the laws of the United States today. Answer the following questions in paragraph/sentence form.
1. Who is Hammurabi?
2. What were some of his laws.
3. How were his laws similar and different from the laws we have today?
4. How might you have felt living back in the time of Hammurabi?
Homework Assignments: Paraphrase the following statements. Supply the paraphrased statement on your own paper. Use complete sentences. Example: (Statement) Agriculture was of great importance to the Sumerians. Through the use of irrigation they were able to grow a surplus of crops. (paraphrase) The Sumerians used irrigation to grow enough food for everyone. They felt this was very important.
1. The surplus of food allowed the Sumerians to settle in one place and build permanent structures. These permanent buildings grouped together, and slowly developed into towns and cities.
2. Having a surplus of food allowed some people to specialize. Everyone did not have to farm. Some people became metal workers, some became builders, some became brick makers, and a priest caste developed. The priests were in charge of the irrigation projects and ensured that all farmers were provided with the water they needed to grow crops.
3. As the cities grew, and the importance of the priests grew, temples, called Ziggurats, were built to honor the Gods. Everyone brought gifts to the temples for the Gods, but only the High Priest was allowed to speak to the Gods.
4. To keep track of the gifts that had been given to the gods by each individual, the priests slowly developed a system of writing called pictographs. Pictographs evolved over the years into stylized symbols, where each symbol represented a sound instead of representing a word. These markings are called Cuneiform. Cuneiform is the first written language that we have discovered so far.
5. In addition to inventing the first written language the Mesopotamians invented many other things we use today. These items included the wheel, and Wheeled platform (carts and chariots), the sailboat, the plow and plowseeder, irrigation, the hoe, many other tools, and finally a written set of laws.
6. Hammurabi’s code was written down so that everyone would know the laws. Each law had a set punishment which was applied equally to everyone throughout the empire. While harsh by our standards, these laws and punishments were the cornerstone of the idea of rule by law verses rule by decree and the idea of rule by law is a cornerstone of our own government.
Part of Unit: Mesopotamia
A) Back of Worksheet:
B) Front of Worksheet:
I. Name these pictographs (pick 4 from your list)
II. What does this cuneiform say? (using the "letters" you made up, create 3-4 words in cuneiform, such as HELLO, SUMER, MESOPOTAMIA.)
III.Write your name in Cuneiform.
Introduction/Motivation: Daily Drill: 5 minutes: Start the day with your daily drill. Introduce the students to the word Cuneiform. Inform them that this was the first written language.
Activity: 10 minutes. Reading from text about Cuneiform. If pictures are provided in the text, great. If not, find a source and use the overhead. The students should see examples of actual Cuneiform writing.
Activity: 15 minutes.
Activity: 10 minutes.
Activity: 10 minutes. Hand out activity worksheet on translating Cuneiform. Inform students that they are now writing in an entirely new (to them) language. Using the "translation" from the back of the worksheet, have students translate the cuneiform writing on the front of their worksheet. Be sure to mention that this is "your" cuneiform writing, and not actual cuneiform, which is much more complicated. Discuss this activity.
Homework: Students will write a paragraph describing the advantages of having a written language. Students will use at least two sources.
This assignment worked so well that, after they left class, my kids wrote notes to each other and to some of their teachers, in Cuneiform. Some have decided to do an extra credit project - making clay cuneiform tablets. It's an easy lesson to do, it gets the point across, and the kids really like it. We hope it works as well for you!
Mesopotamia, Babylon, Sumer
For links to detailed information on Cylinder Seals, Legend of Gilgamesh, The God Marduk, Text of Hammurabi's Code, Map of Sumer, and, for complete units, lesson plans and activities on other ancient civilizations, see Mr Donn's Ancient Mesopotamia Section for Kids and Teachers.