Ninth-grade students at Portville High School were learning about Ancient River Valley Civilizations, and they were using the G.R.A.P.E.S. organizer as a tool to categorize the information for each civilization:
An essential part of studying ancient history is for students to learn that a great deal of what’s known of these civilizations comes from archeological evidence. This is especially true for the Indus River Valley Civilization because their writing has never been successfully translated; everything known is from the work of archeologists. Because of this, an idea was born. Mr. Mitchell and Mr. Carey’s students became archeologists. Mr. Carey spent time highlighting critical aspects of the Indus River Valley so that during “the big dig,” students could infer connections from the artifacts that they discovered.
“The Big Dig”: Mr. Mitchell and Mr. Carey found artifacts that represented each section of the G.R.A.P.E.S.organizer. Next, they put the items in Ziploc bags and buried them in the school’s long-jump pit.
This active exploration proved to be a great simulation for the work of archeologists; students were able to infer what the artifacts represented and demonstrate a better understanding of the civilization. An example of an artifact used was a die and a game token. These items illustrated true archeological findings in the Indus River Valley as numerous game pieces were found but very few weapons, suggesting it was a peaceful and prosperous society.
The students rotated through six stations (G.R.A.P.E.S.) and really enjoyed digging, finding, and making inferences and connections about each item’s importance. Active student engagement increased their interest and understanding. As learners and educators, “WE DIG IT!”
By: Anne Mitchell, CA BOCES Professional Development
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