Teachable Moments; Best Way to Learn about Ancient Civilizations? Go There

By Davis, Brandon | The Florida Times Union, March 24, 2014 | Go to article overview

Teachable Moments; Best Way to Learn about Ancient Civilizations? Go There


Davis, Brandon, The Florida Times Union


Byline: Brandon Davis

Monica Crisp, who has taught sixth- and seventh-grade social studies for nine years at Arlington Middle School, admits teaching students about ancient civilizations is challenging.

But what has helped her make learning exciting? The old thinking outside the box.

For example, Crisp allowed her sixth- and seventh-graders to explore the Mediterranean without leaving the classroom. Crisp brought Egyptian culture to life by buying papyrus; her students completed their work on the unique paper instead of just reading about it in their textbooks.

She also taught her students about Mesopotamian language by bringing adobe clay to the classroom, and she had the children write their names in cuneiform, the ancient writing form in Mesopotamia.

Crisp also re-created the story of Moses and the Ten Commandments by taking her class outdoors to throw mud bricks down to the ground to see if they would break.

Crisp decided that if she were going to teach social studies, then she would have to go beyond traditional lectures and note-taking. She connects her students to the lessons by selecting skits for her children to perform, group exercises and peer-to-peer teaching.

Not only did Crisp spend her personal time creating exercises for students, she has also spent her own money to help advance her students' educational experience. Crisp's strong desire to educate her students compelled her to partner with fellow teachers to ensure the children were achieving scholastic success in every subject.

Crisp collaborated with the language arts, science and math teachers to have her students build a city in India named Mohenjo-daro out of clay. Participating teachers taught the students about the city as it pertained to their subjects. The language arts teacher taught the students Indian words. The students used math to develop the scale size of the city, and they used science to build an irrigation system.

"When I did these sorts of projects, my kids wanted to come to class and learn ...," Crisp said.

The projects brought tremendous energy to her class. Hands-on activities broke up the monotony of traditional reading assignments and quizzes.

"Learning doesn't have to be boring. It can be so much fun," Crisp said.

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