| Integrated Units-Ancient
I taught a class of social studies
students how to create a "visual representation" of their
knowledge about life in Ancient Egypt. The social studies
teacher of this class gave me a textbook on Egypt, enabling
me to know what students already knew. After reading the textbook,
I set short and intermediate goals for the students.
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Students will be able to show or demonstrate their knowledge of Ancient
Egyptian life and environ visually.
- Ancient Egypt by John Baines (any textbook that
explores Egypt can be used).
- Colored Construction Paper
- Pencils: color and standard
- Water-Based Paint
- Glue Stick
Can students visualize their knowledge of Ancient Egyptian Life? The
best way to help students retain their knowledge of anything is to
help them recreate what they know visually.
- I did a brainstorming exercise with the students to see how
much they knew about Ancient Egypt (the students were already
familiar with life in Egypt through the textbook and their social
- I gave a brief lecture on each of the topics (see the four
Following are four topics that portray lifestyles in Ancient Egypt:
- The Gods of Egypt
- The pyramids of Egypt and the environment
- The Sahara desert and the oases in Egypt.
- The river Nile and life along the Nile.
- I began with a starter exercise: after familiarizing the students
with the four topics and their learning objectives, I asked them
to pick any of the four topics and explore it individually on
short-term goal basis.
- I then split the class into 4 cooperative groups and assigned
each group with one of the four topics in question.
- I instructed each group to examine their respective topics in
the textbook, paying attention to the pictorial elements in words
and drawings in relation to their assigned topics.
- We then had a session of quick drawings for about twenty minutes
to prepare the students for the upcoming group projects. This
exercise enabled the class to get to know their materials, how
to apply them, and help them set their goals for the intermediate
- Group members reviewed their topic together.
- Each student drew, designed, and colored pictorial elements
relating to the topics in question.
- Each pictorial element was cut out and the pieces from each
group were assembled. Students then arranged and rearranged these
elements on a large background construction paper until they arrived
at a clear picture befitting their topic.
- Using glue stick, students pasted these pictorial elements on
the large background paper and produce a final landscape.
- The final projects were mounted on black background paper.
- After works were mounted, each group was asked to critique
their own work, as well as works by other groups.
- These criticisms enabled students to write about their group
Criteria was set up for students' assessment of the four works, for
example, drawing, composition, proportioning, good use of art materials
and other resources, good finishing, neatness, and context.
The student assessment was based on the following:
- Did the unit reflect students' understanding of what they read
from the book?
- What was their visual perception and interpretation of what
they read about Egypt?
- Were students able to correlate Ancient Egypt with the contemporary
- What was the quality of students' drawing and cut-outs?
- Did proportion play a significant role in the overall composition?
- What was the general outlook on composition and color harmony?
- Were the students involved in this unit satisfied with the
outcome of their product?
The time period for this lesson depended on the intended size of the
projects, but it could take between four to six periods of 45 minutes
The lessons were very practical, in an 'all hands on deck' way. Students
were very eager to participate, knowing that the success of their
projects depended upon each participant's honest contribution.
Students discussed how working in cooperative grouping benefited them,
and whether transforming their knowledge of Ancient Egyptian Life
into visual images in any way increased their outlook on Egypt. They
saw the joy of cooperative work, and the beneficial interaction involved
in peer tutoring. The outcome was stunning, and there was great feedback
from fellow students, faculty members, school staff, and visitors
to the school.
Students were able to see that they could create a visual representation
of any text they read from a book. They had a taste of what future
job markets might require of them as 'team-players' in a corporate
establishment. They discovered that group cooperative activity left
a long lasting memory of what was learned, and made it easier for
them to apply certain aspects of their knowledge to their daily life
undertakings when necessary. The unit presented a clearer vision of
what Ancient Egypt stood for to the students, because it was their