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Lost civilisations

Recently, I have discovered really interesting educational projects dedicated to create or recreate a civilisation. Few weeks ago, The Buck Institute of Education published on its blog the project Lost! based on a famous TV serial. The students are isolated, stuck in an island in the middle of the ocean due to an airplane crash. As the consequence of that, they have to create a civilisation for surviving. Moreover, in IES Castillo de Fatetar (Espera, Cádiz) the Department of Geography and History implemented a similar experience but focused on the Ancient Age, in which students had to create a lost civilisation conquered by Rome some centuries ago. You can follow this experience clicking on the following links: first session, second session and more. These amazing experiences loaned me some ideas to develop the project Lost civilisations in my classroom.

Description of the project and final product

Lost civilisations is a project which encourages to the students to create an ancient civilisation based on the features of the first Mediterranean civilisations. Teams will produce a presentation or a video on their lost civilization which must include a description of the main characteristics of a civilisation, according to the tasks done during the term. At the end of the project, teams will present the main features of their civilisations to the rest of the class.

Maquette de Rome on Wikimedia Commons, License CC BY

Maquette de Rome on Wikimedia Commons, License CC BY

Objectives

  1. Identify the first urban civilisations and understand their place in history.
  2. Understand the role of geography in the development of the ancient civilizations.
  3. Understand the social and economic organization of the ancient city-stared and the first empires.
  4. Recognise the importance of the invention of writing.
  5. Understand the religious beliefs of the ancient civilizations.
  6. Identify the characteristics of the ancient civilizations sculpture and architecture.
  7. Study and interpret different historical sources including texts, monuments, painting and sculptures.

Contents

  • Mesopotamia: the first city-states and the first empires.
  • Characteristics of the first writing systems.
  • Egypt: the rising of the Nile and the desert.
  • The Greek world.
  • Democracy in Athens. Athen’s Golden Age.
  • The kingdom of Macedonia and Alexander the Great.
  • The Roman Republic. Patricians and plebs. Assemblies and magistrates.
  • The Roman Empire.
  • Spain before the Roman Empire.
  • Ancient gods and religious beliefs.
  • Describe and analyse Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Greek and Roman art.
  • Make a concept map about the first urban civilizations.
  • Look up information about different aspects of ancient civilizations using diverse sources

Driving question

The students will be invited to create a civilisation with their group that withstands the test of time. Since much goes into planning a new civilization every single content area will be involved in the project. To do this, students learn about different aspects of ancient river valley civilisations and what characteristics are needed for a group of people to develop into an advanced civilization.

Resources

  • On-site people, facilities: all content teachers will have to make sure they cover the material for the project in their own class within enough time.
  • Equipment: laptops, Internet access, Google Docs, projector.
  • Materials: Computers, makers, posters, construction paper to start. Students will fill out a materials sheet if they need anything else, so they aren’t limited in their ideas and design.

Tasks

Sutdents will do the following tasks focused on the creation of an ancient lost civilisation.

  1. A map of the lost civilization.
  2. Environment elements which make a livable place.
  3. A mockup of the main city, including a temple, a palace and neighbourhoods.
  4. A description of the political system and economic activities (monetary unit).
  5. Social structure diagram.
  6. Type of writing system.
  7. Organised religion and gods.
  8. Civilisation timeline: when did it appear, several stages and when and why did it disappear.
  9. Sources found: historical text and artwork.

Evaluation standards and rubric

The project has been disegned for estimulating 21st century useful skills, such as collaborative work (initiate and participate effectively in arange of collaborative discussions), communication (present information, findings, and supporting evidence for a given purpose, audience, and task) investigation (searching and analysing information from several sources), critical hhinking (delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text) and reason abstractly and quantitatively.

The project will be evaluated through the following rubric:

Would you appeal to be a raider of lost worlds? You only need your imagination for travelling across the time…

Istanbul Archaelogy Museum on Wikimedia Commons, License PD

Istanbul Archaelogy Museum on Wikimedia Commons, License PD

The spaces of our lives

During the first term of this course, my 1st ESO students of Social Sciences developed a project called The map of my life. In this project, they made some maps using Google Maps where they presented several important places for their lives. This experience was suitable for introducing geographical concepts such as cartography and for presenting themselves to the rest of the class.

In the second term, I tried to approach this experience to challenge my pupils with a new task, focused on the diversity of spaces that exist on our planet. I made a collaborative map with different places extracted from the previous project, which contained meaningful areas according to their memories, expectatives or dreams. The map turned on a significant panel very useful to understand the variety of locations, relief elements, climates, economic resources and environmental problems in our world.

Each student made a presentation through Google Drive explaining the natural and human features of a place. This idea connects with some theories such as living space, developed by Social Geography several decades ago. According to theories, such as Kevin Lynch’s urban spaces, as space is lived, perceived and valued, it becomes more meaningful to us. Most of the 1st ESO students show a lot of difficulties to investigate and to apply acquired information in different contexts, so the goal resulted partly hard for them. The presentations were converted into a video format and embedded on the map. After that, all the pupils presented their places and conclusions to their classmates. You can access to the results of the project clicking on the picture below. The spaces of our lives

The evaluation standards were formulated in order to analyse maps information, reading correctly several aspects that are usually referred on maps; to locate correctly elements on relief maps; to identify the main relationships between climate and biomes; to link the several elements which conform geographical spaces; to describe the climate areas and how they condition economic resources and human activities; to compare the way of living of diverse societies; to be a better environmental awareness. And in addition, some useful key competences in the 21st century, For example, the initiation in investigation habits to criticise information, digital competences and oral presentations of the results.

I feel happy with the final product of the project, considering that this pupils are in the beginning of Secondary, a stage in which the students normally deal with new techniques and procedures to assimilate and to create knowledge. FInally, they worked really hard and they continually showed me their passion for learning.

They are the change

Be the change was an American educational project which inspired me to develop a similar experience in my Citizenship classroom. I invited my students to make a video which focuses on how to solve several tough problems which are actually affecting to us. One of my teachers told me one day that education is basically a process through the students should discover how to assume more responsibilities. Therefore, it’s necessary to push them to imagine and to achieve a better world.

It’s commonly thought that teenagers are a little superficial and that they are not really concerned about what is being reported in the news. Even it’s accepted as a matter of fact that they want to ignore relevant events such as the gap between rich and poor countries, wars, terrorism or exploitation. But I firmly disagree with this view. Youngsters are really passionate and they normally are engaged with projects which try to denounce unfairness. Their awareness against inequality is the most hopeful seed that we can nowadays cultivate. If we look after it, the next generations will collect a better society.
My students worked in groups. During several classes they completed a script to plan their videos. I allowed them the use of mobile phones to search information, to check the vocabulary and to edit the video, too. They worked with limited resources (no option), but with an unlimited willingness to criticise. Recession won’t stop the civic power of an awareness citizenship. In western democracies, possibly, this generation will face with really hard conditions to get a job and they will protest against clear  social inequality, claiming for more political transparency.

I would like to share with you three different videos about the status of women, violence and poverty made by my students. You won’t find on them awesome pictures and amazing effects. You will just watch young students presenting, writing or reflecting on adults’ world.


This is a humble work, but it worked to provide the necessary empowerment to my students. If students can feel real empowerment in educational tasks, they will be better prepared to rule the society in the future. Once, Gandhi said:

Be the change you wish to see in the world.

Every day, I can see it in my students’ eyes.

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