The sixth grade students have been studying the beginnings of communities and human civilization as we know it in Humanities class. They started the unit by reading foundational background information from their textbook History Alive: The Ancient World. The reading gave a summary about how our close cousins called Homo sapiens or wise men decided to give up the nomadic life for a more sedentary one. After working through the text, Ms. Parks showed a National Geographic movie to the sixth graders called The Birth of Civilization to bring this historical time period to life.
The Paleolithic Age, (aka The Old Stone Age), lasted roughly from 8000 to 3000 B.C. During this time, nomads roamed the Fertile Crescent in the Middle East hunting and gathering food. When they would run out of animals to hunt and plants to eat, they would move to find another area that could sustain their group or family. Obviously, this life was difficult and left these people in continual survival mode. When agriculture was finally understood and applied to a fertile land area, humans entered the Neolithic Age or New Stone Age around 3000 B.C. This was a great turning point for humankind. People began to settle together in larger groups and built permanent shelters or homes to live in. Now that people in the community were providing a stable food supply through farming and domestication of animals, other community members were able to work specialized jobs to contribute to the good of the group.Some common jobs during this time were blacksmiths, weavers, pottery makers, scribes, shamans, soldiers, and merchants. Once these communities could sustain their entire community, they began to want other goods that they did not have nearby. Out of this need, trading was born, merchants collected goods, and trade routes were made. Through trade routes, different ways of life and ideas were spread, which starting to educate and connect the world.
After learning all of this information, the sixth graders were assessed by taking a standard summative test that included sections that had multiple choice questions, map reading, analysis, and writing. Since each student was required to take notes during the movie, they were able to use their notes on this assessment. The other way Ms. Parks checked for student understanding was for each person to make a graphic organizer of ideas and pictures that told the story of humans moving from a nomadic life to a more community-based civilization. Please check out the pictures above that show a few great examples of their Birth of Civilization Mind Maps and enthusiastic sixth graders.