Showing posts from 2016

Reflecting on Barter Day

Today's classwork is to reflect a little bit on the concepts around Barter Day, and to think about the earliest communities who started trading about 10,000 years ago. You can read more specifically about those first farm towns in previous Blog posts.

In understanding the marketplace and trade, it is important to know some basic economic terms:

Surplus: (noun) an extra supply of something. This could mean extra anything, but in this context we're usually talking about crops, or natural resources like wood or a certain kind of stone. Having a surplus is important to trade because people would never trade materials they needed to survive. It was only when farming produced more food than the village needed that they then traded the extra to other villages for things the people did not have.

Scarcity: (noun) not enough of something. Early farm towns often had scarcities of natural resources depending on where the town was located, such as a scarcity of wood in Egypt, or a scarcity…

Rock Out with the Mesopotamians

Check out this fun song from They Might Be Giants...

National Geography Bee 2017

According to our Social Studies Department's tradition, the couple of days after winter break are used to administer the qualifying rounds of the National Geography Bee sponsored by National GeographicMagazine, and held each year for students in grades 6-12.

Each Cluster at Pollard and High Rock will find a winner, and each grade level will have runoffs to determine a school representative for the regional championships. Eventually, students compete for the state championship, the winner of which will represent Massachusetts at the national competition in Washington, D.C.

The first rounds will be held in our cluster on the day after winter break. There are seven rounds, and each student has an opportunity to earn one point for a correct answer in each round.

If you are interested in knowing more about the Bee, the prizes, and previous years' winners, just check out this link:

Living in an Early Farm Town

Next week's work involves illustrating a scene from the Neolithic Era.

You will have a better understanding of this time period by reading a passage from A Message of Ancient Days (p. 118-133) and answering four questions about life in one of the earliest Neolithic (Stone Age farming) communities.

In this case, the town is called Çatal Huyuk and it is located in the present day country of Turkey. More directions will be posted on MyHomework tomorrow.

After looking at the readings on the early Neolithic period (Message of Ancient Days pgs. 127-133), the text asks you to answer the following questions:

1. What was life like in a Neolithic farming town?

You would live in a mud-brick house and take care of fields of crops outside of the village. Besides growing food, your family would continue to hunt wild animals and gather plants and berries. There would be different jobs for the different people in the town. The town would have a surplus of grain to trade with other people nearb…

Barter Day 2016!

As part of our study of ancient civilizations, students will be learning about the development of the first economies. Key concepts of this unit include surplus-scarcity, supply and demand, and trade; money was not used. To give students a clearer understanding of the concept of trading, or bartering, we will have “Barter Day” on Thursday, December 22nd.

On Barter Day, students will become artisans in a marketplace and trade their “goods” with other students to learn about the challenges (and fun) of bartering. In the process, students learn about the importance of supply and demand and about competition in the marketplace.

To participate on Barter Day, students should look around the house for unwanted tacky knickknacks, trinkets, toys, or other junk treasure. The items that students bring in should be no more than can fit all together on a desk. The things that students bring in are for trading. Students should not bring in anything of value, or anything that is special to them. S…

Stable Food Supply... Or Soylent Green??

When we look at a certain civilization, any civilization, the first and most important aspect is its stable food supply. Without a regular and dependable supply of food, a civilization will begin to break down into chaos.

History includes several examples of times and places in which hunger and a desire for food has caused political or social troubles: Russia in 1910 and 1917, the U.S. and Germany in the 1930s, the Soviet Union in the 1980s and 90s, and certain African countries in the 1970s up until the present day (sadly).

About three years ago, the price of wheat worldwide spiked and products such as bread and pasta almost doubled in price. The video below shows a survey of how different countries' news stations covered the crisis. Notice that in the U.S. the story focused on how much more pastries would cost, while in Egypt and Pakistan people were rioting and in a state of panic over the higher price and lower supply of bread:

In movies, there is one great example of what mi…

Domesticating Animals: Some fun Video Clips

In class, we talked about some of the differences between wild and domesticated animals. Sheep, for example, looked more like mountain goats and lived in the wild. Over time, humans bred them to be dumber, bigger, woolier, and more tame.

In the first video, a farmer in Wales (in Great Britain) demonstrates two domesticated animals working to create quite a light show--the trained shepherd dog that arranges the sheep according to the farmer's whistle commands, and the sheep that are herded around the hill side.

In another funny video, an Australian man sets the world record for speed sheep-shearing!

Ancient Near East Map

In class we started mapping the Middle East and Mediterranean regions, where the ancient civilizations we study were located.
Our focus of study for the Mesopotamia unit is really the entire Fertile Crescent: An area that stretches from the Nile Valley of Egypt in the west, northward to Palestine, westward across the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, and southward to the Persian Gulf. Surrounded by inhospitable deserts, the Fertile Crescent is an area that has good soil for farming, rivers for water, and is in a strategic location for trade.

Here is a copy of the Ancient Near East map that we are completing in class. Click on it for a larger version.

On the Ancient Map, locate:
Mediterranean Sea
Black Sea
Caspian Sea
Red Sea
Dead Sea
Persian Gulf

Euphrates River
Tigris River
Nile River
Jordan River

The Fertile Crescent

Zagros Mountains
Taurus Mountains
Caucasus Mountains

Syrian Desert
Arabian Desert

Mesopotamia itself comes from the Greek meaning "t…

Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day

"Yesterday, December 7, 1941 -- a date which will live in infamy -- the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan." This was the first line of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's speech to Congress after the United States was attacked by imperial Japan, and almost 3,000 Americans died.
The attack at Pearl Harbor brought the United States into World War II on the side of the Allies. Four years later, the German and Japanese were defeated, the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and several million people perished in Europe and Asia.

It is so important for us today to keep in mind the significance of Pearl Harbor:
That every day there are men and women in the armed forces who are willing to fight and die for our freedom.That governments based on fascism, repression, militarism, and racism are dangerous to people who love liberty.That it is important to stand up to what is wrong, and fight fo…

In Search of Human Origins: Lucy

At the beginning of our Human Origins unit, we'll watch the first part of the NOVA special called In Search of Human Originsfrom PBS. The video is narrated by famous paleoanthropologist Donald Johanson and recalls the discovery of the oldest, most complete human skeleton found.

The creature was an australopithecus afarensis, and nicknamed "Lucy." For classwork and homework this week, you will need to fill in the chart about Lucy's Bones. The notes for the chart are below. In class we only watch the first 34 minutes:

From the fragments of Lucy’s skeleton, scientists were able to find out a number of facts about her. In class you received a grid to record which skeletal fragments give us certain information. Make sure you have listed each fragment and what anthropologists were able to learn from it.

Pelvic Bones Show…
That Lucy was female
Pelvic bones show the gender of the once living hominid

Leg Bones Show…
That Lucy was about 3.5 feet tall (height)
That she was abou…

The Skull in the Rock by Lee Berger

In class, we were using the PORST reading strategy while looking at the bookThe Skull in the Rock by paleoanthropologist Lee Berger and writer Marc Aronson and published by National Geographic.

We've been taking notes in the "boxes and bullets" format with a summary of each chapter using a main idea "box" at the top of the page and bullets for the supporting details.

The PQRST method includes the following steps:

PREVIEW - Preview the text, look at the pictures, read captions, titles and subtitles

QUESTION - Think of a question that gets to the main point of the chapter you're about to read

READ - Read the chapter a paragraph or two at a time, and stop to reread parts that might be difficult

SUMMARIZE - Write a single bullet for each paragraph or two to tell the main points you read

TEST YOURSELF/TALK ABOUT IT - Be sure you understand and respond to what you read

Also, here's a video from National Geographic of Lee Berger talking about how he used Googl…