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Showing posts from 2016

Reflecting on Barter Day

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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

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





National Geography Bee 2017

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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:

http://www.nationalgeographic.com/geobee/










Living in an Early Farm Town

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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!

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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??

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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

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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

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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

Anatolia
Persia
Mesopotamia
The Fertile Crescent
Egypt

Zagros Mountains
Taurus Mountains
Caucasus Mountains

Syrian Desert
Arabian Desert


Mesopotamia itself comes from the Greek meaning "t…

The Agricultural Revolution

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Without a stable food supply, human civilization would not exist. About 7,000-10,000 years ago something special happened: hunter-gatherers learned that they could save and plant seeds instead of continuing to wander around looking for food. This began the agricultural revolution, and the Neolithic Age of human history. Rather than moving from place to place, groups of people settled in small villages permanently.

Check out this BrainPop video and try the quiz at the end:

The Agricultural Revolution
In class, we've been looking at a few key questions about these first human settlements:

1. How did humans go from hunting and gathering to farming?
    -What changes happened in the way humans lived?
    -What are some advantages and disadvantages of farming?

2. What (where) are some of the earliest known settlements?

3. What was life like in an early Neolithic town? (daily life, homes, jobs, food, etc.)

4. What tools or technology did humans develop at this time?

5. What is a surplus…

Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day

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"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…

"Learning to Farm" Chart

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In class, we will examine the development of agriculture and compare hunter-gatherers to early Neolithic farmers. As humans domesticated plants and animals, the plants and animals themselves change over time. Wild sheep and mountain goats get fatter, slower, dumber, and lose their balance. Plants get bigger and more nutritious as farmers choose which seeds to keep and which to throw away.

On a new note page titled "Learning to Farm" copy the following charts to help compare the Paleolithic hunter-gatherers to the Neolithic farmers.

Learning to Farm From Paleolithic to Neolithic… 7,000 - 10,000 years ago
Hunter-Gatherers
How did hunter-gatherers deal with plants?
Harvested wild grainGathered berries, nuts and rootsTRIED to save food for times when there was none
How did hunter-gatherers deal with animals?
Followed herdsHunted wild animalsProtected herds by driving off predators
Neolithic Farmers
How did  Neolithic farmers deal with plants?
Domesticated plantsSelected and sowed (pla…

Ancient Near East Unit Vocabulary

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In your notebook or on Quizlet, be sure to copy the words and the definitions for our Mesopotamia/Ancient Near East Unit. You only need to copy the definition, not the example sentence.

1. Agriculture:
Agriculture means the growing of crops and the raising of animals for food (also called farming).

The discovery of agriculture was a huge development for humans. Instead of hunting and gathering and having no permanent homes, agriculture allowed people to build cities and to produce more food than they needed to survive.


2. Domesticate:
To domesticate means to make plants and animals more useful to humans.

At the same time humans started to farm, they also domesticated animals, including chicken and pigs for food, cows for pulling plows, bees for making honey, and sheep for wool.




3. Surplus:
A surplus is an extra of something, especially crops.

Because early farm towns produced a surplus of food, people were able to have different jobs like priests, builders, government officials, artisans, …

Otzi the Iceman: Murder Mystery!

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Here's the PBS NOVA episode of the Iceman Murder Mystery we started in class. A few things to look for:

How did Iceman die?
What was prehistoric life like?
Why was the axe so special?


One day about 5,300 years ago a man left a small village in the Italian Alps. He might have been selling flint to other Neolithic settlements on the northern side of the mountains, in what is Austria today. However, his journey took a tragic turn when he got caught in a nasty snow drift and died. In 1991 a couple of hikers came across the body sticking out of a melting glacier and called for help. A group of archaeologists took the body back to the University of Innsbruck in Austria, and "Otzi" became an instant celebrity.

After some intensive studies and examination of the Iceman and his belongings, archaeologists have learned a great deal about the Chalcolithic period of European history. Just try busting that word out at a party: Chalcolithic! It's just a smart word to describe the p…

Paleolithic Art: Lascaux, France

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In 1940, in southwestern France, a group of school boys stumbled upon an amazing sight--a huge cave complex housing over 600 paintings and over 1500 engravings. The images showed several kinds of animals--birds, as well as cattle, bison, deer, and horses--and hundreds of "signs," shapes, dots, and other patterns. After archaeologists had a chance to study the cave art, they determined that the imagines were left by hunter-gatherers more than 15,000 years ago.

The caves at Lascaux contain some of the earliest known art in human history, dating back to somewhere between 15,000 and as far back as 27,000 years ago. The Paleolithic cave paintings consist mostly of realistic images of large animals. The other common theme of the paintings is a number of human hand prints. Pigments (paints) are made from ingredients such as plants, berries, rust, charcoal and dirt. The paintings demonstrate the advancement of Cro-Magnon humans and their way of life, and actually show the quality …

Hunters and Gatherers

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You've read the passage from A Message of Ancient Days about the development of early humans from the time of Homo erectus until the group of people known as Cro-Magnons who lived in what is modern France and made phenomenal cave art. One of the first things you may notice is that the reading talks about Homo heidelbergensis.

The important point to know is that Homo heidelbergensis is just a type of Homo erectus that lived in Europe about 500,000 years ago in what is today Germany, France, and Spain. This type of human ancestor exhibited the first aspects of culture in the human species: living together, making and using tools, making and controlling fire, adapting to colder climates, and hunting in coordinated groups.

A few interesting points of information came out of the reading.

1. First, human culture became more complex from the time of Homo heidelbergensis to the time of Cro Magnons:
 Homo heidelbergensis lived in small groups of 20-30 people who traveled over a wide area hu…

PBS NOVA: Dawn of Humanity

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Check out this cool new episode of Nova that details the latest developments of Lee Berger and his crew in tracing the origins of the human species.

Uncovering Clues to Our Past

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In class, we are reading about the development of humans from a small ape-like creature that lived in eastern Africa called Australopithecus afarensis to the Homo sapiens hunter-gatherers who survived the Ice Ages.


Remember to put your NAME, BLOCK, the DATE and TITLE on the top in a proper heading!

In the blue book, A Message of Ancient Days, students read pages 90-95 and completed questions 1, 2, 3, and 4 on page 95. Put a mini-check next to correct answers, but add any details that you might have missed...

The questions and notes from class:

1. What have scientists learned about our earliest ancestors?
That the earliest humans lived between 1 and 4 million years agoEarly humans used simple tools at first, but more complicated ones as time went onHumans walked on two feet (were bipedal), which is different from modern apesHumans had smaller brains than modern humans (an australopithecus's brain was 1/3 the size of us)Humans' appearance (bone structure) changed over time"L…

PBS Nova: Becoming Human

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In class we started watching a PBS video of the show NOVA. The episode is called "Becoming Human," and it traces the earliest human ancestors to our present day species. The entire video is quite long, but in case you were interested in more than we got to in class, here is the entire show.







Also, here are a couple of websites that might be interesting to explore:

http://www.becominghuman.org/

NOVA's official website for the "Becoming Human" show


Also, check out this really cool website of a journalist from National Geographic that is walking the same route taken by human ancestors from East Africa to the rest of the populated areas of the world. Here's a description from the website: http://www.outofedenwalk.com/


A JOURNEY THROUGH TIME Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and National Geographic Fellow Paul Salopek is retracing on foot the global migration of our ancestors in a 21,000-mile, seven-year odyssey that begins in Ethiopia and ends in Tierra del Fuego.…

Early Human Evolution: Book Creator Project

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In class this week we are working on our Early Humans Word Cards on the Book Creator app for iPad. Be sure yours are legible, neat, and all the information is accurate. You will be able to use them on our quiz.



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Human Origins Study Cards

Objective: To show the progression of human evolution from Ardipithecus ramidus to Homo sapiens.

After reading the instructions for creating a set of Early Human word cards, use the following information to fill out each page of your Book Creator Book. Copy accurately and neatly. Check with me BEFORE looking for any images!

Ardipithecus ramidus ("Ardi") is one of the latest human species found. National Geographic magazine featured an interesting article last year that is worth checking out.

There are five major stages of human development:

Ardipithecus ramidus ("Ardi") Lived about 4.4 million years agoWalked upright on two feet (bipedal)Had a grasping toe (for climbing)About 4 feet tallHuman…