In Middle School History, students are examining history by studying ancient sites and designing museum exhibits.

We began Block 4 by reading an article in latest issue of Smithsonian Magazine, which tells the story behind an exciting new archaeological site in Greece. The students learned how the site was discovered, who has worked on excavating it, what was found there, and how all of this impacts our understanding of the ancient world. This was a fabulous springboard to a block dedicated to creating museum exhibits.

Working in groups of three or four, each group cooperatively chose an ancient Greek site to study. The sites represented diverse aspects of ancient Greece, from a trade vessel to a religious monument to a home, and included Delphi, Olympia, the Palace of Nestor, Mycenae, the Uluburun shipwreck, and Delos. Using library and internet sources, each group conducted research on their site, learning about the ancient purpose and significance of it and also gaining an understanding of how it was excavated.

The students then designed museum exhibits of their sites. They created models from clay, foam board, popsicle sticks, and origami. One student even created an extraordinary set of armor, including a sword, ax, and helmet, from paper plates. They pulled these together into displays with explanatory labels, maps, photos, and drawings. On our final day, the groups introduced their exhibits to one another through oral presentations.

Reflecting on their favorite parts of the block, the students noted that they liked learning to listen and understand while working in a group, they liked working with new people, and they liked conducting their research and creating their exhibits together. So while the students definitely learned quite a lot about the archaeology of ancient Greece, they also came away with valuable skills for learning and creating together.

-- Ilyse Gordis