Greek Week: an ah-ha moment
8/10/2011 Tim, new teacher, North Carolina
8/11/2011 Students Friend response
High school students can be too cool for school, so there is a possibility some might scoff at the prospect of acting Greek for a week. (I conducted this activity mostly with 9th graders.) I gave each class the option of skipping Greek Week. But if we were to go ahead, each student would be reqired to participate. Students weren't about to pass up a week away from their normal studies, so peer pressure always brought up each student's hand.
Underlying the week-long activity (90-minute blocks each day) was the competition between Greek city-states, or the polis. In reality, of course, the ancient Greek city states were highly competitive. Our classroom competition was the key to demonstrating that citizens and leaders in a democracy may place their own self interest above the good of the larger society...and that ethics may be compromised in the process. This led to the "ah ha moment" you mentioned.
Points were also awarded for victories in the Olympic games. Where appropriate, 2nd and 3rd place finishers received lesser points than the winners. A polis could earn negative points by leaving a mess in their polis area or for inappropriate behavior. They could earn positive and negative points from the Fates as well, and for just about any excuse I could dream up.
At the beginning of the simulation, I motivated students by telling them that the results would affect their grade. Occasionally the competition got so fierce that I had to tone it down. At the end of the activity I awarded the members of each city-state a participation grade of 100 out of 100 and awarded additional bonus points for the polis that finished first, a lesser number of bonus points for the polis that came in second, and so on. So Greek Week did affect everyone's grade, but only in a positive way.
1/14/2011 Joel, first-year teacher, Iowa
1/29/2011 Students Friend response
1/31/2011 Joel response
I bought karaoke songs off of Itunes, and then the kids rewrote lyrics with topics and info from Student's Friend. After they rewrote songs, they sang and recorded their songs using a free audio editing program from the internet (Audacity). It acted as a good review and the kids thoroughly enjoyed the project, especially today when we listened to each others' songs. This project definitely needs some fine tuning, but overall I am very happy with the end results.
And here is a sample of a student musical project; it's about British Admiral Horatio Nelson: click here.
1/21/2003 Dan, veteran teacher, Arkansas
I feel that you must attach any new information to something that is at least familiar to the student. In my experience, vocabulary plays the greatest role in the increase of knowledge. It seems to me that there are only two ways to have a thought. One either converts a mental picture into a word or converts a word into a mental picture. Try to have a thought about anything and see if it requires these two actions. If this is true, then the greater one's vocabulary the greater one's thought processes will be. So, by attaching new ideas to old knowledge (read mental pictures and already known facts) it becomes easier for the student to process the information.
Back to my original idea, at this particular moment most of the students have seen Saving Private Ryan or some other movie surrounding WWII; so, I use that info to work into the fact that William launched his invasion from Normandy and the Allies returned to that site to invade Fortress Europe. Ironic? At least, maybe.
I do not hold with the notion that content is less important than learning the how to's. Both are significant in the process. Ed Hirsch isn't totally right nor is he totally wrong! Cultural Illiteracy is a problem; but the inability to problem-solve is likewise a problem.