Monday, October 26, 2009

52 Teachers, 52 Lessons #34: Discovery Learning

This week's entry is from Julie of School of Blog, where it is also crossposted. It's a great example of authentic discovery learning that other teachers can learn from.

  • We are in the middle of studying early American societies, and have just finished learning about Mississippian (mound builders) and TaĆ­no societies
  • This lesson introduces students to early Mesoamerican societies (Maya, Mixtec, Zapotec, Olmec, Aztec)
  • The students will visit the website of ImageBase (
  • I have assigned several students to each Mesoamerican society (Maya, Mixtec, etc.) In the "Search" box at ImageBase, the students in the Maya group will enter "Maya," which will generate images of artifacts.
  • The students will choose one artifact to analyze.
  • The students will complete a worksheet that will help them analyze their artifact. The point of the analysis is for students to understand what "stuff," or material culture, can teach us about the people that used it.
  • Once they finish the analysis, they will bring what they've learned and "jigsaw" it with the other students. Next steps include a more general discussion of those societies, trade networks, etc.
I've found that this type of activity is great for kids with language processing difficulties and English language learners. If I'm delivering content day after day through English-language documents, films, and discussions, it's nice to take a break and have students learn history by examining an artifact.

Read more about this project here, then email your entries to teachforever AT gmail DOT com. Week 35 is scheduled for next Monday, November 2nd.

As promised, the PDF version of Ten Cheap Lessons: Second Edition will be available for free all day today!