Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Civilization Curriculum

One last bit of house cleaning. Here is a very rough curriculum for the Civilization project from last year.


By the end of this project, students will be able to . . .
  • Describe the process by which societies rise and fall
  • Describe the importance of agriculture in the development of civilizations
  • Compare/contrast various civilizations throughout history
  • Compare/contrast different forms of government, including examples and strengths/weaknesses of each
  • Explain the different aspects of civilizations (using GRAPES) and the interactions between the various components
  • Create their own fully-functioning civilization within Minecraft and compare it to actual world civilizations
 By the end of this project, students will understand. . . 
  • the importance of agriculture and technological in the development of civilizations
  • the role of geography in the development of a civilization
  • how the Age of Exploration affected the global economy and power balance
Common Core Standards:
 Writing 2.b, c, d, f; 3.a, c; 4;
 Writing-Text Types 3.a
Comprehension & Collaboration 1; 2

California State History Standards:
 7.1.1, 7.2.2, 7.2.4, 7.2.5, 7.3.4, 7.4.1, 7.6.1, 7.6.3, 7.7.1, 7.7.2, 7.11.1, 7.11.3, 
Students worked in groups of four-five to create their own civilization, going through all of the stages of a developing society. Each group was placed on a different island equidistant from a mysterious "New Land". Each island was the same size, but had a completely different geography and biome. This had a profound impact upon how the students' civilizations developed. The group living in a desert had sand but no stone, the group in a forest had wood but no sand, etc. These differences rippled throughout all of the decisions the students made, including the development of their religion and architecture.

The biomes were:
  1. Desert
  2. Jungle
  3. Forest
  4. Mountain
  5. Ice land
  6. Plains

Each day, every student had to complete an entry in their "survival log". Here they would list how many times they died, challenges they faced, and their plans for the next class.

The project revolved around the completion of the "Civilization Packet". This packet is where students wrote down all of the different aspects of their civilization and island, from a list of resources to the leisure activities of their civilization's inhabitants. Each aspect also had a physical representation on their island. So, for example, if a group decided that their society valued swimming, they needed to construct a swimming pool on their island. If their religion included ritual sacrifice, they should include a sacrificial alter of some sort. 

Phase One: Survival - Students had to learn to work together and use the resources at their disposal to complete two objectives: Establish a stable food supply and build shelter. Many students initially killed all of their animals, resulting in starvation during the next class. By the end of this process, every group should have a system for breeding animals and/or growing crops. They must be able to protect their animals and crops from raiders.

Phase Two: Growth -- This is the heart of the project. Now that the basic needs are met, the civilizations can begin to grow and flourish. Students should spend between 1-2 hours developing each feature of their Civilization Packet. Each time you move on to a new page, go over the section as a class. Identify key terms and draw connections to curricular content and prior knowledge.

Phase Three: Trading -- In this phase, the class will develop a global economy. Each group will identify desired materials and set a value for what they have to trade. The "merchant" from each group then moves to a separate area, both in the game and in the classroom, and the bargaining begins. After around 3 rounds of this, a fairly stable economy will have developed.

Phase Four: Age of Exploration -- This is the phase of global conquest. Students are told that there is a large, untouched land past their borders. They then work together in a race to be the first group to reach the territory. This land is a giant city full of materials, items, and food. Once reaching the city, students could claim territory, pillage buildings, and make/break treaties with other groups. During this phase, connections to the actual Age of Exploration naturally develop. Students almost always either identify with Spain, the Native Americans, or England, and they are not shy about saying which group is which. Additionally, since this can be a very frustrating process, it also lends itself to teachable moments about the frustrations of the different groups and just how dangerous & scary exploration during this age actually was.

Phase Five: Archaeology -- By this point, students have created civilizations that rose, grew, and, in some cases, toppled catastrophically. Now it is time to jump far into the future. Students visit each others' islands and, based solely on their observations, make predictions about the civilization (their type of government, what life was like, etc). They then compare those to what the group actually developed. I somehow lost the handout for this phase. Sorry.

Download the handouts:
Survival Log
Civilization Packet

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