Suggested length: 3-5 class periods (45-55 minutes each)
Device accessibility: 1 device per 1-2 students
At a glance
In this lesson, students will explore a fully developed Kialo discussion on the question, “which Bronze-Age civilization would be better to live in: Egypt or Mesopotamia?” In doing so, students will prepare for a group presentation on the topic: Which Bronze-Age civilization would be better to live in: Egypt or Mesopotamia? Give three reasons to support your choice, and explain your reasoning.
In this lesson, students will:
- Explore a variety of topics related to the Bronze-Age civilizations of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia: society and culture, politics, art, warfare, technology, and economics.
- Take and defend a position based upon their personal values through a group presentation.
- [Optional] Conduct independent research.
Students should be familiar with the locations of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia and have a basic knowledge of their societies (e.g. what a pharaoh is, what a ziggurat is, the existence of the Great Pyramids, the fact that Mesopotamia comprised several different peoples). Students should know that ancient history can be subdivided into different periods, including the Bronze Age.
- There is no need to clone this discussion. Students can explore the discussion by clicking this link.
- If you would like to invite students to the discussion using the “Share” button or the Teams feature, create 1 clone of the discussion for yourself.
- When inviting students to the discussion, give them Viewer permissions.
- The Kialo discussion, “Which Bronze-Age Civilization Would be Better to Live in: Egypt or Mesopotamia?” This includes:
- A brief background on Bronze-Age Egypt and Mesopotamia.
- A fully developed Kialo discussion for students to explore. The discussion covers a variety of topics related to the Bronze-Age civilizations of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, including society and culture, politics, art, warfare, technology, and economics.
- Lesson plan for educators (.docx / .pdf).
- Graphic organizer for students (.docx / .pdf).
- Suggested rubric for grading a group presentation (.docx / .pdf).
- Click here to download all offline materials (.zip).
Suggested length: 3-5 class periods (45-55 minutes each)
– Opener (5-15 minutes)
– Part A: Researching ideas (focus of 1 class period)
– Part B: Preparing presentations (focus of 1-2 class periods)
– Part C: Delivering presentations (focus of 1-2 class periods)
– Optional closer (2 minutes)
Group presentations on the topic: Which Bronze-Age civilization would be better to live in: Egypt or Mesopotamia? Give three reasons to support your choice, and explain your reasoning. (see suggested rubric in provided materials)
– Google Slides is an excellent platform for collaborative presentations, where students on separate devices can simultaneously view and edit PowerPoint-style presentations.
– When making their decision between Egypt of Mesopotamia, encourage students to think about their values. Do students value art or technology more highly? Social stability or social mobility? How might a student’s gender or other identities impact their choice?
Opener (5-15 minutes)
- Spark student interest by posing one or both of the following questions to the whole class and conducting a brief discussion around students’ answers:
- Which do you think is more important for a society: being the best at arts, culture, and science, or being the most powerful militarily?
- Which society would you rather live in: a freer society, or a more stable, secure society?
- Explain that these are good questions to consider when dealing with today’s topic: Which Bronze-Age civilization would be better to live in: Egypt or Mesopotamia? Inform students that they will give group presentations on this topic, using:
- The present class period to gather ideas for presentations, by exploring a related Kialo discussion.
- The next 1-2 class periods to prepare the presentations.
- A final 1-2 class periods to deliver the presentations.
Optional extension: Activate knowledge by showing the TEDed videos “A day in the life of an ancient Babylonian business mogul” and “A day in the life of an ancient Egyptian doctor.”
Part A: Explore the Kialo discussion (focus of 1 class period)
- Distribute and go over the assignment rubric.
- Create student groups or let students form their own groups.
Tip: To give students some agency, let them explore the Kialo discussion for 10-15 minutes before asking them to pick their civilization. They do not need to make this choice as soon as they form their groups.
- Distribute and go over the graphic organizer.
- Ask students to decide whether they would prefer to live in Bronze-Age Egypt or Mesopotamia. Direct students to begin consulting the Kialo discussion for ideas on the topic while taking notes and/or filling out the graphic organizers. Tell students to write down what they find the most important in the discussion for making their choice and why, as well as why their chosen civilization is better on this point than the other civilization.
Tip: Encourage students to explore the entire Kialo discussion, not just the branches whose top claims support the students’ chosen civilization. Useful information can be found in all branches of the Kialo discussion.
Optional differentiation: You can direct students in need of a greater challenge to also search for information from additional sources.
Part B: Preparing presentations (focus of 1-2 class periods)
- Direct student groups to continue consulting the Kialo discussion for ideas on the topic while taking notes and/or filling out the graphic organizers.
- Direct students to begin preparing their presentations using the notes that they took while exploring the Kialo discussion. Advise students to use the structure of the graphic organizer as a template for the content and structure of their presentations.
Part C: Delivering presentations (focus of 1-2 class periods)
- Students deliver their presentations.
Optional extension: Open up the floor for questions after each presentation.
Optional closer (2 minutes)
- Invite students to consider the timespan of Bronze-Age Egypt and Mesopotamia: more than 2,000 years, or about as long as the time between Julius Caesar and today. Explain that Bronze-Age Egyptians and Mesopotamians probably thought that their incredibly old civilizations would last forever, when of course they did not. Invite students to consider that no civilization, even our own, is immune from collapse.
- Share a quote from The Red Pyramid, a novel by American author Rick Riordan:
“The Ancient Egyptians were not fools, Carter. They built the pyramids. They created the first great nation state. Their civilization lasted thousands of years.”
“Yeah,” I said. “And now they’re gone.”