Episode 101: Classroom Resources (Ancient Era)

Hello teachers! On this page you’ll find resources for extending the conversations from the podcast into your classroom. Ideas and instructions are explained below but you can also find all resources that were created by me in my Google Drive folder that I have made public for you to use!

Episode 101: The Ancient Era,
or “Ain’t no river valley wide enough”
  • Before they listen: Previewing the Neolithic Revolution
    Episode 101 – Neolithic Rev. in paintings

    1. Display each of the images in the PowerPoint one at a time. Have the students view each image and discuss with partners what they see and what they can assume about these people from the picture.
    2. As you show each picture, focus on what is changing as they progress. The key takeaway is for students to see for themselves and explain in their own words how societies changed with the discovery of agriculture before they learn about the details and the complex terms associated with the event.
  • As they listen: Compare the River Valley Civilizations
    SPICE Chart – Introduction
    SPICE Chart – River Valley Civilizations

    1. Introduce the SPICE chart as a tool for understanding civilizations that students will learn throughout the year. If you want to make sure students understand the five categories, have them first create a SPICE chart of the United States today or create it together as a class!
    2. Have students take notes on the four river valley civilization in their SPICE chart. They should jot down terms and phrases – not complete sentences!
    3. After they have created their charts individually, get students into small groups to share and compare what they came up with so that they have a complete chart by the end.
    4. Using a highlighter, have students annotate similarities that they notice across different civilizations. They could use three colors: yellow for something 2 civilizations share; blue for something 3 civilizations share; and pink for something all 4 share.
      • For example, they would use highlight in pink the word “patriarchy” in every civilization’s Social column.
    5. Finally, have students circle characteristics that are unique to just one civilization. Since the River Valley Civilizations share so many similarities, the easiest way to study them is to assume that they all have the same basic elements except when we know about an exception.
      • For example, they would circle “ancestor worship/oracle bones” in China’s Culture column since the other three civilizations practiced more traditional polytheistic worship of natural gods.
  • After they listen: Debating the Neolithic Revolution
    *Disclaimer: This is from the Big History Project, which is a fantastic teacher resource. I was unable to find the full lesson on their website anymore but you should register as a teacher to get a ton of new (free!) resources!
    101 – Debating the Neolithic Revolution Introduction
    101 – Debating the Neolithic Revolution group handouts

    1. Have students brainstorm all of the positive developments that came with the discovery of agriculture and the rise of civilization. Use the images in the PowerPoint as prompts to stimulate this discussion.
    2. Get students into small groups and give them one of the excerpts. Each of these is a scholar with a different opinion on whether the Neolithic Revolution was a positive or negative development in human history. After they read the excerpt, have students highlight the scholar’s main argument (thesis) and circle at least three pieces of evidence they use to back up their claim.
    3. Jigsaw the groups so that there are new small groups with at least one of each of the various excerpts represented. Have students share and compare their scholar’s argument with the others in the group.
    4. Exit ticket: In your opinion, was the Neolithic Revolution and the rise of civilization a mostly positive or negative event in human history? Use specific evidence to support your claim.