Grade 8
My Class to Yours

Activities

Prometheus v. Zeus
Written by Andrew Lindsay
Grade 8 Teacher
South Middle School
Romulus, Michigan USA
E-mail: ALindsay@edmail.com

Goal: I want to introduce the students to the many gods of the Greek pantheon and to the nature the relationship between the Greek gods and mortals. The basic concept boils down to a civil suit between Zeus and Prometheus. Zeus is suing Prometheus for stealing fire and Prometheus is counter-suing Zeus on the basis of cruel and unusual punishment.

Objective: The students will be able to explain the roles of four or five Greek gods and a couple of Greek heroes. The students will also be able to apply concepts read in a Greek myth to our own judicial system.

Procedures:

Day One:

  1. Class should read "Hercules and Prometheus" from Adventures of the Greek Heroes.
  2. After making sure that the students are aware of the central issue of the theft of fire, the students should be given roles to perform in a mock trial.
  3. The roles to assign are judge, lawyer, witness, and jury.
    • The witnesses are characters from the myth read in class.
    • The lawyers are students who will try to prove whether Prometheus is guilty of stealing or whether he was acting in the common good.
    • The judge must run the trial by controlling the length of testimonies, inappropriate behavior, and other things a judge would have to perform in a courtroom.
    • The jury must deliberate to determine Prometheus' guilt or innocence.
  4. The students begin preparing for trial.
    • The witnesses must prepare a testimony. The gods support Zeus. The humans support Prometheus. They can be as long or short as the teacher requires.
    • The lawyers must begin deciding how to prove Prometheus guilty or innocent. This is a difficult position. The lawyers must write a opening statement, come up with cross-examining questions (very difficult), and write a closing statement after all the testimony has been given.
    • The judge must become familiar with the myth and courtroom procedures. I have allowed the judge to hold students "in contempt" and come up with a suitable consequence (with my approval). The judge should prepare by reading about the US judicial system.
    • The jury members must also be familiar with the story. They should prepare by reading about the US judicial system as well.

Day Two: Court

Court goes into session. Generally, I follow this proceedings format. I adjust as necessary to changing situations.

  1. Opening statement for prosecution
  2. Prosecution witness testimony
  3. Cross-examination by defense lawyer
  4. Repeat steps 1-3 for all prosecution witnesses
  5. Opening statement for defense
  6. Defense witness testimony
  7. Cross-examination by prosecution lawyer
  8. Repeat steps 5-7 for all defense witnesses
  9. Closing statement for prosecution
  10. Closing statement for defense
  11. Jury deliberation

Day Three

  1. Finish any courtroom action that needs to be finished.
  2. Begin working on evaluations

Evaluations:

The students will be evaluated in a number of ways. Each role should be evaluated differently.

  1. The lawyers should be evaluated on the basis of their statements and their cross-examination questions.
  2. Witnesses should be evaluated on the basis of their testimonies
  3. Jurors should be evaluated on the basis of an analysis of the verdict.
  4. The judge should be evaluated on the basis of an analysis of the verdict as well.

Any of the proceedings are adaptable for many different classrooms. You can add bailiffs, court recorders, and other courtroom attractions…


Middle School Socratic Seminar On: The Declaration of Independence
Written by Joan Horvath
Mentor Teacher
Standley Junior High School
San Diego, California USA
E-mail:JHorv14395@aol.com

Directions for Reading and Discussing a Primary Document

  • Students all receive a copy of the transcript of The Declaration of Independence.
  • Arrange students in a circle or horseshoe. Read-Around: each student reads a line to the punctuation mark.
  • Each student reflects about one question about the document. He/she writes down the question on the small sheet of paper in preparation for a proactive discussion.

Student Sheet for Socratic Seminar: Declaration of Independence

  • Three volunteers are selected to sit outside the group to keep score on how many times each student answers. The Scoring Session report their findings at the debriefing session. Three additional volunteers are the Cheering Section. they write down compliments to specific students on specific topics. They confer at the end of the session, appoint a spokesperson who reads the compliments at the debriefing.

The Socratic Seminar

  • The teacher is the facilitator who may start the first question. The students must be reminded that Socrates while teaching always answered a question from his students with a question. The students must follow suit. For example, the teacher says: "What does it mean to dissolve the political bands?" A student might ask: "Does it mean the colonies wish to dissolve the political bands which tie the colonies to England?"
  • Allow the discussion to continue for 15-20 minutes. If questions come up which need more research, the teacher should write them down to clarify in the debriefing session.

Debriefing Session

  • Allow the student reporter in the cheering session to compile a list of all the compliments.Have student report the compliments.
  • Allow the score group to confer and come up with the top three contributors. Report thesefindings.
  • Choose a student to evaluate the session. Using a rubric 0 (low) to 5 (high), have the student rate the session. Ask: Why did you rate it as such?

Extensions

  • Visit the Declaration of Independence Web site
    This National Archives site has the transcription of the Declaration of Independence. The text is printed on three pages and the fourth page has the readable 56 signatures. The printed pages are perfect for students to highlight as well as write questions or notes inthe margins.
    http://www.archives.gov/national-archives-experience/charters/treasure/index.html
  • Monticello Web site
    This site is dedicated to information about Monticello—Jefferson's home. After clicking on the site, go to A Day in the Life where you can learn what it was like to be Thomas Jefferson.
    http://www.monticello.org/
  • Lewis & Clark @ nationalgeographic.com
    Go to National Geographic's Lewis and Clark's site. Jefferson's administration authorized the travel for Lewis and Clark.
    http://www.nationalgeographic.com/features/97/west/

Debates
Written by Kathleen Bauer
Saint Bernadine
West Hills, California USA

Activity: Choose two sides. Let one side be colonists and the other the British. Debate about which side is better, like about all the taxes passed and all that other stuff.


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