Before beginning the unit give each student the Anticipation Guide based on the standards. Students are given several statements to which they must agree or disagree and give reasons for their opinions. This initial writing is a base line assessment for previous knowledge. After the study give the same guide with the opportunity for students to change their minds and again give evidence for their opinions.
Activate students’ prior background knowledge. The underlying premise is to engage students in thinking about what they already know about a subject and sharing their ideas with others. This can be accomplished using numerous strategies such as a basic KWL chart or a Word Wall.
Present letter from the pharaoh as the introduction to the problem. If you have access to the PBS video Pyramid Hosted by David Macaulay, play the speech given by Kufu to his people who are about to construct his pyramid. This is very effective to set the mood. I used both the letter and the video to begin our study. The remainder of the video can be used as a resource for information as well as a model of a presentation to the pharaoh. The video is a combination of animation and actual live footage.
To help reinforce the task, give students the opportunity to work as a group to record their knowledge of the task. Give each construction group a large sheet of butcher paper and felt pens. Ask them to make a visual representation of what information they have so far about their job. They should be given 5 minutes of silent time. The instruction of nonverbal communication is very important to this piece. Give them another 5 minutes to relate verbally to each other and add more clarification to their poster. Continue by asking each group to share their ideas providing more clarification for students as to the beginning information they have to work with. This strategy works well to reinforce ideas for the visual spatial learners as well as help strengthen the skills for those are either inhibited or lacking in visual spatial abilities.
I found it extremely useful to meet with the expert groups right away to discuss their progress. We brain stormed a list of possible questions they needed to research in order to complete their task. This helped them focus on the information they need.. Periodic meetings with both the expert and construction groups to monitor progress work well to keep students share information and organize their presentations.
One of the keys to making this unit successful is availability of numerous resources. If internet access is not available consider printing copies of material to have available for students. There are many good books available on Ancient Egypt and I would suggest having as many as possible for students use.
For the final presentations arrange for someone to act as the pharaoh. Each construction group will make a list of characteristics for their pharaoh so the actor knows who and what they like. Prompt your pharaoh to ask questions of the crew further assess their understanding of the material and ability to think on their feet.