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Unit 3: Mesopotamia

My Desired Results
Standards/Goals Supporting/Repeating Standards
6.H.1 Use historical thinking to understand the Cite specific textual evidence to support
emergence, expansion and decline of analysis of primary and secondary sources.
civilizations, societies and regions over time.
6.H.2 Understand the political, economic and/ Determine the central ideas or information of
or social significance of historical events, a primary or secondary source; provide an
issues, individuals and cultural groups. accurate summary of the source distinct from
6.G.1 Understand geographic factors that prior knowledge or opinions.
influenced the emergence, expansion and
decline of civilizations, societies and regions
over time The other standards for this unit are going to
6.C.1 Explain how the behaviors and be repeated in later units throughout the year.
practices of individuals and groups influenced
societies, civilizations and regions.

The goals of the Mesopotamia unit are for
students to be able to master these standards
on Mesopotamia content. Students will be
seeing these standards throughout the school
year with other civilizations that we learn
about, but with Mesopotamia being the first
civilization we discuss, it is very important that
they are understanding the basics of these
standards before moving on to Egypt.

Understandings: Essential Questions
Students will understand that… 1. How did geographical features
influence the develop of ancient
• The world’s first societies began along
rivers Mesopotamia?
• Invasions from different empires 2. How did agricultural and technological
changed Mesopotamia’s culture over innovations contribute to growth in
time.
cities and agriculture in Mesopotamia?
• Agricultural and technological
innovations positively impacted the 3. How did religious and cultural
development of Mesopotamia. expressions reflect the values of
• Religious and cultural values impacted ancient Mesopotamians?
the lives of Mesopotamians.
4. How did invasions in Mesopotamia
change their culture over time?
5. Were Hammurabi’s Codes just
Students will know that… Students will be able to…
Skills • Explain how rivers and new farming
• Analyze primary and secondary
techniques led to the growth of cities.
sources
• Use textual evidence to support an • Explain how technological advances
answer and inventions changed Sumerian
Concepts lives.
• Civilization • Explain how culture developed in
• Geography
• Culture Sumer.
• Conflict • Explain the invasions of Mesopotamia
• Invasion and how they changed the region’s
• Law and order
culture over time.
• Analyze primary and secondary
sources to determine if Hammurabi’s
Code was just

Assessment/Evidence

Explain any performance tasks you will use (major projects and core task, i.e., common
assessments):

Hammurabi’s Code DBQ- Students will complete a Document-Based-Question task over the
course of three days to answer the essential question: “Were Hammurabi’s Codes just?”
Students will analyze primary and secondary sources, answer guiding questions, and use
evidence from the documents to complete a writing piece that answers the essential question.
For every unit, it is important to have a performance task that goes beyond measuring
students basic understanding, but rather forces them to use their critical thinking skills. In
research done by Teach For America, the organization highlights that “Performance tasks are
designed to be similar to the challenges that adults face every day, requiring students to use
higher-order thinking skills, such as judging, innovating, and creating rather than reciting,
responding, or listing” (Teach For America, 2011). By challenging my students to make a moral
judgement and assess a historical code, they are pushed to critically think and utilize skillsets
that are preparing them for high school and post-secondary experiences.
Explain other assessment evidence you will use: (quizzes, tests, prompts, work
samples and observations):

Warm Ups- Each day, student warm ups will show me if students are able to access
information they have already learned in relation to the new lesson for that day. This usually
comprises of review questions that call on important themes and concepts from previous
lessons. These are used as tools that bring students attention to the new lesson for the day,
while simultaneously reviewing past concepts.

Exit Tickets- At the end of class each day, students have an exit ticket. It is comprised of a
few multiple choice questions that will look similar to items they will see on their end-of-year
Social Studies exam. This not only provides them with practice test questions for exams, but it
is also a check for understanding of the most important information from that lesson. It is
important when developing a unit plan to determine common misunderstandings students may
have ahead of time (Teach For America, 2011). Warm ups and exit tickets can show me where
students are struggling and moments that might call for re-teaching throughout the unit plan.

Summative Test- For the closing assessment, students will take a summative test on the
Mesopotamia unit. Tests can serve as reliable means of measuring achievement (Teach For
America, 2011) and tracking student progress towards mastery of the Social Studies
standards and concepts. The test uses questions that measure student mastery of objectives.
Most questions come from SchoolNet, which is a district resource that provides question
aligned to the North Carolina Social Studies standards.

Days 2-5 Independent Practice- These activities are performed by students for skill-building
and practice with the necessary content. This practice usually comes prior to their exit tickets
as an opportunity for students to prepare for the closing exit ticket by working with the content
from the lesson.
How do these assessments measure your students’ progress toward your classes’ big
goal(s)?

My hope for my students is that they develop the skills necessary to critically defend
themselves when discussing important social studies content. In addition to demonstrating
mastery on their NC Final Exam at the end-of-the-year, I want my students to craft important
skills that will make them successful in high school and adulthood. To do this, I have provided
summative assessments for each unit that will look very similar to what they should expect to
see on their final exam and in a high school classroom. The summative assessment will show
me if students are mastering the unit goals and standards through a diverse array of multiple
choice questions that measure their understanding of content, their ability to analyze primary
source documents, and their interpretation of important visuals. Other informal assessments/
independent work in class demonstrate this as well, especially for some students who struggle
with multiple choice tests or have test anxiety.

The Document Based Question (DBQ) project on Hammurabi’s Code is a way for my students
to demonstrate that they are able to draw conclusions about a topic, create an argument, and
defend that argument using evidence from texts. This is an important skill I believe my
students should have, not only in their academics, but for their future aspirations. This
assignment asks students to “perform tasks in a real-world-like context” that will prepare them
to advocate for themselves down the road (Teach For America, 2011).
Learning Plan
Learning Plan (Activities and Resources)
Day 1: Unit Organizer Day/ Preview Day
6.H.1, 6.H.2, 6.G.1, 6.C.1

I can organize the Mesopotamia Unit and preview important vocabulary and main ideas.
Exit Ticket: Write down three things that you learned about Mesopotamia today.

Day 2:
6.G.1.1, 6.G.1.4

I can explain how rivers and new farming techniques led to the growth of cities.

Exit Ticket:
1. Which feature of geography was the most important in the development of early river
valley civilizations and why?
2. Which is the best explanation for why Mesopotamians built canals?
3. High crop yields in ancient Mesopotamia, resulting in a surplus of food, contributed most
directly to the development of what?
Exemplar Exit Ticket:
1. Rivers were the most important geographic feature in the development of early river
valley civilizations because of the fertile soil they provided which allowed for agriculture.
2. Mesopotamians built canals because they needed a way to control the river’s flow to
prevent flooding and increase farming.
3. Having a surplus of food contributed to a division of labor and specialized skills.

Academic Vocabulary:
Fertile Crescent, silt, civilization, irrigation, canals, surplus, division of labor

Warm Up: Students will practice map skills by viewing a map of Mesopotamia from their
textbook and answer the two questions that go along with it in their notebooks. This will
introduce the Mesopotamia lesson on geography and practice their reading map skills they
learned from the first unit of the school year.

Independent Practice: Students will be given a word bank with the vocabulary words for the day.
Students will have to use all of the words to describe how Mesopotamia came to have cities.
Students should be able to explain how rivers led to the growth of this civilization in this practice.

Homework: Students will take the Lesson 1 worksheet from their textbook workbooks home with
them. It is a reading comprehension sheet that covers the main ideas of what was taught in
class about Mesopotamian geography.

Day 3:
6.H.2.3

I can explain how technological advances and innovations changed Sumerian lives.

Exit Ticket:
1. What is the name of the Sumerian writing system?
2. How did the metal plow help to increase Mesopotamian trade with other civilizations?
3. How did calendars contribute to growth in cities and agriculture in ancient Mesopotamia?
4. Which technological innovation did the Sumerians use for transportation, art and
agriculture?
Exemplar Exit Ticket:
1. Cuneiform
2. Farmers could plant faster, helping them plant larger areas and grow extra grain as a
surplus for traders to sell
3. They helped farmers plan their crops to avoid floods, which allowed them to grow more
food and to feed more people in the cities.
4. The wheel

Academic Vocabulary:
Cuneiform, wheel, plow, innovation, technology

Warm Up: Socrative final exam review questions about previous unit and what they have
already learned about Mesopotamia (Paleolithic and Neolithic Eras, and Mesopotamian
geography).

Independent Practice: Students will be given the top three innovations from the Sumerians: the
wheel, cuneiform, and the plow. They will create a 2-sided explanation of how these innovations
improved life for the Sumerians vs. how these innovations are used currently and still benefit
people today.

Day 4:
6.C.1.1, 6.C.1.2

I can explain how culture developed in Sumer.

Exit Ticket:
1. What about Mesopotamian culture tells us that they were polytheistic?
2. Ziggurats were placed in the center of all the cities in Sumer. This demonstrates the
importance of which feature of civilization in the daily lives of Sumerians?
3. What are two things that the Epic of Gilgamesh tells us about the cultural values of
Mesopotamians?
Exemplar Exit Ticket:
1. Mesopotamians believed in many gods. They had a ziggurat in each city-state dedicated
to a different god or goddess.
2. Ziggurats being built in the center of Mesopotamian city-states tells us that religion was
of great importance to the daily lives of Sumerians.
3. The Epic of Gilgamesh tells us about the importance of religion in the daily lives of
Mesopotamians, the importance of gods and their human-like characteristics, the value
of the strength of their kings, etc.
Academic Vocabulary:
Polytheism, Ziggurat, epic, Gilgamesh, culture, hierarchy

Warm Up: Socrative final exam review questions about previous unit and what they have
already learned about Mesopotamia (Paleolithic and Neolithic Eras, and Mesopotamian
geography, Mesopotamian innovations).

Independent Practice: Students will create a modern day version of the Epic of Gilgamesh that
represents our own cultural values.
Homework: Lesson 2 (from the textbook workbook)- This is a reading comprehension that
covers the main ideas from the last two lessons on the innovations and culture of the Sumerians
in Mesopotamia.

Day 5:
6.H.2.4

I can explain the invasions of Mesopotamia and how they changed the region’s culture over
time.

Exit Ticket:
1. List the order of the peoples who ruled Mesopotamia.
2. What is the impact the Babylonians had on Mesopotamia after they conquered the land?
3. In what ways did the Assyrians and Chaldeans change Mesopotamian culture?

Exemplar Exit Ticket:
1. After the Sumerians, the Babylonians took over, then the Hittites, Kassites, Assyrians,
and Chaldeans.
2. Hammurabi created Hammurabi’s Law Codes, which were written down for the
Mesopotamians to see.
3. Assyrian weaponry and military achievements impacted Mesopotamian military. They
also created the library at Nineveh. The Chaldeans, under Nebuchadnezzer, rebuilt
many of the city temples and ziggurats, and created the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

Academic Vocabulary:
Hammurabi, monarch, Hammurabi’s Code, Babylonians, chariot, Assyrians, Chaldeans,
Nebuchadnezzar

Warm Up: Students will practice their map reading skills from the first unit to analyze a map in
their textbook showing Mesopotamian invasions by different conquering groups. They will
answer the two questions on the map page in their notebooks. This will introduce the lesson for
the day and have them practice their map reading skills.

Independent Practice: Students will create a bracket (like basketball brackets) for the four main
Empires that ruled over Mesopotamia. They will have to advance the empires based on which
ones they believe would have been able to conquer the other ones. They will provide one
reason for why that empire would advance, and one reason why the other empire would lose for
each round.

Homework: Lesson 3 (from textbook workbook) that covers the Mesopotamian Empires and
invasions. It is a reading comprehension that covers the same material they learned in class.

Day 6: Hammurabi’s Code DBQ Introduction Day
6.H.1.3

I can determine if Hammurabi’s Codes were just by analyzing primary and secondary sources.

Exit Ticket and Warm Up: The exit ticket questions for days 6-8 are old test questions about
Mesopotamia that review everything they learned from the first five days of the unit. Students do
not have an exit ticket based on the DBQ until the last day of the DBQ.

Academic Vocabulary:
Hammurabi, Hammurabi’s Code, Babylon
Hammurabi’s Code: Was it just? Document Based Question
Hook: What is justice?
Students view two different cases and discuss questions that are to determine if the cases were
handled fairly.

Background Information: Students complete a reading comprehension that gives background
information about Hammurabi and the Babylon empire. Students have to type in their answers
to the questions and provide information for the major vocabulary they will need to know for the
documents.

Day 7: Hammurabi’s Code DBQ Continued
6.H.1.2

I can determine if Hammurabi’s Code was just by analyzing primary and secondary sources.

Exit Ticket and Warm Ups: Both exit tickets and warm ups for days 6-8 are old test questions
that review what students learned about Mesopotamia during the first five days of the unit.

Hammurabi’s Code: Was it just? Document Based Question
Documents A, B and C
The teacher guides students through document A and assists with document B. Students are
working with their groups for document C.

Students answer guiding questions for each of the documents to ensure understanding of the
primary and secondary sources. With each document, students have to relate it back to the big
question: Was Hammurabi’s Code just based on the information provided by this document?

Day 8: Hammurabi’s Code DBQ Continued
6.H.1.2

I can determine if Hammurabi’s Code was just by analyzing primary and secondary sources.

Exit Ticket and Warm Ups: Both exit tickets and warm ups for days 6-8 are old test questions
that review what students learned about Mesopotamia during the first five days of the unit.

Hammurabi’s Code: Was it just? Document Based Question
Documents D and E
Students are expected to work on documents D and E on their own after being guided through
the DBQ yesterday with so much assistance. This is still only the second DBQ of the school
year, so if it looks like many students still need guidance, then they can continue to work in
groups.

Students answer guiding questions for each of the documents to ensure understanding of the
primary and secondary sources. With each document, students have to relate it back to the big
question: Was Hammurabi’s Code just based on the information provided by this document?

After completing the documents, students complete a guided writing piece to answer the
essential question: Was Hammurabi’s Code just? Students have to provide evidence from the
documents to support their answer and reasoning.
Day 9: Review Day
6.H.1, 6.H.2, 6.C.1, 6.G.1

I can review all that I have learned about Mesopotamia to prepare for the Mesopotamia test
tomorrow.

Exit Ticket:
1. What other questions do you still have about Mesopotamia before the test tomorrow? If
you do not have any, what is one thing that you enjoyed most in this unit?

Review Activities:
1. Students will play Table Races from the PEAK Learning Systems (Rogers, 2013). This is a
review game which provides students with a study guide and support stations as they complete
the game.
2. Students will play Quizizz. This is an online review game, similar to Kahoot, but students can
play at their own pace and review anything that they might have gotten wrong. I have students
play two rounds of the game so that they are encouraged to correct any mistakes they made the
first time.

Day 10: Test Day and Reflection
6.H.1, 6.H.2, 6.G.1, 6.C.1

I can receive an 85% or higher on the Mesopotamia test to demonstrate mastery of this unit.

Exit Ticket: Students will fill in their data tracker with their test score they received for this test.
They must answer reflection questions on the tracker about the unit and their academic
behaviors.