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Happenings in Middle School History

Skill building is central to the middle school history curriculum, but so is having fun! Earlier this fall, the sixth-grade historians in Jess Kimball-Veeder’s classes assumed the role of CSI agents as they investigated the mystery of Ötzi, a Neolithic Age man whose mummified body was discovered trapped in the icy landscape of the Alps by hikers in 1991. To set the scene for the investigation, drama teacher Don Mays created a highly engaging and humorous video for the students.

Once tasked with their mission, the students worked in teams to sift through evidence on everything ranging from what Ötzi’s last meal was, to what he was found wearing and carrying, to how many tattoos he had, to the number of cavities he suffered in his lifetime. Using that evidence, students built a case for how this 5,300-year-old man had died. In doing so, the students practiced the skills of collaborative reasoning, close reading, critical thinking, and analytical writing.

The various CSI teams came back with different conclusions, which reinforced the understanding that information can be, and often is, interpreted in multiple ways. Ultimately, the true learning occurred while the students were immersed in the experience; the final case reports were merely catalysts for further discussion and reflection.

Thank you to Jess Kimball-Veeder for sharing the happenings in her classes with us for this blog post!