Project Authors

Deanna Carr, MLS Candidate
Katrina Oskoui, MLS Candidate
College of Information Studies, University of Maryland


In sixth grade Social Studies, students typically learn how permanent settlements led to the specialization of labor and the development of organizational systems (government), belief systems (philosophy and religion), cultural traditions, and achievements in the arts, sciences, and technology. Social Studies provides students with historical knowledge of events, a better grasp of the passage of time and the passing on of major cultural themes, the nature of change, and the commonality that humans share.

In this unit, students will take a hands-on, experiential approach to learning about Ancient Greece that fits within the overall Social Studies curriculum. Students will learn and employ tools for understanding social science fundamentals such as mapping, geography, and research. The overall purpose of sixth grade Social Studies is to acquaint the student with a range of physical and social environments and to develop critical thinking skills necessary to deal effectively with personal, social, and political responsibilities. Students learn that history is a process where facts have consequences and themes can be identified and traced over time. At the age of eleven to twelve years, students are developing the ability to think analytically, evaluate sources, and engage in research. This developmental step allows students to delve deeply into history and understand the dynamic forces of the ancient Greek civilization that still influences our civilization.

Students will have eight class periods for their group projects, 5 class periods for their individual projects, and six periods for the “HiStory” projects in this multidisciplinary unit. While the main focus of this unit is on Social Studies, Social Studies encompasses the humanities and allows for creative and collaborative cross-disciplinary activities. The students will use their growing reading and writing skills to further explore Ancient Greece through Art, English, Social Studies, and Physical Education with the aid of the School Library Media services.

This intensive three-week unit encompasses several aspects of early Greek life, such as mythology, the Greek alphabet, origins of democracy, classic Greek architectural design, aspects of daily life, the geography, economics, technology, and the Olympic games. The unit will end with a Greek festival to include displays of student projects, character impersonations, and a Greek feast.

In this interdisciplinary unit, which addresses learning goals in Social Studies, English, Art, Physical Education, and School Library Media, students will (1) work in small groups to collaboratively research a topic, and create a presentation in Glogster or PowerPoint, a notes outline, and a bibliography on their assigned group topic; (2) work individually to produce a Fakebook profile of their chosen god/goddess/hero/famous figure; (3) create and illustrate their own myth, (4) participate in a mock Greek Olympics; and (5) create Greek style art. The School Library Media Center will aid students in collecting research materials and learning about the information ethics involved in forming a simple bibliography, copying images and remixing other people’s creative work, and giving credit where credit is due as they collect sources for their Fakebook and Glogster/PowerPoint projects.

The Topic and Standards

This curricular unit is designed for sixth graders studying English, Social Studies, P.E., Art, and Library Media Studies in a collaborative project-based environment. The students will use higher order thinking skills and demonstrate critical thinking and innovation in their assignments throughout this unit as they create, plan, produce, invent, and evaluate their own and their peers’ projects in these lessons. Students should demonstrate an understanding of how the ancient Greek civilization influences the modern world around them. They should follow a process to find information within a variety of sources, organize and interpret data to create new knowledge, and share their findings and conclusions.

The lessons in this unit map to the New Maryland Common Core State Curriculum recently adopted in the state of Maryland. **** (Note: Maryland’s standards are under development and will gradually convert to Common Core over the course of 2011-2013, according to the Maryland State Department of Education.)

English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects 6-12

Reading Standards for Informational Text, Grade 6

Key Ideas and Details

1. Cite textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
2. Determine a theme or central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details. Provide a summary of the text distinct from personal
opinions or judgements.

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

7. Integrate information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words to develop a coherent understanding of
a topic or issue.

Writing Standards, Grade 6

Text Types and Purposes
3. Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, relevant descriptive details, and well-structured event
a. Engage and orient the reader by establishing a context and introducing a narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that
unfolds naturally and logically.
b. Use narrative techniques, such as dialogue, pacing, and description, to develop experiences, events, and/or characters.
c. Use a variety of transition words, phrases, and clauses to convey sequence and signal shifts from one time frame or setting to another.
d. Use precise words and phrases, relevant descriptive details, and sensory language to convey experiences and events.
e. Provide a conclusion that follows from the narrated experiences or events.

Production and Distribution of Writing

6. Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others.

Speaking and Listening Standards, Grade 6

Comprehension and Collaboration

2. Interpret information presented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and explain how it contributes to a topic, text, or
issue under study.

Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas

4. Present claims and findings, sequencing ideas logically and using pertinent descriptions, facts, and details to accentuate main ideas or themes; use
appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation.
5. Include multimedia components (e.g., graphics, images, music, sound) and visual displays in presentations to clarify information.

The lessons in this unit also map to the AASL Standards for the 21st Century Learner.

Learning Outcomes and Library Media Studies Standards
Source: Standards for the 21st-Century Learner (American Association of School Librarians)

This unit also maps to the 2007 AASL standards. As they research multiple aspects of Ancient Greece to produce “Fakebook” profiles of gods/goddesses/heroes, Glog presentations of their research topics, games and quizzes about the Greek alphabet, culture and Olympics, students will learn to use licensed images, and copyrighted print and digital resources with appropriate citation. They will make sense of the resources in the Media Center with divergent and convergent thinking to draw conclusions about the answers to the research questions. Students will demonstrate proficient use of web technology and practice teamwork skills by productively collaborating to create their assigned projects.

AASL Standards:

1.1.3 Develop and refine a range of questions to frame the search for new understanding.
1.1.4 Find, evaluate and select appropriate sources to answer questions.
1.1.6 Read, view, and listen for information presented in any format (e.g., textual, visual, media, digital) in order to make inferences and gather meaning.
1.1.9 Collaborate with others to broaden and deepen understanding.
1.2.5 Demonstrate adaptability by changing the inquiry focus, questions, resources or strategies when necessary to achieve success.
1.3.4 Contribute to the exchange of ideas within the learning community.
2.1.3 Use strategies to draw conclusions from information and apply knowledge to curricular areas, real-world situations and further investigations.
2.1.5 Collaborate with others to exchange ideas, develop new understandings, make decisions, and solve problems.
2.1.6 Use the writing process, media and visual literacy, and technology skills to create products that express new understandings.
2.2.3 Employ a critical stance in drawing conclusions by demonstrating that the pattern of evidence leads to a decision or conclusion.
3.1.1 Conclude an inquiry-based research process by sharing new understandings and reflecting on the learning.
3.1.2 Participate and collaborate as members of a social and intellectual network of learners.
3.1.3 Use writing and speaking skills to communicate new understandings effectively.
3.1.4 Use technology and other information tools to organize and display knowledge and understanding in ways that others can view, use, and assess.
3.1.6 Use information and technology ethically and responsibly.
3.2.2 Show social responsibilities by participating actively with others in learning situations and by contributing questions and ideas during group discussions.
4.1.3 Respond to literature and creative expressions of ideas in various formats and genres.
4.1.7 Use social networks and information tools to gather and share information.
4.1.8 Use creative and artistic formats to express personal learning.
4.4.1 Identify own areas of interest.
4.4.3 Recognize how to focus efforts in personal learning.
4.4.4 Interpret new information based on cultural and social context.

The Setting and Context

Shamrock Middle School, located in a suburban Maryland community in the greater Washington, DC area, is a Catholic school that serves around 290 students in grades six through eight. There are approximately 32 students per class, with 3 classes per year. The population is somewhat racially and ethnically diverse: 14% African American, 16% Asian/Pacific Islander, 61% White, and 9% Hispanic. Additionally, 4% of the population is limited English proficient, 7% receive financial aid. The children are high achievers and the school is well equipped. By the sixth grade, all of the students should have had at least two to three years of experience using online resources and have created their own Powerpoint presentations. The school emphasizes multidisciplinary and interdepartmental curriculum development.

The goal of this project is to gain in-depth knowledge about the ancient civilization of Greece. This is an ambitious new unit of study. In the past, the sixth grade students have conducted studies of Ancient China and Mesopotamia. This will be the first year that the students will conduct a three-week unit on the study of multiple aspects of Ancient Greece with a culminating assembly for their parents. At horizontal team meetings in the middle school, the library media specialist has consulted with teachers from Social Studies, English, P.E., and Art to explore ways to collaborate across disciplines in more subject studies, in keeping with the school's emphasis on multidisciplinary and interdepartmental curriculum design. This year, while creating this new interdisciplinary lesson plan, the library media specialist and Social Studies teachers have also integrated students’ use of more online technology into the unit. The library media specialist and the subject teachers will use Raven M. Wallace's positive affordances, such as making boundaries and establising authority to direct students to certain websites that they know to be reputable. They will add more time to incorporate the Internet into planning time and in class technology use time.

The cohesion of these multidisciplinary lessons is easy to facilitate. First, the P.E. teachers plan to introduce Track & Field making it easy to integrate the Greek Olympics. The Art teachers, likewise, have a unique opportunity to discuss and create Greek art and architecture and study the Greek alphabet. The English classes also begin a Greek literature unit in sixth grade making it easy to include classic mythology along with the works of Homer.

In addition to helping design the assignments and providing a list of supplemental reading and useful sources, the media specialist will co-teach with subject specialists, focusing on integrating multimedia literacy and research skills with the content. The subject teachers can schedule media center time as needed.

Shamrock Middle School has block scheduling with four 90 minutes per class periods per day. Here is a schedule example for one of the three sixth grade classes.

Social Studies
Social Studies
Social Studies

Pre-Testing of Technology to be Accessed

The library media specialist will test the technology tools that the students will use, and have any needed software downloaded or websites un-blocked by the IT department, and will teach the subject teachers how to use the tools in advance, as not all teachers at Shamrock Middle School are comfortable using new technology. The library media specialist should be familiar with Raven M. Wallace's assertion that it is important to know the Internet resource himself or herself and model his or her thinking about its use. A few of the teachers at Shamrock Middle School fall into Larry Cuban's category of non-users of computers. The library media specialist is helping these teachers learn to use technology in more student-centered ways and avoid using technology to fit their familiar lecture-centered practices.

Shamrock Middle School has 8 computers in the media center with 21 additional computer stations in the adjacent computer lab. Students will have to share computers and time will be split between the library and computer lab in order to complete research. The media center and computer lab are open before and after school for students to use. Because of the collaborative nature of the assignment and the possibility of limited computer access, homework during this unit will consist mostly of work on these projects. Moreover, additional work time may take place in the classroom using classroom computers or mobile laptops or in the library media center during flexible periods.

Each classroom houses 3 computers. Teachers also have access to a rolling laptop cart with 16 laptops. The cart can be wheeled to the classrooms where students can work in pairs or take turns.

Technology Preparation/Troubleshooting

Well in advance of the beginning of this unit, the library media specialist will review all of the possible internet resources, and request that the IT department block any controversial sites and allowing access to those that might be used in the unit – such as BrainPop, Fakebook, Farcebook, Glogster, Fodey, Picaboo, Inspiration, Creative Commons, TeacherTube, and Sporcle – and download any and all necessary software, such as Farcebook or PowerPoint (if not already on computer), and double check to be sure that the software and websites function on all the computers that students and teachers will be using. The media specialist will download the free Picaboo application and will test the “Grab” feature used with Glogster on the school’s computers first to make sure they do not encounter a problem using Glogster. With the help of the IT department to set up accounts, the library media specialist will activate the most secure settings, use a single account or moderate the online class sites, and assign nicknames and passwords to all of the students for each publicly accessible website or software they will use to ensure their privacy and safety.

Shamrock serves a majority conservative, Catholic community. Some of the Shamrock parents have significant concerns about internet safety. Many of the Catholic parents may also have ethical concerns about the study of mythology and Greek Oracles. The library media specialist will work with school administration to send letters home to parents explaining the value of using online media and developing new media literacies and that their student will be sharing work in secure online settings. The library media specialist will assert that using the Internet increases verbal literacy adn digital fluency, as expressed by David Huffaker in his writings about online writing. Parents will be informed of the nicknames and passwords and other security settings to provide utmost privacy and security. Permission slips will accompany the letters. Families will have the option to choose an actual Greek figure instead a god/goddess/hero for their projects and presentations and will be able to request that the student’s work be kept offline. Letters and permission slips will be sent home with the student and emailed to the parents. If parents object to the use of computers, all research can be done with printed materials. If parents object to a figure/god/goddess/hero, a student may be assigned a further in-depth report on a topic such as government, art, sports, or other aspect of the Greek civilization. Likewise, for the “HiStory” project, the student may use him or herself as the protagonist of the story, pretending he or she was alive during the time period.

The library media specialist will schedule time with each of the subject teachers involved in the media aspects of the unit to train them during their individual planning periods on the use of the pertinent technologies. He/she will brief the teachers on the Web resources, the accounts and passwords, and the location of the graphic organizers and lesson plans. The graphic organizers will be created in Inspiration 9.0 and all lesson plans will be available to all teachers and the media specialist in one shared network drive or online-shared school account like Edline. All of the teachers at Shamrock know how to create hand in and hand out folders and save them on the shared drive. He/she will brief the teachers on quirks about the technologies infused into each unit. He/she will explain that if a student inserts a video into their Glog via Glogster at home, they will not be able to view it at school because YouTube is blocked. The library media specialist will have to convert it to Zamzar and then upload it. He/she will tell teachers to remind the students to save their work often. Sites like Glogster do not auto save and students can easily lose their work if not reminded. He/she will demonstrate to the teachers how to create a Glogster EDU teacher dashboard. The teachers will be shown how to upload an excel sheet of the roster under the teacher account with student nicknames and passwords and no actual student information.

In the event that a teacher who is leading a technology based assignment is absent, the library media specialist and the IT department will have the list of all user names and passwords so that a substitute will be able to gain access. The block schedule that Shamrock uses is flexible and has built-in options to make classes interchangeable by shifting the schedule due to its emphasis on a multidisciplinary/cross-disciplinary curriculum. Therefore if a teacher who is leading a lesson in this unit is absent, the schedule can shift so as not to lose momentum in the lessons.

Should there be a technology failure and one or more computers malfunction, the students will double up on computers, working together on group assignments or taking turns completing individual assignments. If a presentation will not show up on the Promethean board, the librarian will be able to pull up the presentation on individual computers. All of the assignments and lesson plans are accessible on the shared network and the students know how to open the hand-outs folders. Should the entire school server crash, the lesson calendar can be adjusted to use one of the research days and go to the media center for print resources.

Materials and Technology Tools

System requirements will be assessed, and web resources will be installed as mentioned above, including version of Adobe’s Flash player consistent with Shamrock School’s platform and browser default. Internet access, sound recording and audio playing capacities (including ear buds for our students with Asperger’s Syndrome) on all computers will be checked ahead of time. Students will be required to have a USB thumbdrive to backup their work, so that in the event of a computer or network crash, students will still retain their work. The media specialist will have several extra USB drives in the event that a student may forget his or hers on any given day.

Print resources on Ancient Greece will be pulled and made available on rolling book carts in the media center and can be reserved and wheeled to different classrooms.
Graphic Organizers, hand-outs and lesson plans will be updated and made available to all instructors in this unit via Inspiration 9.0 and on the shared network.
A message about the unit and the letters sent home to parents (and via email) will be posted on the school’s Intranet site as an added means of communication. The assignment due dates will be added to the calendar on the teacher’s classroom webpage.

There will also be several electronic resources used in this unit.
  • Glogster, an online teaching and learning tool, was chosen for Lesson One because it provides a comprehensive way for students to display knowledge on their topics as well as demonstrate their creativity. Students will create interactive online posters called "Glogs" that can have text, graphics, pictures, video and audio. The final Glogs can be embedded into the classroom websites. PowerPoint can be used for those students whose parents do not wish for students to use an online resource.
  • "Fakebook" was deemed an appropriate technology to use for Lesson Two's biography, so that students can conduct the same research required for a biography while using a new and engaging format to modernize the standard assignment. "Fakebook" is a teacher created web site that is a basic template of a Facebook page that teachers can use to have students to create imaginary profile pages for study purposes ( For Lesson Two, students will be able to develop their character’s profile information as well as add similar “famous” friends, posts, and comments.
  • BrainPop is an animated educational site for students. At the beginning of Lesson Two, the students can view one or more Social Studies movies about Ancient Greece. BrainPop videos are very engaging and content rich.
  • Sporcle is an online games and trivia website. The students will have a set time limit within which to name all of the items in the geography and social studies quiz about Ancient Greece.
  • Picaboo is a simple application that students will use to create a book of myths in Lesson Three. They will work collaboratively, choose a layout template, import their own text and digital files and choose a bookbinding. The media specialist will download the Picaboo application for free.
  • Fodey, "the newspaper clipping generator," will be the alternative to Picaboo in Lesson Three. The students can make fake front pages of newspapers with their own headlines and stories on They can then download their newspapers.

Implementation and Assignments

These lessons are based on a 15-day unit on Ancient Greece. While the lesson plans are focused within Social Studies, they are in collaboration with English, Art, and P.E. Class schedule and unit layout are listed below.

This 15-day unit on Ancient Greece is scheduled to take place in May, coinciding with the P.E. unit on Track and Field. Mainly intended for 6th grade Social Studies, this unit has Social Studies, English, Art, and P.E. working in collaboration with each other and with the media specialist to implement studies of Ancient Greek culture in modern ways, such as through the usage of social media and similar technologies.

The below listed scheduling in a sample based on track one. Students in tracks two and three will complete the same assignments within their class schedule.

Schedule :
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3

The Lessons

The lessons detailed below require close collaboration with the media specialist to facilitate their implementation.

Lesson One: Group Research Project. This lesson is schedule to launch the unit. Students will be divided into one of eight groups and assigned a topic to
research. Students will conduct their research and create a multimedia presentation to display for the class during their assigned class time. The Social Studies teacher will work in conjunction with the media specialist to help students with appropriate materials and media, such as Glogster, PowerPoint,
Creative Commons, etc.

Lesson Two: Greek Biography (Individual). This lesson is schedule to be assigned the second week of the unit. Like the group project students will be
instructed by the Social Studies teacher and media specialist on appropriate materials and media. Each student will create a social media page for his or
her chosen individual. Based upon their findings, the student may choose to display/demonstrate/arrange/portray…their social media page from the time
of ancient Greece or modernize the person.

Lesson Three: “HiStory” project. Based on their new knowledge of the characters and themes in Greek myths the students will write their own myths
about an ancient Greek character (god/goddess/hero/figure) for this biography project. The myth or story must take place in the time of Ancient Greece.
This project will be printed as a book to be auctioned off at the annual parent fundraiser held at the end of May.

The culmination of this unit will be a Greek Festival. The day before the festival, students will present their Fakebook page and a summary of their “HiStory” to their classmates. Fakebook pages will be printed out and displayed next to the student’s artwork at the festival. Glogs will be color-printed and displayed on the bulletin board. Parents will have the opportunity to then address students who will be impersonating their researched individual, both in dress and manner, to learn about the individual and see the student’s work.


Students will be co-assessed by subject teachers and the media specialist based upon carefully detailed rubrics (embedded in lesson plans) that are mapped to State Core Curriculum Standards and AASL standards. Students will be shown the rubrics at the beginning of each lesson so that they have a clear understanding of the expectations. In addition to assessing how well they meet the specific standards, students will be assessed based on their demonstrated mastery of collaboration, time management skills and problem solving skills throughout each activity. (Jessica Hammer and John Black note that such new assessment measures do not fit the current standards exactly, in their piece on Games and preparation for future learning.)

By the end of the unit, students should be able to answer and discuss the following questions:
1. What do you think are the more important contributions the ancient Greeks made to the world today?
2. What are some subjects that interested the Greek philosophers? What ideas did they develop?
3. Was everyone eligible for citizenship in ancient Greece? If not, who was excluded? Would ancient Greece still be considered a democracy today?
Why or why not?
4. Compare the myths of ancient Greece with other fables, folktales, or tall tales that you have studied. What are some common themes? How are Greek
myths different?
5. Compare the modern Olympics to the Olympics in ancient Greece.

Resources for Students and Teachers

Sample Quiz Link:
Online Game: Can you name the Greek alphabet? Game by Sporcle - A popular trivia game in which a player has 5 minutes to guess the English equivalents to the Greek letters.
Ancient Greece: The BBC offers information about Ancient Greece to younger children via this site. Cartoons and sections about Athens and the Olympics are included.
Ancient Greece: is a solid research site provided by the British Museum.
Ancient Greek World: Search this site for specific information about life in Ancient Greece. Courtesy of the University of Pennsylvania's Museum of Archaeology.
Coins of Ancient Greece
Daily Life in Ancient Greece: This site is good for learning about Ancient Greece’s daily life and it compares attitudes of people in different cities of Ancient Greece.
Dowling, Mike, "Mr. Dowling's Ancient Greece Page," available from; Internet; updated Monday, January 1, 2007.
Encyclopedia Mythica: Short encyclopedia entries on a wide range of mythical figures.
The Greeks: PBS’s site includes an interactive timeline.
History for Research a variety of aspects of Ancient Greece at this site from Portland State University.
The Immortals: This site gives information for each of the immortals, including mentions of every one in the Iliad and the Odyssey.
Myth Web: Detailed information on most of the Greek gods/goddesses with cute cartoons illustrations.
Mythology Link: This site has a gallery of sculptures and artwork for each god with extensive information.
Olympics: The Real Story of the Olympics This site tells the history of the Olympic games.
Olympics: The Ancient Olympics This site created by the Perseus Digital Library has sections on Olympia, sports, and renowned athletes.
Oracles: Study of the Oracles Portland State University offers this view into the use of Oracles in religious beliefs.
Peloponnesian War
Theater: Ancient Greek Theater Here, the BBC provides a cartoon tour of Ancient Greek theaters.