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Putting Time In Perspective

Warming Up

Try this at the start of each class period where you plan to use the main activity. It should take no more than 5-10 minutes, and will get your students thinking together about dates and events.

  1. Choose one of the events from the list you created.
  2. Write it on the board in such a way that nothing identifies when it took place. (Example: Asteroid strikes earth leading to the dinosaur extinction.)
  3. Explain to the group that you are going to help them identify the date for this event.  

    The rules are that you will call on one student at a time.  (Volunteers or not; your choice.)  Based on what s/he knows or has already heard, the chosen student is to give the best date s/he can determine for the event.  (Depending on the event, you might want to specify that answers should be a specific year, or the number of years ago the event took place.)  You should keep a written list of the answers (and maybe who gave them).

    For the second and subsequent students, announce only that the date is either closer to or farther from the actual date; or that it is a repeat of one given earlier.  Proceed this way until the correct date is identified. 

    If you like, you can record points for each answer; and use them later in any way you choose.  I give 1 point for each answer that gets us closer to or identifies the actual date; -1 for each that is farther away from it; and -2 for each that repeats an earlier contribution.  The latter helps to encourage attentiveness.
  4. Select one student and ask him/her to begin by stating when s/he thinks this event occurred. 
  5. Proceed to call on students until the actual date is identified.
  6. On a sheet of paper they are to keep, have students note down the event and its actual date.  Explain that they will need this sheet for future activities related to these events.
  7. Go on to the main activity.

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original web posting: Wednesday, September 9, 1998
last modified: Tuesday, March 16, 2004