Origins of Writing

Students explore two sources to learn about the world’s first writing system, cuneiform. They learn about why the writing system was developed and how it developed over time.


Analyzing Written Artifacts

The things we write may last long after we are gone. That is certainly what happened with many cuneiform tablets. Students analyze cuneiform artifacts, and read historians’ descriptions of the artifacts, in order to draw conclusions about Mesopotamian civilization.


Written Laws

Students analyze the first-known written laws: The Code of Hammurabi. They consider how these laws may have helped or hurt individuals and society.


The Epic of Gilgamesh (Part 1 of 2)

Students explore the first part of a trilogy that tells the story of the Epic of Gilgamesh in a narrative picture book format. Students analyze character development of two characters in a shared reading format. To demonstrate their understanding, students create comic strips retelling this historic piece of literature.


The Epic of Gilgamesh (Part 2 of 2)

Students continue to explore the Epic of Gilgamesh by reading the second part of the trilogy of narrative picture books. Students continue to identify character traits, and support their character analysis with text evidence.


Small-Group Socratic Seminar

Students analyze two recordings (a video and an audio clip) in order to consider how the written word impacted individuals in contemporary case studies. Students then participate in a Socratic Seminar in which they draw on evidence from the sources, as well as from previous lessons, to explore compelling questions.


Making a Claim about the Power of the Written Word (Checkpoint Assessment)

Through this Essential Question, students have considered the different ways individuals and society are impacted by writing. This final lesson may be used as a checkpoint assessment of cumulative learning throughout this Essential Question. Here, students construct a claim about the power of the written word, drawing on evidence from the investigation.


Ancient Mesopotamia

Image by Markus Spiske

Essential Question

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What is the power of the written word?

The first-known writing system developed in Mesopotamia. Students explore why writing developed there, its purpose, and the impact of various types of writing. Using their learning, they construct an argument about the power of writing.