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The Egypt GameóA Novel Study

Subject Area: Language Arts

Grade Level(s): 5-8

Duration of Activity: This novel study can take three to six weeks depending on the type and number of activities used to carry out the study.

Description of Activity:

The students will read and respond to the Newberry Honor novel The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. (ISBN 0-689-70297-3). The cooperative novel study is done in conjunction with the social studies class unit on Egypt. The students will be involved in reading the novel using the literary circle format. For background information on this format, see Medieval Times: A Novel Study Using Literature Circles. The students will also be sharing daily thoughts concerning the text in a reader response via e-mail with teacher and classmates within the literary circle. For background information on using email, see Using E-Mail to Develop Letter-Writing Skills for The 21st Century.

The daily literary circle responsibilities and the reader responses are designed to help each student interpret text and share interpretations with other group members. As a culminating activity to the novel study, each group will create and present a project about the book. Some possible project opportunities are as follows: Microsoft PowerPoint presentation, videotaping a student-created play about the novel, or retelling the story in poetic form using a word-processing program such as Microsoft Word.

Objectives: Each student will

  • read selected novel.
  • summarize daily reading.
  • increase vocabulary.
  • connect what is read to real-life experiences.
  • illustrate what is read.
  • reflect on what is read.
  • share text that specifically impacts student.
  • use e-mail to share reader responses with teacher and fellow group members.
  • assist in creating a presentation as a culminating activity to share with the class.

Materials/Equipment:

  • NovelóThe Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. The teacher may select other novels also to be used along with this novel if he/she desires for each literary circle to address a different book. Some suggestions are as follows:
  • Fiction
    Tut, Tut by Jon Scieszk

    Non fiction
    Tales of Ancient Egypt by Roger Green

    Cleopatra by Robert Green

    Cleopatra VII: Daughter of the Nile by Kristiana Gregory

    Tutankhamun: The Life and Death of a Pharaoh by Robert Green.

    There are several ways to locate books built around a theme such as Ancient Egypt. Permabound, Econ-o-clad, and Storybook catalogs have books listed by subjects. Your school media specialist should have these catalogs. You can also go to the Library of Congress on-line. There you can find many entries concerning Egypt. Please note that some of them are appropriate, but some are not. Amazon.com/ and BooksaMillion.com/ also provide good online catalogs. And, students can access online library catalogs, especially those in their local area to find available materials. To access the Mississippi State University online library catalog, visit http://nt.library.msstate.edu/.

  • Computers loaded with Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel or other appropriate software.
  • Computer diskette for each literature circle
  • Markers, colored pencils, or crayons
  • Handout 1: Connector
  • Handout 2: Discussion Leader
  • Handout 3: Illustrator
  • Handout 4: Literary Luminary
  • Handout 5: Summarizer
  • Handout 6: Word Wizard
  • Handout 7: Group Membersí Evaluation Form
  • Handout 8: Literature Circle Notebook
  • Handout 9: Individual Evaluaiton Form for Literature Circles
  • Handout 10: Vocabulary Review Activity (Optional extension activity)

Prerequisites (skills or background needed):

  • Students need some background information about Ancient Egyptian culture and religion. The culture is usually covered in social studies classes. Students can read Egyptian Myths to help them understand the religion. Movies such as The Mummy will give students an idea of Egyptian ceremony and religion. However, be sure to view the movies first before you show them to students. Not all movies concerning Egypt are appropriate for 5-8 graders. Use good judgment to avoid any problems.
  • Students need to be familiar with the keyboard and have knowledge of a word processing program such as Microsoft Word.
  • Students need to be familiar with the pre-formatted Microsoft PowerPoint presentation slides available for them to use in their presentations. Pre-planning through the use of storyboarding will assist the students to form mental images of the slides, enabling them to save time as they are working on their presentations.
  • Students should have basic knowledge of writing, grammar, and spelling skills.

Procedure

Each day the literature circle will meet. Each member will share his or her insights concerning the homework assignment. The group leader will be expected to direct the discussion in an organized manner. When the work has been shared and discussed, the group leader will make new reading assignments, and the responsibilities will be rotated. This procedure will be followed every day until the book has been completed.

Teacher Component:

The teacher should read Voices and Choices in the Student Centered Classroom by Harry Daniels, a book about literature circles:

  1. The teacher needs to have read the book(s) being used in the literature circles so that he/she can enter in the discussion with the students and assess their understanding of the text.
  2. The teacher needs to decide ahead of time how he/she will determine who will be in each circle.
  3. The teacher needs to set a time limit for the project (10 days, three weeks, and so forth). This will enable the students to set page limits for each assignment.
  4. The teacher will need to make copies of the responsibility sheets for each student and will need to model them for the students. Modeling is the key to the studentsí success.

  5. The teacher will need to design rubrics that will assess the cooperative learning experience and the Microsoft PowerPoint presentation, videotape, and creative writing presentations.
  6. These rubrics need to be given to the students before the project begins so that each student will have a good idea of the teacherís expectations.
  7. The teacher will need to monitor daily the progress of each literature circle.
  8. Note: The language arts extension activities may be incorporated at any time during the novel study.

Student Activities:

  1. The student will meet with assigned literature circle daily.
  2. Each literature circle will decide on a member to be the group leader. The group will decide how many pages will be read each night based on the number of days set to complete the project. The group leader has the job of assigning each nightís readings and will oversee the rotation of responsibilities. The following responsibilities will be assigned and rotated daily: discussion director, connector, summarizer, word wizard, literary luminary, and illustrator. The word wizard and literary luminary jobs can be easily combined into one responsibility.
  3. Each student will hand in each assignment to the group leader and the group leader will compile the work into a group notebook using Handout 8: Literature circle Notebook.
  4. Each group will decide on a presentation format: Microsoft PowerPoint, videotape, or creative writing.
  5. The Microsoft PowerPoint presentation must consist of the following slides: title and author slide, character/s slide, theme slide, setting slide, conflict slide, summary slide, list of group members slide, and reader rating slide. Teachers should allow students to be as creative as possible with their PowerPoint presentations, but remind them that they should use a font that is easily read, they should try to use the "Rule of 6" (No more than 6 lines and 6 words to a line), and they should not overdo graphics and animation.

    Literature circles choosing to videotape a scene from the book will need to plan out the script and costumes before taping. They will need time to rehearse and tape the scene. Students may wish to get together after school or at a studentís home to do the actual videotaping. An alternative to this is to let the students do a live performance for the class and videotape it as they perform.

    Literature circles choosing to use creative writing as the presentation format will need to take the information from the novel and rewrite it using a word processing program into a poetic form such as a ballad, alphabet poem, rap, or song.

Accommodations:

  • The lesson activities may easily be modified to accommodate special needs students. Students may read orally within the literature circle to help the non-reader or the group may listen to the book on tape if it is available.
  • Students who need help with the written activities may use tape recorders to record responses. Students proficient in computer skills can easily guide those who need on-on-one help with the PowerPoint process.
  • The classroom teacher will decide on the final product expectations based on the specific needs of the individual student.

Extension Activities:

  • Students will prewrite, draft, revise, edit, and publish a descriptive paragraph about the Professor using a word processing program such as Microsoft Word.
  • Students will create a paper family: Cut out pictures from magazines. Using a word-processing program, write a descriptive paragraph about each family member and a story about an adventure that paper family might have. Students may use a cartoon format.
  • Students will pretend their best friend shows them an outrageous outfit that he/she plans to wear to school. Using correct friendly letter format, the students will write a letter to their friend to tactfully let him/her know the outfit would be the object of ridicule. Students can also use e-mail correctly as a way to send these friendly letters. For background information on this, see Using E-Mail to Develop Letter-Writing Skills for the 21st Century.
  • Students will read "Isis and Osiris" from The First Book of Ancient Egypt by Charles Moz. They will compose and perform an original "Hymn to Isis."
  • Students will play the ancient Egyptian board game called ACHI. An explanation of the game and a diagram of the game board may be found on page 35 of the book The Games of Africa by Jennifer Prior and published by HarperFestival, a division of Harper Collins Publisher. They will also create an original board game based on the novel The Egypt Game.
  • Following the steps in the writing process (prewriting, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing) and using a word-processing program such as Microsoft Word, students will write a narrative concerning a time when he/she got in trouble with parents. Pay attention to organization, voice, point of view, and mechanics/conventions.
  • Students will read Mummies Made in Egypt by Aliki. Using a Venn diagram, the students will compare and contrast the process of mummification with the ceremonies that the gang followed in the novel The Egypt Game. Using the writing process, each student will write a comparison/contrast essay based on his/her diagram.
  • Students will print out their Microsoft PowerPoint presentations, staple them together, and share them with other classes or place them in the library to be used as book reviews by their fellow students and teachers. Slides could be printed individually or 6 slides per page to save paper.
  • Students will print slides from their Microsoft PowerPoint presentations and hang them on a bulletin board or display them in the hallway as an advertisement for a good book.
  • Students will create a classroom database or spreadsheet file that contains basic information about the books they have read as well as their comments about the books. This file could be used as a source of recommended books by students in the class as well as students in future classes.
  • Using Microsoft Excel, students will create a vocabulary review sheet using the words compiled by the Word Wizards from the novel The Egypt Game. They can create Handout 10: Vocabulary Review Activity using the instructions found on Spreadsheets: Non-Traditional Use.

Integration:

  • ArtóHave the students look at some pictures of ancient Egyptian sarcophagi (burial masks or coffins). Then have students trace a life size outline of their bodies on newsprint. Cut the outline out. Then have the students decorate their personal sarcophagus with symbols that represent them personally. These symbols should tell the viewer something about the personís personality, hobbies, interest, achievements, and goals in life. These symbols should be painted or colored to enhance the appearance. Display these in the hallway. Students will enjoy trying to guess the real face behind the sarcophagus.
  • MusicóListen to a recording of the opera Aida or read the book Aida told by Leontyne Price (HBJ, 1990).

Assessments:

  1. The teacher will conduct informal assessments daily by observing the literature circles at work.
  2. Each student will complete Handout 9: Individual Evaluation Form for Literature Circles to assess his/her participation within the group.
  3. Each group leader will complete Handout 7: Group Memberís Evaluation Form for each member of the literature circle.
  4. The teacher will formally assess the group notebook.
  5. The teacher will formally assess the Microsoft PowerPoint presentation, videotape, and creative writing presentations using a rubric designed to assess the use of technology and creative writing. The following sites offer information about creating rubrics.
  6. TeachNology
    http://www.teach-nology.com/web_tools/rubrics/

    Kathy Shrockís Guide for Educators: Teacher Helpers
    http://school.discovery.com/schrockguide/assess.html

    Rubric Construction Set
    http://landmark-project.com/classweb/rubrics/rubric3_build.php3

    Rubrics
    http://www.techtrekers.com/rubrics.html

    Students and Teachers Alike Can Benefit from Rubrics
    http://www.interactiveclassroom.com/articles_010.htm
    This site discusses how students can take part in developing rubrics for projects. This particular article offers information that would be useful to teachers going for national board certification.

URLs:

Curriculum Frameworks

Mississippi:

Fifth Grade, Sixth Grade, Seventh Grade & Eighth Grade

  1. Communicate for a variety of purposes through different forms of writing using processes of reading, writing, listening, and viewing for an expanding audience.
  2. Complete projects and tasks in an organized and coherent manner.
  3. Read, listen to, and view multimedia sources to select and use information.
  4. Develop self-monitoring skills to work independently and cooperatively.
  5. Participate cooperatively while engaging in small group activities to analyze and interpret information, to make decisions, to solve problems, and to produce a given product.
  6. Discover the history and inherent beauty of cultural expression in language and literature.
  7. Read independently with fluency and for meaning using a variety of strategies.
  8. Read, analyze, and respond in written and oral language or other art forms to increasingly challenging literature and other resources.

NETS Performance Indicators for Grade Level 3-5 / NETS Standard(s):

  1. Use keyboards and other common input and output devices efficiently and effectively. (1)
  2. Use general purpose productivity tools and peripherals to support personal productiviy, remediate skill deficits, and facilitate learning throughout the curriculum. (3)
  3. Use technology tools (e.g., multimedia authoring, presentation, Web tools, digital cameras, scanners) for individual and collaborative writing, communication, and publishing activities to create knowledge products for audiences inside and outside the classroom.
  4. Use telecommunications efficiently and effectively to access remote information, communicate with others in support of direct and independent learning, and pursue personal interets.

NETS Performance Indicators for Grade Level 6-8 / NETS Standard(s):

  1. Apply productivity /multimedia tools and peripherals to support personal productivity, group collaboration, and learning throughout the curriculum. (3,6)
  2. Design, develop, publish, and present products using technology resources that demonstrate and communicate concepts to audiences inside and outside the classroom. (4,5,6)
  3. Select and use appropriate tools and technology resources to accomplish a variety for tasks and solve problems. (5,6)

TerraNova:

01 Oral Comprehension (Level 10,11)
Demonstrate both literal and interpretive understanding of passages that are read aloud.

Use writing or other means to respond to literal and interpretive questions about passages that are read aloud.

02 Basic Understanding (Level 10-21/22)
Demonstrate understanding of the literal meaning of a passage through identifying stated information, indicating sequence of events, and defining grade level vocabulary.

Write responses to questions requiring literal information from passages and documents.

03 Analyze Text (Level 11-21/22)
Demonstrate comprehension by drawing conclusions: inferring relationships, such as cause and effect; and identifying theme and story elements, such as plot, climax, character, and setting.

Write responses that show an understanding of the text that goes beyond surface meaning.

04 Evaluate and Extend Meaning (Level 11-21/22)
Demonstrate critical understanding by making predictions, distinguishing between fact and opinion, and reality and fantasy; transferring ideas to other situations; and judging author purpose, point of view, and effectiveness.

Write responses that make connections between texts based on common themes and concepts; evaluate authorís purpose and effectiveness; and extend meaning to other contexts.

05 Identify Reading Strategies (Level 11-21/22)
Demonstrate awareness of techniques that enhance comprehension, such as using existing knowledge, summarizing content, comparing information across text, using graphic organizers and text structure, and formulating questions that deepen understanding.

Write responses that interpret and extend the use of information from documents and forms, and that demonstrate knowledge and use of strategies.

07 Sentence structure (Level 11-21/22)
Demonstrate and understanding of conventions for writing complete and effective sentences, including treatment of subject and verb, punctuation, and capitalization.

Demonstrate an understanding of conciseness and clarity of meaning in combining two sentences.

08 Writing strategies (Level 11-21/22)
Demonstrate knowledge of information sources, outlines, and other prewriting techniques.

Demonstrate an understanding of the use of topic sentences, concluding sentences, connective and transitional words and phrases, supporting statements, sequencing ideas, and relevant information in writing expository prose.

Link and Feedback to Author(s):

Debbie Hurt, Tupelo Middle School, Tupelo, MS
hurtdp@tupelo.k12.ms.us

Handout 1:
Connector
Word Acrobat
Handout 2:
Discussion Director
Word Acrobat
Handout 3:
Illustrator
Word Acrobat
Handout 4:
Literary Luminary
Word Acrobat
Handout 5:
Summarizer
Word Acrobat
Handout 6:
Word Wizard
Word Acrobat
Handout 7:
Group Members' Evaluation Form
Word Acrobat
Handout 8:
Literature Circle Notebook
Word Acrobat
Handout 9:
Individual Evaluation Form for Literature Circles
Word Acrobat
Handout 10:
Vocabulary Review Activity
Word Acrobat
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