This lesson will begin with a review of information on major early hominids, although it can also be used as an instructional. If you have any musical skills, you’ll begin by playing an acoustic live version of John Denver’s “I’m Sorry”, adapted to fit early humans. If you don’t, never fear! You can just play the original song or have a student perform the song I wrote. You will then model how students can outline their own thoughts in an organized manner. Students will write condolence letters from the perspective of an early human. You can wrap up the lesson by having students turn in their work or perform it for the class.
Rationale for the lesson
Studying all the early hominids that existed in early human history can be utterly mind numbing and boring to the average student. I enjoy it, but as educators we have to realize that our passion is not always our students’. This lesson will review major early hominids as well as challenge students to think critically and creatively. In addition to students stepping out of their shell a bit, if you have never sung for your students, now is your chance! Lastly, just in case your administrators get a bit nervous about your lesson, students will be outlining their writing in a very organized manner as well as creating an original piece of expository text. Keep this disclaimer in mind...whether you or your students believe in evolution is completely irrelevant. If you have early humans in your curriculum, this lesson will be very important. I always tell students at the start of the unit that they don’t have to believe in evolution, there is no grade associated with their belief in God or evolution. The only thing they have to acknowledge is that historians have a theory of evolution; that is what you will be studying. Just like other historical areas (ex: the Greeks)...students don’t have to accept what they are reading as fact, they can be critical and make up their own minds. If you have any questions from parents, administrators or staff, that explanation should allow you to proceed.
Prerequisite knowledge and skills
Students should know at least a little about early humans. For this lesson, I have had them read out of our text or from the Smithsonian website (linked in the lesson). Either way, the lesson can be used as a review as well as an assessment of their early hominid knowledge. Students don’t need advanced writing skills as the lesson itself can help teach outlining, but if students are advanced you can use the lesson to push deeper in their critical thinking talents.