Student, professor collaborate on Middle Eastern teaching project

Jennifer L. Gianetto, currently a teaching assistant at Fairley Elementary School in Hannibal, and her former professor, Dr. Audrey Rule of SUNY Oswego, have published an article in the current issue of the journal published by the National Council for the Social Studies on Gianetto’s master’s degree project on teaching about Middle Eastern antiquity.

“Jennifer completed her master’s project with me in August of 2004,” Rule said. “She became interested in the Middle East because her father had served in that area during Desert Storm.”

The two collaborated on making some “object boxes,” sets of objects and cards that would teach elementary students concepts about the region and period. One of the object boxes featured in the article, Rule said, helps elementary students learn of different products traded during ancient times in the Middle East: goats, sheep, horses, cotton cloth, gold, jewelry, spices, tin, coral and salt.

In another object box, students sort photographs of people from the region according to whether they are farmers, city-dwellers, or Bedouins, Rule said. Next, they choose objects representing typical characteristics seen in the photographs for each group, such as housing (tent, mud brick house, apartment building), clothing (western clothing, hijab), animals (camel, burro, oxen, cow, goat, sheep, cat) and transportation (car, bus, truck, camel, cart).

“Then they compare and contrast these groups with people in our culture, referring to these characteristics,” Rule explained.

Other object boxes described in the article address achievements of the Muslim Caliphate, traditional Middle Eastern clothing, major environmental regions, changing empires and nations, beliefs of Islam, and interdependence between Middle East countries and other nations, Rule said.

“All of these support National Standards and were used with sixth-grade students in a local school last spring when Jennifer was completing a practicum experience,” she said.

“Using Object Boxes to Teach about Middle Eastern Antiquity” by Gianetto and Rule appears in the March/April issue of the journal Social Studies and the Young Learner.

- END -

(Posted: Apr 20, 2005)