The Iceman: The Mystery Continues

For Round Two of Ideas by Jivey, 

I am going to be a little tricky!  So make sure you read all the way to the end......

One of my favorite parts of teaching 6th grade is "The Iceman!"  Just in case you were trapped under a boulder and covered by an alpine glacier (baha! little Otzi humor:), "The Iceman" or Otzi was found in 1991 by a couple out hiking along the border of Austria and Italy. 

At first they thought it was an abandoned doll (creepy!), and then they realized that it was a freeze-dried mummy-corpse half sticking out of the ice.  What followed was a few months of blunders.  They thought he was some stupid tourist that got lost, and died in a storm - apparently they lose a few every year in that area.  So when the coroner (yes, the coroner and not forensic archaeologist specializing in the Bronze Age) showed up, they hacked him out of the ice with a pick axe, loaded him in a body bag, and threw him in the chopper.  It wasn't until someone in the morgue noticed mold growing on him that they realized they had the find of the century!

I like to start the Iceman by showing the students this picture:)
And after they stop squealing and squeaking, we go over the other equally gross pictures and basic facts.  Seriously, if you want to get a 6th grader's attention, show them a freeze-dried mummy.

The information about Otzi is endless and fascinating.  Every year they find out something new about him.  Originally, they thought that he had died of hypothermia.  However, a few years ago they decided that Otzi was murdered!  They thought that he died of shock from the pain and blood loss from an arrow wound.  A more recent discovery says that he may have died from a blow to his head.  The information just keeps coming!

The first year my class did the Otzi unit, our culminating class-project was an Iceman Ride.  We made the mummy, the body bag (the then state superintendent of schools came by the day I had a group of boys making that..."What are you making there," asked the state superintendent of schools.  "A body bag," replied the 6th grade boy...seriously:), his clothes, a 3-d mural of his village and glacier, and we stole the principal's chair.  We needed something with wheels to push the customers through the ride with!  We had sound effects, snow (hole punches), and an "authentic reenactment of Otzi's death."  It was wonderful, and took about a month to finish.  Unfortunately, with today's accountability and emphasis on testing, we could not spend that much time on one topic.  Ahhh, the good old days:).

So in this era of standards, I have incorporated the Iceman into tamer projects (tamer: projects that do not include a body bag).  One of the things that we do is a writing assignment - historical narrative.

With my kids, the rubric needs to be very simple and structured.  The outline and rubric are combined.  After we have read all the articles, seen all the documentaries, and organized our notes, I model the first paragraph under the camera.  Since this is usually the first real writing assignment of the year, I will write multiple versions of the introduction with the students giving me details, finishing sentences, and revising.

My class will work on one paragraph at a time.  I will model transitions and topic sentences for them every day.  Each day, I will ask for volunteers and put one paragraph under the camera for revision and editing.  They soon learn that it is a good thing for their paragraphs to be under the camera because they get more help:)

So if you a 6th grade teacher crunched for time, the Iceman is a really interesting, and more importantly,  a gross and disgusting way to combine Social Studies and Language Arts!  With all the new information coming out, I am working on my unit this summer.  If you are interested in the rubric, you can find it here.

And now for the Pinterest portion of our program....have you seen this on Pinterest?


You do know where this is leading right?  I think there might possibly be another body bag in Otzi's future:)  Time to shake things up a little!

Bazinga!  Writing and Pinterest for Workshop Wednesday over at Ideas by Jivey!
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  1. I LOVE this idea! I can't think of any middle school student who wouldn't appreciate a unit like this.

    1. They love it! Even the goofy nerdy documentaries are awesome. By doing Otzi and Maroo of the Winter Caves, I rarely open the textbook until Mesopotamia.

  2. What a fun and engaging idea! I think I have a book about this somewhere. I really like that you are going to break their writing down paragraph by paragraph. Great scaffolding!

    Mrs. Laffin's Laughings

    1. It is always one of the favorites of the year. There are several books out (Scholastic had a non-fiction picture book - it is outdated now, but the pictures are still awesome), but the best info comes from Nat Geo and Discovery online. I love doing it because the information changes every year. This will be their first real essay, so my boos will need the scaffolding:)

  3. I remember when this actually happened! That's awesome that you teach about it! :)
    ideas by jivey
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    1. They learn so much with it, and they don't even realize it:)

  4. You may never see this (because this post is from June) but I am beginning to believe we were sisters (or at least co-teachers) in a former life.
    I LOVE teaching Otzi (I use a "series" of newspaper articles as the tale unfolds) and I also use Maroo!!! I'm pinning this post to remind me of all of your awesome ideas!

    Finding JOY in 6th Grade