Teaching Stonehenge

I teach Stonehenge in both my AP Art History and Humanities classes. Although there is a good deal of overlap, I teach it quiet differently in each classes (mostly because I have a few students who take me for both and I do not want them to be bored!). These lessons can also be adapted for a World History or Civilizations course – just change-up the articles used depending on your focus.

Teaching Stonehenge

Art History

As groups of 4, each student grabs a different article from the center (see Archaeology & Smithsonian articles in the Resources section below). I try to make sure there are a diverse amount of articles floating around the classroom at various reading levels. Once I start to notice students are finished reading, I signal them to build a full discussion of the form, function, content, and context (FFCC) of Stonehenge in their small groups as I walk around to hear their remarks.

stonehengemap3
(via)

After their small group discussion, I pull up a PowerPoint slide of vocabulary words they need to know and actively use in our whole-class discussion to follow. Here are the words I teach:

  • Henge: Neolithic monument characterized by a circular ground-plan which was believed to be used for rituals and marking astronomical events
  • Lintel: horizontal beam over an opening
  • Megalith: an uncut stone of great size
  • Mortise-and-tenon: a method of construction in which a groove is cut into stone or wood, called a mortise, that is shaped to receive a projection, a tenon
  • Post-and-Lintel: a method of construction in which two vertical posts support a horizontal beam, a lintel

Then, as a class, we build a very in-depth FFCC (sometimes there are different ideas for function and construction and we discuss the viability of each theory in turn). After our discussion I show a short video, English Heritage: Who built Stonehenge?, to end the class.

stonehenge
(via)

Humanities

I take two days to teach this Prehistoric site in Humanities because the kids really enjoy learning about such a well-known monument and they get into deep discussion.

Day 1

As groups of 4, each student grabs a different article from the center (the same articles as AP Art History plus a few more “fun” ones like “Stonehenge Visitors Used To Be Handed Chisels to Take Home Souvenirs“). Once I start to notice the groups are finished reading, I signal them to discuss the similarities and differences in their small group, walking around to hear their discussions.

After their small group discussion, I have a set of PowerPoint images with questions about Stonehenge’s creation, materials, function, culture or society, recent news, oddities (hello aliens!) and so on. 🙂 We go through the questions as a class and students that had articles that answer parts of the questions get to share their knowledge. Once we have exhausted our whole-class discussion, I have a short clip, Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites (UNESCO/NHK) (3:15 minutes long) to pull together all the important information.

As you can see, I do little direct teaching here but I use my questions to guide them to important information and I make sure my questions can be answered by at least 2 different articles in the crowd.

Summer Solstice at Stonehenge
(via)

Day 2

Today is simple: we watch the NOVA Secrets of Stonehenge documentary (53:07) & complete the guided questions.

Resources

There are numerous resources on Stonehenge so these are just the ones in my personal arsenal:

JMF


title image: http://i.huffpost.com/gen/1693975/images/o-STONEHENGE-THEORIES-facebook.jpg

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