South Philly meets ancient Ghana | Mentoring in the Middle

South Philly meets ancient Ghana

   I don't often burst out laughing when I'm reading student essays.  You know what I'm talking about, right.  I'm pretty good about making sure everything else is taken care of before I read through them.  You know, my coffee cup has been washed out, emails have been answered, new ideas have been thought through, copies made, etc.  And then I'm ready to read.

    And I'm curious.  Does having a dirty coffee cup get in the way of good grading?  I don't know, and I certainly don't think of myself as rigid, but boy, oh boy, it takes a while for me to get my pitoot in the chair, ready to rock and roll.  With purple pen in hand.

     In Reading, we'd been learning about a bartering practice in ancient Ghana that was conducted silently, in order to protect the secrecy of nearby gold mines.  Merchants would lay out their goods, beat a special drum, and leave.  The miners would come out of the gold mines, look over the goods, and lay gold dust down in exchange.  They'd beat the drum, leave, and the merchants would reappear.  This process might go on a few times, but eventually everyone left happily.  And no one had said a word.

     My students were mystified that these people were honest.  And silent.  And that "dumb bartering" didn't mean that barterers were stupid, but that they were silent. We even talked about the evolution of language for a while, and they came up with good examples.  Something that's sick isn't always ill, and something that's rich isn't always wealthy.  And we discussed what it must have been like to live back then.

     And then came the test a few days later.  One of the open-ended questions was really getting at Main Idea and Detail, and a number of students chose to respond by writing about dumb bartering.  My favorite?  "The merchants laid out their goods by a stream or near bushes, and then they beat on a special drum called a deba.  That was their way of saying, "Yo, I want to trade!'"

     I would have made some joke about the movie, Rocky (Yo, Adrian!) but they wouldn't have gotten it.  Am I showing my age?!

     Speaking of grading, these Dodecahedron Book Projects were a great hit with my students.  They're not my creation; they're one of the top selling products on TpT, created by Mr. Hughes.  And I can see why!  Here's a picture of our hallway early one morning before students arrived, with about half of the projects hanging.

   Yo!  It's Friday evening.  So go and have a great weekend!


  1. Hah! Kids say the darndest things :)

    I recently bought the dodecahedrom book report project from Mr. Hughes too! It is soooo AWESOME! I can't wait to see what my kids do with them :)

    Joy in the Journey

  2. Yo,Marion! Kids are so funny, aren't they? And your bartering lesson sounds wonderful! Now that I'm intrigued I'll have to look it up to read more about it.
    Thank you!