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Lessons, learning: A day in the life of Meridian students

By Staff
THE LESSON BEGINS  Dollie Carter, social studies teacher at Carver Middle School, gets the attention of her 7th grade students as they study Egypt. Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Steve Gillespie/The Meridian Star
Nov. 18, 2001
Teaching methods have changed, but Ancient Egypt and kids remain the same.
The consensus of seventh-graders in teacher Dollie Carter's social studies class at Carver Middle School is that if you were a pharaoh in Ancient Egypt, life would have been great; otherwise, it could be pretty bad, especially if you were a servant.
As students reviewed a chapter in their textbooks on the Egyptian civilization, two of them Jasmine Mayhan and Tremeka McWilliams  said they would have liked to have lived in Ancient Egypt if they could have been close to the pharaoh of the time.
The best thing to come out of Ancient Egypt, according to Mayhan, was the agriculture, "the farming has sort of been brought down to us." She said the worst thing for Egypt was when it lost its empire.
For Charity Robinson the most interesting thing about Ancient Egypt was the civilization's medical advances. "They were the first ones to use bandages and they were masters at sewing up people," she said.
The bell rings
Students came into the classroom from lunch Friday afternoon to sit in groups of three or four as Mrs. Dollie Carter rang a shiny silver bell on her desk, the kind usually seen beside a sign that says, "ring for assistance." Carter's bell is used to settle the students down.
The students started their class period by writing answers to chapter review questions in their textbooks.
Examples: What did the Nile River give to the Egyptian people? Why did the Egyptians show such great respect for a pharaoh? How did the Middle Kingdom differ from the Old Kingdom? What kinds of writing did Egyptians have, and for what were they used?
Carter went over the material by asking questions of each group. When they talked about the rich soil of the Nile Delta, she made sure the students realized similarities with the fertile lands of the Mississippi Delta.
When they talked about the rulers of Ancient Egypt, Carter noted that George W. Bush is the leader of the United States. And when they covered Egypt geographically, Carter pointed out its location in relation to Afghanistan.
Next the students discussed the latest chapter they were assigned to read in "Mara, Daughter of the Nile," by Eloise Jarvis McGraw. Carter assigned the book as a companion to the textbook chapter on Egypt.
Carter set her timer again.
Points made
After the students discussed the important points of the chapter, Carter asked them questions again. She was disappointed in some of the answers, or lack thereof.
The class was then given an assignment to illustrate something that happened in the chapter in comic strip form. She allowed them to finish the assignment at home and handed out mid-term progress reports as the class ended. Some of the students whined, some jumped for joy after seeing their grades.
For those who did not have good grades Carter gave them a pep talk, telling them to do whatever they have to do to bring their grades up before the end of the nine week grading period.
Carter said she would probably be hearing from some upset parents Monday. She said parents don't usually get involved with their child's education until something is wrong.
Steve Gillespie is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3233, or e-mail him at