Creative Approaches

Submitted by Rick Aguilar on

By Kathryn Medill

How do we find out what students have learned – with an exam, or something else? Depending on the content and goals of a course, students may be able to internalize their new knowledge even better through a creative project or by joining a real scholarly conversation. Whether that means re-enacting a battle, role-playing as servers in an international restaurant, presenting a sales pitch for an ancient burial ground, writing and performing skits, collecting oral histories through interviews, creating wonderful art, or translating sources for new audiences, students enjoy these assignments, and their professors love them too! Here are a few of the creative projects you might find in a MELC class.

Izzi Xu slide from final project

Time Travel

MELC 201, Introduction to the Ancient Near East, and MELC 202, Introduction to the Hebrew Bible

Dr. Kathryn Medill

In several of my courses, I use the idea of time travel to create course assignments.

In MELC 201, we take a tour of the history of the ancient Middle East—Egypt, Babylon, Assyria, the Hittites, Persia, Israel and Judah—from the invention of writing to the rise of the Persian Empire. Every week, students think themselves into these ancient worlds with time travel logs. As historical researchers for the Time Travel Bureau, they go back to Babylon (or Egypt, or elsewhere) and report on what they’ve seen. The last time this course was offered, students helped to build the pyramids, escaped bands of robbers in the mountains, argued with the locals about Sennacherib’s campaigns in Canaan, were recruited as spies by the Assyrian Intelligence Service, and more!

MELC 202 introduces the Hebrew Bible. At one point in the quarter, we explore ancient Israelite daily life and important historical sites in a Time Travel Tour Fair. Students work in pairs to represent time travel tour companies, creating flyers for their chosen topic or site, and presenting them to their classmates in a grand activities fair.