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Ms. Nye Class Thinking Like Hammurabi

Recently, sixth-graders in Ms. Nye’s class have been studying ancient Mesopotamian society, and in so doing, have begun to learn more about Hammurabi’s Code. You’ve likely heard of the ancient edict: “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.” Hammurabi’s Code is consists of dozens of laws reflecting variations of this edict, scaled to social status of the society (and time period) within which it existed.

As Hammurabi’s various laws were not always intended to be (but oftentimes were) literal in their reciprocity, Ms. Nye’s students were tasked with analyzing some samples of these laws. Using what they’ve learned to date, students worked in groups to guess what Hammurabi might have meant when discussing punishment for the different crimes listed. Moving from table to table (upon which half of Hammurabi’s different laws were written in marker), they gave their interpretations of how the back half of each law would likely finish, relative to the time period. Students were asked to finish sentences such as: “If anyone breaks into a house to steal, he shall…” and: “if a man breaks another man’s bone, he shall…”and more.

an example question written on the whiteboards

Students wrote their best guesses on the tables, whiteboards, and chalkboards in real time, quickly covering the surfaces of each. At the conclusion of the exercise, Ms. Nye had a couple of the guesses read aloud, before informing students of the actual, Hammurabi-specific answers to these queries (often to a chorus of disbelieving gasps). Learning about the past served as a great reminder of how wildly different today’s societies have become.


students get to work on their predictions
students write out their answers on the blackboard

Students then pulled out their Chromebooks to look over some of the material that they’ll be working on as the week progresses. By working together and thinking critically, these students tackled learning in an engaging way.

students begin looking at future lessons on their chromebooks

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Homer Central School District
Mr. Thomas Turck, Superintendent

80 South West Road
Homer, NY 13077

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