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Organize the copies into groups of same-readings and questions for Parts 1 and 2 (to be handed out first). Reserve the epilogue and Part 3 questions for later.
PowerPoint in Population and Sustainability (PDF)
This exercise is presented as a jigsaw. Ideally there would be 4 groups of 4 students. In Round 1 of the jigsaw, each group reads one of the dated stories of the life on Easter Island. Then the students discuss the round 1 questions together, but answer individually. One question in Round 1 asks them to predict what life might be like in 200-300 years.
For Round 2, the groups are remixed so that each group now has all 4 pieces of the story. They each present the story in date-order, and the whole story of Easter Island unfolds. As each piece is presented, the students are asked to discuss how well their predictions matched the reality 200-300 years in the future. Of course the final reading does not have the final part of the story. In order to check their predictions they need the Epilogue.
In the third part of the jigsaw, each group will collect the Epilogue from the instructor, along with a final set of questions to answer as a group. The last reader can now check his or her predictions, and as a whole group, they can begin a discussion on population and sustainability.
I usually use this piece as an engage activity on a unit about population, however it can be used in other ways, and if you do that you will probably want to change the questions for the final part of the exercise.
It is important that the students not know they are reading about Easter Island before this exercise begins, which is why the title is Island Paradise. It also helps if they don’t know you are about to talk about population. If they anticipate where they will end up, their answers in Rounds 1 and 2 will be skewed.
The easiest way to facilitate the jigsaw is to copy the readings onto different colored paper. In Round 1, people meet in same-color groups, and in Round 2, they need one of each color per group. If you have permanent groups in your classroom, have them in their regular group for Round 2.
Because classroom numbers don’t generally come in perfect squares, I have added a 0-reading (Time, 700 AD). It is not necessary to use it, but you can if you need to form some groups with five members.
I usually follow this with a mini-lecture on population growth and statistics. Part 3 will generate questions. You can either begin to explain some of the immediately, or you can assign research on the topics as homework. For instance, one group might be assigned to research the 29th day, and another to find the most current world population data, etc.
NOVA, Secrets of Lost Empires II – Easter Island
Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, Jared Diamond, 2005, Viking Press.
Perils of a Restless Planet: Scientific Perspective on Natural Disasters, Ernest Zebrowski, 1997, Cambridge University Press
Easter Island – Archeology, Ecology, and Culture, Jo Anne Van Tilburg, 1995, Smithsonian Press
The United Nations Population Information Network: http://www.un.org/popin/
The Population Reference Bureau: http://www.prb.org/
The State of the World Population (UN): http://www.unfpa.org/swp/
From Mysterious Places: http://www.mysteriousplaces.com/Easter_Island/
From NOVA: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/easter/
From the Easter Island Foundation: http://islandheritage.org/wordpress/