Fourth grade is studying the American Revolution and I wanted to introduce them to primary documents as an information resource. I also wanted to acquaint them with the book, George vs George: The Revolutionary War as Seen by Both Sides by Rosalyn Schanzer. This book is a great example of the IB key concept of perspective.
Borrowing an Idea from WritingFix
I found a lesson plan on Writingfix.com and used the first part of it (http://writingfix.com/WAC/HistoryFix/George_vs_George1.htm) which used portraits of George Washington and King George. The website also provided a graphic organizer for the students to use to analyze the primary source document. This was also an opportunity to have the students practice making inferences, an ELA skill they work on in this grade level. I marked the word, “infer” in dictionaries and had one student read the definition while the others followed along.
Model First and then Small Group Work
First I modeled what the students were going to do. I have a large poster of a portrait of Paul Revere from a collection of posters, Picturing America: America’s History Through Our Nation’s Art, from a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. This portrait by John Singleton Copley is a good way to have the students, as a whole group, work through “reading” this painting. They noticed the tea pot, the tools, his plain clothes, etc. Then they brainstormed what that might mean (inferring) about this person (I covered up his name). Then they worked in small groups looking at the two portraits.
Two Men-What Can We Infer?
I gave each group a small copy of each of the paintings, one of King George and the other of George Washington. At this point they had just begun their study of the Revolutionary War and most didn’t know who these men in the portraits were. I gave them about 5 minutes to observe the first portrait and make notes on their graphic organizer and then I had them move onto the second portrait.
For the most part the students did a good job and were surprised to see what they could find out about a person, just by looking at a painting. After we shared a few observations, I revealed who each man was and showed them the book, George vs George.
I will be sharing this book with this grade level over the next couple of weeks. Just not sure how yet!
The kindergarten’s current Unit of Inquiry focuses on families and in preparation for our school’s upcoming Grandparents’ Day we read, The Hello, Goodbye Window by Norton Juster. After reading this book about a little girl and her grandparents the students drew a picture of their grandparents. I suggested they think about what their grandparents looked like. Did they wear glasses? Have a mustache? Have grey hair? I think it helped some students key in and include these details.
Created Window Frames
I created window frames by cutting a large piece of construction paper (12 x 18) in half and using a template cut openings with an exacto knife and metal straight edge. A bit tedious but not complicated.
They glued on a window frame and created their own “hello, goodbye window.”
Sometimes inspiration strikes when you least expect it. I wanted to design a lesson for first grade students to introduce them to a couple of historical figures they will be studying for their IB Unit of Inquiry. Sometimes grades will also have what we call “stand-alones” or standards that don’t fit in with their Unit of Inquiry, but they will cover during the six weeks.
So I was looking to combine historical figures and magnets (their stand-alone science standard). As I was mulling this over I remembered a box of business cards and magnets that my son left behind when he changed careers and moved to Atlanta. So I have this box of cards and the magnets that can be adhered to make the business cards into a refrigerator magnet. Bingo! It came to me. Have the students draw a portrait of one of the historical figures on the reverse side of the business card, peel off the protective sheet on the magnet, place the card on the magnet and you have a project!
Britannica School Elementary via Galileo website
We are so fortunate that the state of Georgia provides libraries free access to some fabulous web resources including Britannica School Elementary encyclopedia via Galileo. I projected the website on our large screen and we read some basic information about three of the historical figures from the social studies standards.
Georgia Standard of Excellence: Social Studies: SS1H1 Read about and describe the life of historical figures in American history. a. Identify the contributions made by these figures: Theodore Roosevelt (National Parks and the environment), George Washington Carver (science), and Ruby Bridges (civil rights).
George Washington Carver, Ruby Bridges and Theodore Roosevelt
I found several photographs of each of the individuals and placed copies on the tables so that students could refer to them. I also included the names on each sheet so they would know who was who and how to spell their names.
After reading about these three people students decided who to draw portraits of and I had them include the name of individual on their drawing.
I helped them attach their drawing (business card) onto the magnet. I set up a station of several objects for their magnet testing; cardboard, plastic, metal, glass, and wood. Fortunately I had a volunteer or a teacher to assist the children as they tested to see what the magnet would stick to.
S1P2. Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information to demonstrate the effects of magnets on other magnets and other objects.
The idea of International Day of Peace, LEGOS and the book, Chickens Build a Wall just sort of coalesced one night. We were celebrating IDP with grades 3-5, but I needed a lesson for second grade. Makerspace activities were also on my mind and I thought about Jean-Francois Dumont’s book, Chickens Build a Wall, which led to the idea of having students build a wall, which led to LEGOS.
Chickens Build a Wall is about a flock of chickens who don’t act very peaceably towards a stranger who appears in the barnyard. Students designed and built a wall using LEGOS to protect their chickens (represented by dried beans). They then disassembled the structure which supports one of their Georgia Standards of Excellenc-Science: S2P1 Construct an explanation for how structures made from small pieces (linking cubes, building blocks) can be disassembled and then rearranged to make new and different structures.
Many of our children have no experience building with LEGOS, so it looks like any reason I can find to let them build things will help them improve their fine motor skills, their creativity and engineering concepts.