Friday, January 16, 2015

WHY did People Explore?

I have done a lot of different activities to introduce the motives for early exploration, however, this year I really wanted to incorporate some Close reading, note taking, and summary. My theory is that if I sneak reading and writing skills into social studies I can get away with teaching it more ;0) 
 I always try to have some sort of hands-on, tangible item for the kiddos to feel, smell, use, etc. to help them stimulate their thinking. I kept those items the same which included a flag, a Bible, spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, cumin), gold pieces, and a question mark.
This time though, I added different informational paragraphs that I found here and there that share the reasons for exploration. With a partner, the kids shared the packet of articles and used the clue item at their table to figure out which motive it matched. For example: the flag represented lands to conquer. Spices represented their desire to acquire spices and other trade items from Asia. A Bible represented the push to spread Christianity. The gold pieces represented the quest for gold and riches. Finally, I couldn't really think of an object for "adventure" so I just had a question mark - it worked :) 
Once partners had identified their object and its importance to the reason for Exploration, they then had to work on highlighting key words that answered summary questions including who, what, where, when, why, and how. These five words also were to show their evidence on why they matched their item to that reason. 
I was so impressed with how engaged and focused they all were! It definitely helped instill the 5 reasons as well as give great practice at summary, note taking, partner agreement, and reading fluency/comprehension of more challenging text. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

WHO were the Explorers?

We have jumped into the Age of Exploration with both feet! In the three days we have been in school thus far since Christmas break, yes, you read that right - we have had THREE snow days since getting back on the 5th!  we have gone back in time to Europe during the time of the Renaissance! 
We review that at this time in history, Native Americans are continuing to live their unique lifestyles as previously studied having no idea of what is to come. However, before discussing this eventual collision between the Old World and the New, it is important for students to understand what life in Renaissance Europe was like at this time. WHO were these men that came to the New World? This will help us understand (NOT EXCUSE!) their motives, their beliefs, and regretfully, their actions toward many Native American cultures.
I give the kids a Renaissance name and character bio card - they study their character and practice name pronunciations ;0) before sharing the bios with the class. 
Characters include Soldiers, Noblemen and women, peasant workers, tradesmen, merchants, traders, cartographers, craftsmen, sailors, captains, wives, mothers, youngest and oldest sons, Bishops, monks, nuns, Christians, Muslims, and more! 

Very quickly, we notice a pattern among our characters. Life was NOT the same as it is today! Plague and diseases ran rampant due to lack of hygiene and knowledge of germs. Women lived with fear of childbirth and men and children often lost wives and mothers. Noblemen owned and inherited lands (well, oldest sons that is) which poor peasant families worked. The majority of the population was uneducated, there were no hospitals or homeless shelters. Practicing other religions was punishable by death - even reading the Bible was illegal in many parts of Europe. Women had little to say about their lives and were often used through marriage to increase their family's wealth and influence. Many people were burned for their beliefs and hundreds of Muslim and Jewish people were persecuted and kicked out of Spain and other European countries. If you somehow managed to make it through all of this, warring between European countries to acquire more land affected almost every group of people.  
All of this we experienced through our characters and charted on our graphs. Our discovery is that most people experienced death in a very personal way, some died, and a few were extremely against groups of people they did not like or felt were not as good.
What does this mean for the Native Americans? These were HARD men, accustomed to poverty, death, war, prejudices, and persecution. Their number one goal = survival. and nothing is going to stand in the way of what they want...

Cultural Heritage Project Recap 2014

Before Thanksgiving every year, I explain our big Christmas Heritage Project to the kiddos. I introduce the project and encourage them to talk to their parents/grandparents over break to find out about their family's heritage and roots. THIS post has more information on the early explanation, research, and ornament presentation.
Researching how our countries celebrate Christmas or a winter holiday
 Reading LOTS of books on our countries 
 Presenting our Ornaments
This year, I incorporated a more in depth essay that utilized our research more. We still did the research and presentation of our "tradition" ornament, however I added an additional step - students wrote a compare and contrast text structure informational essayparagraph depending on

Incorporating geography, we also researched where our cultural country was located using maps, globes, and atlases. It was very interesting listening to the kids as they discover the SIZE comparison of other countries to our own. Many of them were shocked by how small their country was and at how BIG others were. Geography can be very eye opening for one's world view in many ways. 
This works perfect to introduce our next unit that we start in January - Early European Explorers! 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Project Christmas

Vocabulary Word of the Day = Blessing 
For the past few years, every Christmas, our two fifth grade classes choose a community service project to support. This year, we decided to help Toys for Tots. We spend two weeks selling Candy Canes at school. The kiddos sell candy canes at 25 cents specialty canes at 50 cents for ten minutes before school starts in the morning with a partner and tally the amount. 
 During morning work they sold to fifth graders and counted up money. Then, during math class, we looked at how many candy canes we sold, how much money we made, what the total was, and what our current profit was. Slowly, our chart grew and grew ...
This year, we profited $524!!! 
What an incredible experience we had this year for our project!  
This last Thursday, our entire fifth grade team - 46 students, 6 chaperons, and 2 teachers traveled to Walmart with a budget and a plan. When we arrived, we were greeted by Walmart employees who presented us with an additional $100 to spend! The students shopped with their chaperons, picking out toys to donate. While shopping, a Hershey Chocolate representative decided to support our project by presenting us with an additional $100 cash on the spot! Walmart also provided us with cookies, punch, and a mini stocking for each kid to enjoy during their shopping trip. We were all blessed by the experience and the support we received from our community in helping with this great project! We dropped off the toys at our Lions Club to be distributed though the Toys for Tots program.  

Does your class do any community service activities during the year, I would love to hear about them! 

Project: Annual Native American Dioramas

It is project time again in our classroom! Students did an absolutely FAB job this year taking their learning and applying it to our region project - I just had to share! Students worked with their original regional group to design a diorama of their cultures environment, shelter, natural resources, and any other details they could. 
Students reread their information on their region. Loved seeing them reviewing their unit notes about their region to help them plan their diorama. 

They did an absolutely amazing job and really showcased their knowledge of each region! I really could not get over the incredible amount of DETAIL they put into them! It was so exciting listening to them share what they wanted to add based off of their knowledge. So. Cool. 
Painted sticks for "Sugar Cane" 
yes, that is a brave going through the "Sun Dance" 
Removable roof to see inside the "Kiva" 
This Eastern Woodland long house has an "open top" to see inside - love. it.! 
Love this depiction of a whale hunt! 
 Ice Fishing
 Inuksuk formation 
 Please note this adorable bundle of wood - it is even tied together with a string :p 
We were also able to get our dioramas on display at our public library in town - this was really neat because it gave the kids an authentic outside of school audience to showcase their knowledge and work. 
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