Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Andrew Jackson's Face... soon to be leaving our 20 dollar bills ... this was cause for cheers and celebration in my classroom earlier this school year. Prior to the announcement that Harriet Tubman, a minority AND a woman - GO AMERICA! was going to be replacing Old Hickory, we had studied the Trail of Tears.
As you know, the Trail of Tears marks one of the most controversial actions during Andrew Jackson's presidency - and an unfortunate study during any Native American Cultural unit. 
Blending both reading and social studies, I do a sequence activity summarizing the dreaded Western march of the Cherokee Indians. 
Together, we do a close reading of an article on the Trail of Tears, sharing our thinking in the margins and circling key sequencing words In the beginning, next, finally. 
Using this information, we number the the travel sequences (6) and students work in pairs to summarize each event on a slip of square paper. Students than recreate the journey on a map and place the sequenced events on it, in the order that they occurred. 
Students gain a lot of insight during this activity and come away from the experience with a lot of knowledge and empathy for the Cherokee people. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Jimmy Cracked Corn

During our Early Settlements unit, the kids found all the different jobs that children had to do fascinating. Early on, students comments center around the children being over worked ..."treated like slaves, being worked too hard by their parents, the Cinderella story," etc ... However, as we dive deeper in to our study, I am always happy to discover the change in my student's understanding what up, Synthesizing!! :P
One important lesson that really helps drive this understanding home is a reading inference lesson on Sarah Morten's Day. I am sure many of your are familiar with this book, being a teacher favorite around Thanksgiving. 
I start the lesson by reading the story as a good old fashioned read aloud. By this time, students have a pretty good understanding of Jamestown and Plymouth so they can make some good connections to the text. 
I then work through the inference sheet I have created modeling my thinking with the first text inference, the second two they complete by sharing their thinking with their partner and than writing down, the last two should be accomplished individually, however, you may need to model more if this is a new skill. 
At the end, students have an opportunity to share their reflection on what life was like for children during early settlements. After diving deeper into the text's meaning, students can form a more accurate assessment of childhood. 
Student Observations: 
  • They probably had to work harder because if they didn't their family might struggle for food during the winter. 
  • Everyone had to help out to help the family survive - pull their own weight.
  • They were very respectful of adults and their parents.
  • They enjoyed games like we do.
  • Parents had to be strict because life was harder and they were focused on survival.
  • Parents loved their children and children loved their parents, just like today.
As a fun sponge activity, we also practiced grinding corn. I had the students fill out a planning sheet before our activity which can be found at my TPT store. They REALLY enjoyed this activity. 
Materials Needed: 
Planning/Reflection sheet for each group
24 medium sized rocks 
One 10lb bag of squirrel corn (whole cob) 
Container to carry corn and corn meal 

Students had a great time pounding corn - many of them were surprised at how long it took to get down to corn meal. They also discovered many different methods that helped the process, such as grinding the kernels with the rock instead of slamming the rock down, keeping the kernels together to crush instead of spreading them out, etc. 

Overall, I think this activity, along with the inference lesson, really helped the kids recognized the importance of children's work in early settlements and the manual labor it took. 
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