If you were lost in the woods, what would you need to survive? A fifth grade student would tell you to call upon an early Native American tribe, whose members were experts in using natural resources to meet their needs.
What better way to start the season of Thanksgiving than with a unit on Native Americans. Fifth grade students dug deep to learn just how important the land and environment were to these First Americans. First students chose a tribe to research and through multiple sources learned how physical geography influenced the Indians’ way of life. Students took notes on tribes’ food, clothing, shelter, and major beliefs. Through their research students were required to make their own connections and inferences that eventually culminated into a five paragraph essay. Students not only enhanced their knowledge of our American history, but gained respect for these early people as connections can sometimes only be made by putting yourself in someone else’s shoes.
With reading integration in mind, students also perfected their ability to organize an informational text, create an introduction that “hooks” the reader, and use appropriate transition words and domain-specific vocabulary throughout their writing. Not sure what pemmican or a chickee stilt house is? Ask our fifth graders—they can tell you!
To end the unit students then participated in a “twitter” project.” Working in small groups, they were yet again required to make inferences. They were given a group of images and had to decide what Cultural Region was represented. Then, they had to discuss how that particular group was able to meet their basic needs with the natural resources around them. They used accountable talking methods, practiced active listening, and then got to write their own “tweets” on the board. As groups moved to each board they were also asked to respond to other classmates “tweets.”
This activity not only served as an engaging way to review, but also provided a true demonstrations of the students’ learning. Most importantly, the students were given the opportunity to perfect the art of hash-tagging.
#lifeofafifthgrader #teacherwasproud #NativeAmericans #criticalthinking
- Terri Struthers, Fifth Grade Teacher