INTO THE CURRICULUM
School Library Media Activities Monthly/Volume XXII, Number 1/September 2005
Social Studies: Washington, D. C., and the Independent Learner
by Maureen Tannetta
Maureen Tannetta is the library media specialist at Avery Elementary School in Natick, MA.
Library Media Skills Objectives:
The student will learn independent research skills: identifying resources, locating information, taking notes, and completing a project by using technology resources.
Curriculum (subject area) Objectives:
The student will study national landmarks in Washington, D. C., in conjunction with a study of the North American territory. The student will be exposed to computerized table making and photo finding by using Microsoft Publisher (or other software for making tables and inserting photographs.)
Grade Level: 4
- Online and print children's encyclopedias
- Websites (general)
- National Park Service. Search for the monuments on the mall page: Jefferson, Washington, Lincoln, Vietnam, Korea, and Franklin D. Roosevelt
- Smithsonian Institution. The Smithsonian Institution, sixteen museums, and the National Zoo.
- ExploreDC.org. This site is sponsored by WETA, the public broadcasting station in the area.
- Websites (specific)
To begin the unit, mapping skills are taught by the classroom teacher. Together the teacher and library media specialist teach three to four forty-minute lessons related to research skills and help students translate their research into facts for a table. Students create the charts in the library media center with the library media specialist and aides.
The library media specialist reinforces the mapping skills and curriculum standards by using games in the media center.
Activities and Procedures for Completion:
- Using a good map of the United States, ask students where Washington is located. Help clear up the confusion of students arguing over Washington, D. C., and Washington state. Ask students what state Washington, D. C., is in. Explain, if necessary, that it is not in a state. Show a map of Washington, D. C., emphasizing the diamond shape and the decision to return the land Virginia donated. Discuss the role George Washington played in surveying the site of our capital city.
- Give a brief history of the strong desire colonists had to govern themselves and be independent of England's rule and rules. Compare the colonists wanting independence to students not wanting teachers. Ask students if they think they could learn without teachers. Most students respond very positively to the fact they can learn without any teachers, and the stage is set for them to be "independent" learners.
- Keep the topics a mystery, and have pairs of students choose a slip of paper from a basket to determine the national landmark that they will research.
- Demonstrate how to use print and online encyclopedias as a "suggestion" for finding information, but al-low students to think of other resources as well. Explain the difference between reliable and unreliable websites and provide students with access to a document listing reliable websites (see Resources).
- Provide students with a blank table template to record basic facts that they can use to teach others. Category blocks could be labeled Description, City quadrant, Purpose of landmark, Building materials, and Does it honor or help the government work?
- Demonstrate how to use Microsoft Publisher (or similar software) to make a picture frame with a table of facts below and allow time to create these documents. In another meeting, allow students to search for pictures from a Web-based image site, such as http://www.google.com images tab, and teach them to save the files to a computerized folder. Once students have collected information on a paper template and saved a photo or two, they are ready to produce their publisher visual.
- City Quadrant: Southwest
When Started: The Lincoln Memorial started to be built on Feb. 15,1915. It was dedicated on May 30. 1922.
Purpose: It is in honor of Mr. Lincoln and is a symbol of unity because President Lincoln led the country to free the slaves.
Description:Made of marble, 5.8 meters tall.The statue was sent to Washington, DC in 28 pieces.
Tourism:Symbolizes union between all 50 states freedom.You can see Mr. Lincoln's speeches.Visual by Emily Fish
- Have the students write a three-paragraph essay on their national landmark to accompany their publisher visual and allow students to be the teacher of their topic by using a projection device or printed copy of the visual.
- Encourage questions from the students related to each national landmark. Record on index cards any questions that could not be answered.
- Request that each presenter follow-up on the unanswered questions (recorded on index cards) and send a letter that pro-vides the answer to the student who originally asked the question. Allow each questioning student to read the reply to the rest of the class in a seminar session.
- Read Capital!: Washington D.C. from A to Z, by Laura Krauss Melmed (HarperCollins, 2003) or Capital by Lynn Curlee (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2002) to the class.
- Divide the class into groups of three or four students. Provide each group with a laminated map of Washington, D. C., sticky dots, and a sheet of landmark names. Conduct a contest to determine which group can mark the map first. (Be sure to delegate duties: sticker per-son, coordinate finder, etc.)
- Play a circle seat quiz. Arrange chairs in a circle with one less chair than students. Students sit in the circle, holding their fact/photo sheets. Set a container of commands in the center of the circle. The student without a chair begins by reading a command. All students whose monument matches the command must move to a different seat. The student in the middle will try to sit in the chair of someone who moved leaving a different student standing. The student left standing reads the next question.
- Move if your landmark is made of marble.
- Move if your landmark existed before 1870.
- Move if your landmark houses a president.
- Move if your landmark helps the government work.