Grades 5 and 6 social studies in Ohio: Dilemma or Opportunity?

Grades 5 and 6 Social Studies in Ohio: Dilemma or Opportunity?

What instructional approach are you considering using with grades 5 and 6 social studies? It appears teachers and school districts alike are struggling with this.

I think a great place to start would be to identify skills statements within each of the four strands, and then pair them with content you deem most appropriate. Don’t forget to check out the Expectations for Learning for each of the statements to find out what your students need to know and be able to do.

Here’s one idea:

Grade 5: Regions and People of the Western Hemisphere

Spatial Thinking and Skills

Content Statement 4: Globes and other geographic tools can be used to gather, process and report information about people, places and environments. Cartographers decide which information to include on maps.

Expectation for Learning: Use appropriate maps, globes and geographic tools to gather, process and report information about people, place and environments.

Places and Regions

Content Statement 6: Regions can be determined using various criteria (e.g., landform, climate, population, cultural or economic).

 

Expectation for Learning: Identify and describe regions within the Western Hemisphere using criteria related to landform, climate, population, culture and economics.

In this pairing, students use globes and other geographic tools to gather and report information about people, places and environments in the Western Hemisphere and use specific criteria to identify and describe them.

Grade 6: Regions and People of the Eastern Hemisphere

Spatial Thinking and Skills

Content Statement 3: Globes and other geographic tools can be used to gather, process and report information about people, places and environments. Cartographers decide which information to include and how it is to be displayed.

 

Expectation for Learning:

  • Use appropriate maps, globes and geographic tools to gather, process and report information about people, place and environments.
  • Understand that maps were created for specific purposes and represent the context in which they were created.

 

Places and Regions

Content Statement 5: Globes and other geographic tools can be used to gather, process and report information about people, places and environments. Cartographers decide which information to include and how it is to be displayed.

 

Expectation for Learning: Use various criteria to describe, classify and compare regions within the Eastern Hemisphere.

In this pairing, students use globes and other geographic tools to gather and report about people, places and environments in the Eastern Hemisphere and use various criteria to describe, classify and compare these regions. As they work with these tools, students begin to understand that maps are created for specific purposes and that the role of the mapmaker is to select the information to display and decide how it is displayed.

This content might be most appropriate for early in the year when students are being introduced to the hemispheres. Have students use maps, globes, diagrams and aerial or other photographs and provide them opportunities to practice using these tools to gather, process and report information about each region. Building skills with these specific tools prepares them well for work with GIS, GPS and RS in later grades and they are representative of some of the 21st century tools for geography.

I know of three resources you will find very useful as you consider these themes and others:

http://www.gapminder.org/

Gapminder is used in classrooms around the world to build a fact-based worldview. With this resource, data related to world trends can be charted, compared and analyzed. Students and teachers can use Gapminder World without the Internet by installing the Gapminder Desktop, which updates automatically. Graphs can also be created and saved.

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/

The World Factbook provides information on the history, people, government, economy, geography, communications, and transportation, military, and transnational issues for 267 world entities. The site features maps of major world regions, flags of the world, physical and political maps and a standard time zone world map.

http://education.nationalgeographic.com/education/?ar_a=1

The new beta site for National Geographic Education features teacher resources, abundant multimedia, mapping applications, reference and news resources and educational programs for both teachers and students.

While you’re on the National Geographic site be sure to check out this introduction to geographic literacy.

Do let me know if you’re able to use this framework in your classroom or want to share other strategies. I’d love to hear!

Virginia

Founding Documents: Northwest Ordinance and U.S. Bill of Rights

Foundational Documents: reading activities for grades 4 and 8 and the Northwest Ordinance and the Bill of Rights

With the Ohio General Assembly’s recent passage of Amended Substitute Senate Bill 165, content related to the original texts of the Declaration of Independence, the Northwest Ordinance, the Constitution of the United States and its amendments, (emphasizing the Bill of Rights) and the Ohio Constitution is now included in grades 4-12 social studies. Concomitantly, Appendix B: Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies grades 6-12 include content related to reading and suggests that ” students must be able to read complex informational texts in these fields with independence and confidence because the vast majority of reading in college and workforce training programs will be sophisticated nonfiction”. ELA common core standards documents note that these standards are intended to complement and not replace specific content within the social studies discipline. They also explain that K-5 reading and writing standards are integrated within the ELA standards at those grade levels.

Social studies teachers across Ohio are wondering about the implications for instruction. Are students in grades 4 and 8 capable of understanding what’s written in documents that were written two hundred years ago? Understanding the language found in documents from this time period does represent a significant challenge for students. Are there specific teaching strategies that can help?

Neil Duke and P. David Pearson suggest “good readers try to determine the meaning of unfamiliar words and concepts in the text…” and that they “construct, revise and question the meanings they make as they read”. The two unit plans that appear below address those skills. It’s important to point out that the plans were drafted from the perspective of the social studies discipline with careful consideration of the social studies content.

Common Core ELA standards include a core unit entitled: A Close Reading of the Gettysburg Address for high school students. The writers felt that this particular speech was the perfect text for close reading. Ohio’s legislatively mandated reading of the foundational documents may not be ideal texts for the close reading process, but I chose to modify the process somewhat for use with the Northwest Ordinance in Grade 4 and the Bill of Rights in Grade 8. Notice that in both plans the social studies content is paired with Reading Informational Text standards from Common Core ELA.

Let’s begin with grade 4, considering content statement 5:

The Northwest Ordinance established a process for the creation of new states and specified democratic ideals to be incorporated in the states of the Northwest Territory.

Fourth grade students need to be able to explain the process by which Ohio progressed from territory to statehood and how the Northwest Ordinance influenced the inclusion of democratic ideals in the states formed from the Northwest Territory. While students in grade four would be hard pressed to understand the entire document, excerpts from the original text can help students understand the process of becoming a new state as well as the democratic processes it promoted. The review of the original text of the Northwest Ordinance reveals that Section 14, Articles 1,3,5 and 6 relate to that content.

Below is a unit plan that features a modified close- reading of the Northwest Ordinance. The News Flash assessment aligns with the Expectation for Learning for content statement 5, that requires students to explain how Ohio progressed from territory to statehood and how the Northwest Ordinance influenced the incorporation of democratic ideals in the states that were formed from the Northwest Territory.

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For grade 8, let’s consider content statement 21:

The U.S. Constitution protects citizens’ rights by limiting the powers of government.

As students examine the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution (the Bill of Rights) its important that they understand the rights it guarantees citizens as well as the limitations that were placed on the government. Students will undoubtedly encounter unfamiliar words as they read through the amendments, so once again, the unit incorporates students constructing, revising and questioning the meaning of words as they read.

The unit plan below features a middle school modified close reading activity with the Bill of Rights. Notice the scaffolding of skills involved in the process and also the variety of ways that the students interact with the text. Notice also that the assessment, the Rights Poster, aligns with the expectation for learning for the content statement.

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Resources:

Effective Practices for Developing Reading Comprehension, Neil K. Duke and P. David Pearson, Scholastic Red 2002.

Common Core English Language Arts Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies