So today is Tuesday, which means it is my second "Tons of History Tuesday." I went to the library last night right before they closed and grabbed stacks and stacks of books on the fly to find something I wanted to review for this week. Then, today while blog-stalking I found a better source of inspiration.
While reflecting this weekend on the History topics I wanted to cover for the next few weeks, I decided I wanted to cover some of the things I consider to be a good foundation. Most state standards for Science and Social Studies will encompass things like covering natural resources, landforms, and the way people adapt to their environments. Four years ago when I first started covering US History, I found myself frustrated when my students were not grasping much of the information we were covering. It took awhile, but I finally realized it was because they lacked the basic foundation they needed to be successful with US History. You need a solid foundation on skills like basic geography, understanding that natural resources and climate affect the way people adapt and survive, and concepts like point of view and timelines. So my goal over the next few weeks is to find texts to share with you targeted at some of these foundational social studies skills.
Today I saw that Lynn at Inside this Book was sharing a book called Encounter by Jane Yolen. The AR book level is 4.2. I have not read the book yet, but I am excited to read it. I enjoy Jane Yolen's books. The book is about Christopher Columbus' encounter with the Taino Indians and is told from the perspective of a young Taino boy. Lynn shared this book as a way to teach voice; however, I was intrigued with the story because of the ability to teach point-of-view.
Point of view is an important concept. Children often think of things as black and white...right and wrong...good guys and bad guys. Unfortunately, History is more gray. There are always two sides and two points of views. I always explained point of view as the way we understand the world. Things that affect our point-of-view are gender, age, culture, language, country of origin, religion, family situation, and even interests. Imagine the differences between Columbus and the young Taino boy.
Point-of-view is a great concept to introduce the writing strategy RAFT, which stands for Role, Audience, Format, and Topic. The role of the narrator is their point of view. What if you had the students write from Columbus' point of view instead of that of the Taino boy? What if you also used RAFT to discuss things you read as a way to work on "Read like a writer and write like a reader?"
A great realistic fiction text to discuss point of view is The Pain and the Great One by Judy Blume. The AR book level for this book is 3.1 The book is about a brother and sister who have very different points of view of each other and their parents. This would be a great text to pair with Encounter though because having a sibling is something many students can immediately relate to. Point of view is also a topic students who are originally from another country should be able to relate to.
I usually end the discussion of point of view with having students analyze what things shape their own point of view of the world. I had a 5th grade student at the beginning of last year who used the metaphor of a computer to explain his point of view of the world.
If you can't read it very well, it says:
My point of view is... well I like to compare my point of view with a computer. Full of many icons. It is very big that I am always thinking of random things. Talking with a friend and thinking about the moon. Taking a picture and thinking of birds. People also say how I'm too smart for my age.
I can relate on so many levels to a brain that wanders and multi-tasks. Don't forget about my giveaway below for my teacher binder covers and calendars. It is going until Thursday.