This might be the longest I have gone without blogging. This school year is actually going really well. I am enjoying my students this year so much! The second year of doing something is hands down ten times better than the first year. Last year was my first year to teach a grades 4-5 class in a blended learning environment, where we combine technology and teacher interaction to meet the needs of our students. It was also our first year last year to have any elementary grades at our school. There was so much to figure out from schedule to curriculum to identifying what blended learning looks like for elementary students at different phases. This year I have been able to learn from my experiences last year and start off the year with more consistency in schedule and curriculum.
I decided this year to pursue my PhD in Gifted Education part-time while working. While I am really glad to be able to give my students more consistency this year and watch them thrive with it, I am struggling with it myself. Once again that whole issue of balance comes into play. I am trying to sort out my own schedule and routine for work, lesson planning and grading, going to class for grad school, studying for class and doing assignments, working out, eating better, being married, cleaning, etc. Almost all of my students have had a cold or a stomach bug in the last couple weeks. I woke up with the cold last Wednesday and have been fighting it. I slept most of the weekend. Anyway, I apologize if my blogging lacks the consistency I usually strive for, but I will do my best.
One of my favorite resources I discovered recently was a website called Commoncore.org. I mentioned it before. They have curriculum maps for Social Studies and ELA. I am loving the curriculum maps for US. History. It is making it so much easier for me to choose texts to incorporate Social Studies into Language Arts.
We started the year reading The Discovery of the Americas by Betsy and Giulio Maestro.
This kicked off our study on Native Americans. It was a good introduction because it discusses the land bridge between Asia and America and mentions tribes across both of the Americas. We learned about Aztec, Inca, and Mayans first by doing some research on the following website:
Then, we learned about the tribes of the four major regions in North America. In Language Arts, we have been working on plot and theme. I decided to incorporate some Native American folk tales into our discussions.
We read several folk tales from The Girl Who Helped Thunder.
This book works really well as a read aloud when studying Native Americans. It divides North America into 6 regions and has 3 tales for each region. Each tale is 2-3 pages. Each story has an obvious theme, so they make a great short read aloud to review over character, setting, events, problem, solution, and theme. We also discussed what we knew about each tribe based on the story. We could infer information about their values, the types of homes they lived in, the climate, what they ate, etc.
Last week we discussed conflict and the difference between external and internal conflict. We made mini-anchor charts to show our thinking about conflict.
Then, my students read different Native American folk tales and made a chart to identify the characters, setting, problem, external conflict examples, internal conflict examples, solution, and theme to the story they read. Then we shared as a group.
What are your favorite texts to read when studying Native Americans? This week we are starting our Explorer unit. I will share more of those texts in another post.