One of my favorite ways to start a new unit is by setting up an interest table. You can set up an interest table with some items like the ones in the picture above. This is set up when students arrive in the morning. There are always a few curious students who notice the interest table as soon as they walk in the classroom.
I tell my class that they will find out later about the items during our social studies lesson. In the meantime, I ask them to see if they can figure out how the items our related. Usually they will look at the outer characteristics first. Do they all have blue on them? Are they all round? Are they made of wood?
Later in the day, when I begin the lesson, I ask volunteers to share their conclusions of how these items are related. Then I give them a clue. CLUE: All of these items are about people.
Put them in small groups and assign each group one of the items from the table. Remind them to check the credibility of their sources if they are using the internet. Did they look at several different sources? Do all the sources give the same date? If not, why do different sources use different dates?
After group research time is over, give your groups time to report their findings.
One of the things I have found with my students when I use this is this interest carries over to home - - - without ANY ASSIGNED HOMEWORK. How great is that?!!!
Students ask if they can add to our interest table with other items about women in history. Of course, I say yes because this is exactly my intention for setting it up in the first place. When students bring in items throughout our unit, I let them have a little time to share their findings. Students researching and continuing their learning at home, isn't that what we all want?
Sometimes because of things beyond you or your students control - students will not add to the interest table. When that happens, you can take a more structured approach. Organize a Historical Show 'n Tell with your class. Take your class to the computer lab, set this up as a center, morning work, or assign this as homework. There is a form that students can use to record their research about a women in history. They can either print a picture or draw a picture about their finding. Let your students share their findings. You can make this into a bulletin board so everyone can learn from each other's research. Afterward, combine these into a class book. I love to make enough class books from units we've studied so each students gets one to take home at the end of the year. These are great keepsakes.
Social studies is one of those subjects that often gets put on the back burner when you have a hectic schedule. This file has activities you can organize as group lessons like the first idea, computer lab lessons, or you can integrate it with your writing lessons.
There is a list of 45 accomplished women. The list includes inventors which is a great way to integrate this with science, African American so you can integrate this with your Black History Month unit, and authors such as J. K. Rowling, E. L. Konigsburg, and Margaret Wise Brown - perfect way to enrich an author study.
Every class I have taught has included a few students that need a little extra support with organization. A research project can be overwhelming to students with A.D.H.D. and / or students with limited organizational skills. I have found a couple of things that help.
The circle pie organizer in the picture above is what I use with students the first time we do a project. In the picture with the sign up list is a research wallet. Students keep their notecards in the different pockets. All students can benefit from using either one of these. After we complete writing our biographies, I hang up their circle pie organizer or research wallet next to the paper. These make great bulletin boards that are interactive.
Timelines are a good tool to use to strengthen sequence. There are colorful signs like the ones hanging in the picture above. There is a template of this sign so students can add to your class timeline. When the unit is over, you can combine the students signs into a class book.
There is also an ink friendly rectangular signs that fit in pocket charts. Students can make their own timeline of multiple events with a printable included.
These are lessons can be taught at any time of the year. Or use these lessons to enrich:
- March is National Women's History Month
- Biography Unit
- Black History Month
I also have another file like this that is called Look Back in History. It is a great way to enrich your 100th Day of School or Black History Month unit. It can also be used at any time of the year.
Research: Look Back in History 100 Years Ago.
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