4th grade ELA : Unit #7 - Mammoth Bones and Broken Stones: The Mystery of North America's First People : Lesson #1

Who Are We? Where Did We Come From?

Objective: SWBAT explain how the first people came North America.
Standards: RI.4.1 RI.4.3
Subject(s): Social Studies English / Language Arts
60 minutes
1 How Did We Get Here? - 5 minutes

In order for my students to understand abstract concepts, they must live it and feel it. Understanding the migration patterns of ancient human beings tens of thousands of years ago is certainly an abstract concept for them!!  The text for this lesson is at Lexile Level 1040 which is a bit above 4th grade, but the text provides such amazing insight to the experience of the ancient people that my 4th graders will love it but they will need scaffolding on many levels.   The anticipation guide is one way to provide support for this awesome text!!

We begin the lesson by gathering together and discussing the question- "How did we get here?"  Not "we" as a classroom- I don't mean did you walk or ride the bus and I also don't mean "From my mom's stomach!"  I tell them that I mean "we" as a people- "we" as Americans. I take suggestions from the students about our appearance on the continent.  

I tell the students that we are going to take a trip (we're always taking trips in our class!!) back to a time when there were no people, no buildings, no cars, no nothing except animals in North America.  After they get over their excitement or confusion as the case may be, I tell them that we are going to complete another anticipation guide but this time the text is 6th grade text!! (Again, waiting for the excitement to die down).  

2 On the "Strait" Path: Finding a Partner - 10 minutes

This strategy is best carried out when students are allowed to choose their own partners.  It sometimes presents a problem when two at- risk readers choose each other, but if that happens, I just sit with them and provide support as necessary.

I pass out the anticipation guide and remind students that they must first read the statements and mark whether or not they agree with each one.  This helps to set a purpose for reading and keeps them engaged in a text that is above their reading level.  I usually read the statements to them and have them mark their opinions independently.

I then have the students stand and make eye contact with and point to the person they would like to be partners with. I will call out Stand Up Hands Up Pair Up (Kagan and Kagan, 2009) and the students move to their partner and high five each other.  Making eye contact first helps to engage the brain and make a connection with the desired partner.  Pointing to the partner helps the students walk a straight line to get there. 


3 Crossing the Bridge: Completing the Anticipation Guide - 20 minutes

Once students are partnered, they receive instructions to read the text and look for the statements.  After finding a statement, they are to mark the page number from the text and fill in the column for "Were you right?"  At this point, the students will try to change their answers from the Agree/ Disagree column, but I remind them that the point is not to be right, it is to see how accurate their predictions were.  They may not change their original Agree/ Disagree answer.  

I monitor facilitate the rest of the discussion and monitor the groups as they work.

4 Next Stop: Reflect - 20 minutes

Gathering the students back together, I put the text under the Elmo and ask students to have their text in front of them. This is a sneaky way to have them read the text again with the support of a fluent reader to aid in comprehension.

I tell the students that I will need help finding the statements and to please call out when we've found one.  As I read the text to them, they should follow along and when they call out, I stop. On my copy of the anticipation guide, I record the page number then I move to the reflect column.  If the statement is false, I have the students help me craft the correct statement and they copy it onto their anticipation guides.  If the statement is true, we copy the statement again.


Reflection: Information Overload!!
Complex Tasks

I love this book and I love the anticipation guide but I've never used them together until this year. If I could go back and redo one thing in this lesson, it would be to save the reflection for the next day. The students had just made predictions, grappled with difficult text and checked their predictions and then I asked them to read through the text with me to reflect.  It was a bit too much.  I think the students would have gotten more from the actual reflections and changing their misconceptions had we waited and done that part the next day.  

I guess the lesson here is to monitor the information the students are processing at a time and break lessons up into manageable pieces so as to build connections for them and not overwhelm them.  

5 Last Stop: Exit Ticket - 10 minutes

After the reflections are completed, I instruct the students to put their anticipation guide into their social studies notebooks since that's where we'll need it next and hand out the exit ticket. The exit ticket requires students to explain how the first people came to Native America.  Even though they have to "explain" the process, I know they will only write a few sentences which will lead us to another lesson on another day!!