Sunday, November 16, 2014

Ways Students are Actively Using Maps during our Informational Writing Unit

During our informational writing unit, students are writing about an explorer they selected to become an "expert" on during the first bend of the unit.  In this first informational writing piece, students have been taught the following teaching points: 

In addition to those key teaching points, I have also taught them how to use maps to truly understand where their explorer traveled on their voyages, which routes they took, and what they were in search of discovering.  Since Melanie Meehan and I have been trying to get students actively involved in this unit through inquiry lessons and hands-on experiences, I decided to have partnerships work together to mark the voyages/routes on large maps using post-its and string. I asked students to choose a partner who is studying the same explorer and to take one map per partnership. With their partner, they were asked to use post-its and/or string to mark and label their explorers voyages and routes on their map.  I also told them they needed to be ready to share their maps with their classmates in a gallery walk the next day and be prepared to explain their markings/labels.  

Below are photos of partnerships working together to mark their explorer's voyages/routes on their maps.  As you can see, students took out books, chrome books, and their notes as resources to help them with this task.  They discovered they needed these resources on their own.  As partnerships saw others taking out and using various resources, that sparked other students to utilize resources too! 

After students completed the task of marking the voyages/routes on their map, students shared their work in a "Gallery Walk." Partnerships went around the classroom, armed with their notebooks to take notes, looking at their classmates' marked maps. As students looked at and analyzed the maps, students jotted down their observations and questions they had for their classmates.  Below are photos of students taking notes during the gallery walk.

After the gallery walk, I gathered students together to provide them with the opportunity to honor their classmates' work as well as ask questions of parts that may have been unclear on the maps.  This was a powerful share since students had to internalize the information in order to teach their classmates about their explorer's voyages as well as reflect on and revise their maps based on their classmates' questions and feedback.  

This partnership work with the maps was a perfect segue into our next lesson on using geography words in our informational writing, which was the first time we tried a flipped lesson! Stay tuned to hear about that lesson next! 

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