Sunday, June 6, 2010

NC History ... a digital version?

One of my favorite parts of teaching 4th grade in North Carolina was teaching about the state of NC in Social Studies. What better place to learn about than right where you live? I find the geography, history, and features of NC very interesting, so it was fun for me to teach about it. One of my favorite parts of NC history to teach about includes information about The Lost Colony of Roanoke.
I tried to go beyond the information in the basic textbook when teaching Social Studies When I searched for information about The Lost Colony to share in my 4th grade Social Studies class, I remember struggling to find good information online that was useful for 4th grade.
I have been looking at the
NC History Digital Textbook on LearnNC, and I think I have found a solution to that problem. Although this digital textbook is geared more for secondary students, I think portions of the information can be used with elementary students, especially the images and maps. I also used the Social Studies text as a way to teach many reading skills, especially ones needed for finding and comprehending information in the non-fiction genre. Learning reading skills while investigating history made sense. Information about The Lost Colony is located in the Pre-Colonial (to 1600) section of this digital textbook.
The story of the Lost Colony is a mystery ... still unsolved today. Presenting it that way makes it much more interesting for students (and it really is an unsolved mystery). I think the background and the basic facts of the story can be presented using information from The Lost Colony: A silent "cittie" (this section is towards the bottom of the page). Since the reading level is higher than elementary, this would not be a good section to assign for student independent reading. I see lots of places to stop and ask questions to check for understanding and to provide clues on strategies to use to read nonfiction and informational text (something like the Directed Reading-Thinking Activity strategy could be used). The words that are linked to definitions could also provide good practice for students in using context clues to determine unknown words.
Located near the top of that webpage in is an illustration which could be used at the beginning of the class or lesson to possibly get students predicting what the lesson could be about. Another idea is to use it more towards the end of the lesson for students to use the information learned to create a conversation the two figures could be having. I think using visuals to promote student thinking is a great way to engage students and increase learning.
The next part of the story, The Search for the Lost Colony is one that students particularly enjoy since it is a mystery. The first paragraph on this page provides a great introduction to learning about what possibly happened to these colonists. After reading that paragraph to students, I can see having a good discussion about the information we get from different sources. The three ideas presented here (The Lumbee, A Young Mayde in the Chesapeake, and Two Factions) could be good for a class discussion or project.
Some problem-based or project-based learning could be incorporated to provide a better understanding of what students have learned. The information and links in the Learn More section in the sidebar could be used as things for groups of students to look at and report back to the class. Those areas could also be used for differentiation or for "early finishers" to look at. The related topics that are also listed in the sidebar could be good research or project topics for this lesson. This lesson could be connected with writing by encouraging the students to write about what they think happened to the lost colonists, or another LearnNC idea could be used to encourage the writing of a mystery.
These are just a few ways I came up to be able to use this 8th grade digital textbook for 4th grade. I wonder what else might be possible ....
Here is another post I did on this great resource from LearnNC.

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