We are now gaining some momentum in our Writer’s Workshop. Students have been enthusiastic with their independent, free-writing. Now we are beginning to introduce some mini-lessons that have students thinking of various skills or tools that they can incorporate into their writing. The first topic that we have looked at is descriptive writing using “show rather than tell”. Student’s engaged in acting out various emotions including: anger, sadness, joy… and then recorded what those emotions looked like. So, instead of telling the reader, “Bobby was angry.” students are now developing thoughts such as, “With jaw clenched firmly, Bobby stormed into the room and threw his backpack upon the floor.” To practice this skill, we will have students changing skeleton sentences into descriptive sentences with elaborative details. We will also have students brainstorming to come up with effective adjectives, adverbs and strong verbs to emphasize various emotions.
We have begun looking at the five factors involved in the study of geography: Location, Region, Movement, Place, and Human Environmental Interaction. We focused on the concept of “place” with the settlement discussions and activities that students undertook prior to and during the Camp Sweet settlement project.
We delved further into the location factor by locating and following the current storms associated with this year’s Atlantic and Pacific hurricanes. The students had the opportunity to plot the changing coordinates of the many storms that existed in the oceans that further solidified their knowledge of absolute geographical coordinates using latitude and longitude. As a result, we may have even seen a passion for meteorology developing in some students.
We will be winding up this unit with a review and quiz by the first part of the week of September23rd. 5.3 and 5.4 will have this unit test on September 19th.
Camp Sweet was a hit this year, as we embarked on a new activity called "Settlers of Camp Sweet". Leading up to camp, we had discussions in the classroom about factors that influence the location of settlements. Things discussed include: Defensive factors, Route focus factors (where rivers and valleys meet), Natural Harbours, Bridging Points (narrow or shallow places where rivers are easily crossed), Location near natural resources, and areas protected from natural hazards (Eg. Floods, strong winds). We also looked at a video series entitled “We Built This City”. In three segments, an excellent overview was presented in regards to the triumphs and challenges faced by Paris, London and New York as they developed into the cities that they are today.
Just prior to leaving for camp, students worked collaboratively in groups to choose an area (50mx50m) of Camp Sweet that they saw as desirable to develop a settlement with a population of 250 people in the year 1913. This was done by using Google Earth to view the property remotely. Upon arriving at camp, groups charged out on to the land to "stake their claims". Once at the site, students evaluated their surroundings and discussed how the land would help meet their needs. Busily, students then constructed five projects on their land that they saw as necessary to establish in their settlement prior to the arrival of the first winter. Some example projects that we saw included: Land cleared for cultivation, pens for livestock, trading post, mine, water tower, communal shelter, irrigation ditch, fort, lumber mill and other insightful ideas. It was very interesting to see how the students so readily and naturally fell into a trade network with neighbouring settlements. This was not initially an intended consequence that we foresaw. We knew that this was a successful activity when students asked us during free time to continue working on their settlements.
On the final day of camp, students were then challenged with a sandbox activity. This required them to scale down their 50m x 50m to 1m x 1m. Students were very creative in their use of natural items to craft a miniature represention of their settlement.