I introduced this lesson by hooking scholars with the song "This Land is Your Land." I played it several times and encouraged them to sing along with the words I provided. I showed them the Gulf of Mexico on a map and asked them what they think a redwood is. I explained that redwood trees are presently some of the tallest trees and they are commonly found in California. I showed them where the states of California and New York are on a map. As you can see, this is a prime opportunity to incorporate a cross-curricular geography and social studies connection with this lesson. We then focused our attention on the chorus of the song. I explained that many times an author of a song or poem uses the chorus to relay themes. A theme is simply a recurring big idea. I asked scholars to help me to brainstorm different things of which the author speaks in the song. Generally, the things they list can be classified into either "geography" or "freedom." So, that's what we choose to head a T-chart of the list of things.
Scholars rotated in 3 literacy centers: Art - Draw a picture of what you might see if you walked across the United States, Social Studies - Make a list of as many people, places, and things as you can that you might see if you walked across the United States, Writing - Write another verse that you could add on to the song "This Land is Your Land." I selected these literacy centers because I wanted to infuse artistic expression in the lesson, I wanted to make a cross-curricular connection to social studies, and I wanted to include creative writing in the lesson. I have found use of artistic expression as a means of making a deeper connection with students to real world experiences. Also, research has shown integration of art modalities establishes focus and engagement upon entry for the students.
To close the lesson, I had students to reflect upon a beautiful sight they have seen as they have traveled across the U.S.A. and complete a concept map graphic organizer listing the sight in the middle and descriptive words around it. I, then, asked them to draw a conclusion about how the songwriter of "This Land is Your Land" feels about the U.S.A. and orally explain how they know.