Lets Write About Our Travels

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SWBAT...create a journal entry about an early explorers motives and experiences while traveling to the New World.

Big Idea

We can research to appreciate others contributions to our countries history.

Creating the Purpose

5 minutes

I like to open with a question to get them wondering in the direction I am going with the lesson by asking - What does it take for someone to get in your history book?  

Take responses and then summarize them by saying that they need to do something remarkable or noteworthy that affects our lives in the past and in the present. Don't give up here! Now that you have their attention -

Ask - Are people still getting written about today in History textbooks?" If so - ask who? If not - ask why? are you sure?  You can even give a copyright lesson here by having them search for the date the book was published.

This is where, even though it's a bit off of my topic I like to bring up our President Obama and ask them if they think he will be in the history textbooks in a few years as our first African American President. Let them talk but then reign them back in so you can get to the objective of the lesson!

Now tell them that today we are going to choose our favorite explorer and share what we have learned about his adventures by "becoming this explorer" and writing a journal entry about a day in his life. You will write from his perspective and give your first hand account of your adventures discovering the Americas. 

Guiding the Learning

15 minutes

In this section I model what a typical day would be like for my explorer by first choosing one I like, Robert de La Salle. I then read the text to the third paragraph when he returns from his trip down the Mississippi to find the fort abandoned and burned down. I get that excited look in my eyes and tell them that this would be a great story to tell because of the excitement in the events that happen. I also talk about how we need to outline the sequence of events but can add details to them to make them exciting for the reader as long as I do not change the details as they are written in the passage.

I model how to use the graphic organizer to sequence the events to think aloud about the text words that are explicitly written and what I feel they are stating  - asking "how could we say this in "kid friendly language" or "what happened in this section" to get my students to discuss what's happening in the passages. To have the ability top take the perspective of the explorer they need to reread the passages and discuss what happened - both the good and the bad. This builds the suspense and problem - solution format of their writing that will help them to recreate the drama in their journal writing.  

After I ask students to chose an explorer, they are instructed that they will now write one or more journal entries in their explorer's point of view. I model starting my piece with excitement about all the about their explorer’s experiences and motivations. I write in the sequence of events "text words" boxes:

"They traveled across land to Lake Michigan...paddling in canoes" 

"Returning (to the fort at Niagara) they discovered that the Griffon was lost

"The fort at Niagara had burned down"

"Many men had deserted their posts, robbing supply stores"

As a class we add details to our own summarized versions in the "my words" boxes - (traveled in a large, wooden canoe paddling with oars on a cold windy lake) 

I do my think aloud first and then student details as we move along (quicker task) until we have completed the chart and students have shown understanding of the task

These are some suggested changes I made to the lesson to help with the independent work section completion


Independent Practice

15 minutes

Students now get to choose their explorers and complete a sequence of events chart. I check these for completion and correct information and explicit text language before they can write their journal entries. I also give small lessons on using quotation marks/ plagarism for those who have forgotten this because this is a great opportunity to teach these skills used in their research writing lessons. (always looking for teachable moments)

As soon as their approved and ready I have them write their journal entries on my good sample to show how to write entries with dates and daily logs. 

Closing the Loop

5 minutes

We close by calling on students to share their reading - but with an added component of fun. Those who are chosen get to place a colored string from the explorers sponsor country to the first place landed on in the new world (you may need to help them locate the smaller islands or unfamiliar places on the map. (Each explorer has a different colored string and is identified with a small picture on the area he discovered) I have a large cultural map in my class that we used for this so that students could identify with an explorer coming from their own heritage, but any large map would do.

Then they get to sit in the reader's chair and share their journal entries with their peers - if you have extra time, have them take 2-3 questions from their audience and have them respond as though they were the explorer being questioned.  

If your short on time, pull sticks and partner students to share stories with a peer.

These stories can also be saved and shared in a American History Journal if you want to add a journaling component to the end of each of your units. I've done this before and have had my students add a creative component to the opposite page. For this one we had a smaller replica of the map used in this time period with the exploration routes colored on it.