Cause and Effect. This is a reading skill the students require to understand the why behind something happening. They make connections that lead to the questions, "What will happen now because of what just occurred?" and think about the consequences of their actions.
I begin this lesson with the question, What are Issues? I use this question because issues are a perfect place from which to pool cause and effect events. After we define, I ask the kids to name some issues taking place at our school. The typical ones come to the surface: "We need better food at lunch; More recess time; Shorter school day" then I focus them on things that are important to parents and teachers, and I get: "Kids do well on tests; Longer school day; Propositions passing or not. I added more info about that, "We hope for more funding for the schools, which means schools need more money- which is why propositions are on the ballot."
After this mini-discussion on issues, I tell them that at the library today, each student will read text on a United States President taken off the President of the United States list and pick an issue of their time to learn more about.
Once in the library, the kids sit at their tables and receive the Cause and Effect: Our President' Issues. On the student examples provided, it reads "Our Presidents' Choices," but once I thought about it, I decided to change to Issues, and that's what is on the resource to download.
In addition to identifying an issue of their President's time, the students will also determine the cause of the incident and the effect it had on the presidency. A final part is for them to write a summary statement about the cause and effect of the situation.
There were books about U.S. Presidents on each table, A helpful series, but they could also head to the Biography section of the library to seek out specific people. I also encouraged internet use for current issues. Students check the White House website for current issues with President Obama. I'd say it was about half and half as to who was satisfied with picking anyone to research, and those who were intent on finding a book about a special President. For example, George Washington, Gerald Ford, James Garfield.
They worked well with the time given, students liked working in the libary and learned about not only a President, but how to navigate through reference books or biographies. Some of them wanted to use personal issues, but I did my best to steer them away from that. One student worked VERY hard on Franklin D. Roosevelt's issue of polio and paralysis, and I didn't notice it until she turned it in. I didn't have the heart to ask her to do it over using an issue from his administration and just feel pleased that she enjoyed the activity and learned so much about this part of his life.
Students shared their findings with others in pairs then we wrote a few of the synopsis' on the Smart Board as a whole group. If anyone deserves to continue to the top, it's Abe Lincoln. This was the next day in the classroom, rather than the library, and there wasn't a lot of time, but I thought it was valuable. I did double duty by having one child put their information onto the Smart Board (it only allows one to write at time,) while another volunteer read his or her writing to the class (See: One student writes, the other presents...saving time).
Presenting information, whatever the activity, is a great chance to bring the kids in front of one another. The Speaking and Listening standard SL.5.4 is a mainstay in my classroom as I have the students present to the class consistently. My belief is that the more they do it, the less inhibited they are.