This is a social studies based lesson plan that I created and conducted with a third grade class in a field placement. It entails the details of the lesson, which focused around early, world explorers, and the subsequent reflection of the lesson after it was performed in the classroom.
Early ‘New World’ Explorers
- Students will gain a better understanding of the four major explorers to discover North America, where each explored, their purpose for exploring, and who sponsored their exploring.
- SOL: 3.5 The student will develop map skills by
- a) positioning and labeling the seven continents and five oceans to create a world map;
- b) using the equator and prime meridian to identify the Northern, Southern, Eastern, and Western Hemispheres;
- c) locating the countries of Spain, England, and France;
- d) locating the regions in the Americas explored by Christopher Columbus (San Salvador in the Bahamas), Juan Ponce de León (near St. Augustine, Florida), Jacques Cartier (near Quebec, Canada), and Christopher Newport (Jamestown, Virginia);
- e) locating specific places, using a simple letter-number grid system.
- NCSS: II, Time, Continuity, & Change – Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of the ways human beings view themselves in and over time, so that the learner can:
- demonstrate an understanding that people in different times and places view the world differently;
- The third-grade students will be able to correctly fill in information about the major ideas and accomplishments of each of the four explorers, Columbus, Cartier, Newport, and Ponce de Leon, given a worksheet and a prior class review with a word web with eighty five percent accuracy.
- Begin the lesson by proposing a situation to the students. Tell them that they are going to be the teachers and that you are going to be the student for the first activity.
- Write the word ‘Explorers’ up on the board and tell the class that they are going to teach you all that they know about the four, early explorers, Ponce De Leon, Cartier, Newport, and Columbus, in the form of a word web (book strategy).
- Have them pull out their social studies notebooks and tell them that they should also record the word web as well.
- Give students a few moments to think before having them raise their hands and share their knowledge with you.
- Record what they say in little bubbles connected to the original word by lines, it should resemble of web of sorts, and be sure to prompt them about who, where, and why.
- Once finished, go over the information and allow students time to copy down the word web in their own social studies notebooks.
- Leave the word web up and continue the lesson.
- Pass out the explorers worksheets, one per student. While you pass the paper out, have students turn and talk with a tablemate about who they think was the most important explorer.
- Once everyone has a worksheet, go over with the class each area and explain that for each explorer they need to fill in:
- The region they explored
- The country that sponsored them
- Why they began to explore/ their motivation
- What they accomplished/ are known for
- And draw a picture of how they think the explorer looked
- Allow students time to work and remind them that this is an individual assignment. You want to know what everyone knows.
- Be sure to walk around as the students work to help gauge how much time they need, and to help answers any questions that might come up.
- When they have finished, have them hold onto their worksheets.
- When all students are finished with their worksheets, go over the information as a class and have the students help you go through each of the different boxes/ information areas. Collect the worksheets when finished reviewing the information.
- (See attached, completed worksheet for key)
- Return to the word web and asking the class, your teachers, if there is anything else that they would like to add to the web or if there is anything that they think might be missing from it.
- Record any answers that they might give, go over it for everyone to hear.
- And finally, end the lesson by holding a wrap up discussion. Ask the students to think about, for just a moment, who they think is the most important explorer and why.
- Have them share by raising their hands. Once you have taken a few, thank the class for their insight and wrap up the lesson for the day.
- Auditory and visual learners will be supported through the word web activity as they can listen and see the different ideas and concepts that relate to the word ‘Explorers’.
- Kinesthetic learners will have support through the explorers worksheet as they are able to freely manipulate and complete it on their own.
- Students who finish the worksheet early can think about who is the most important explore and why.
- Students who finish early can consider what they think they might add to the word web.
- Students who are struggling can have teacher assistance or use their notes to help them.
- Access to white board
- Dry erase markers
- Explorer worksheet key
- Explorer worksheet rubrics *Optional to make activity graded assessment*
- Coloring utensils *Optional*
- Explorer worksheet
- Social studies folder
- Students will be evaluated and learning will be assessed based on whether or not they have correctly and completely filled in the appropriate information on their explorers worksheet with eighty five percent accuracy, or by scoring at least thirty four of forty points.
Evaluation B and Reflection
My social studies focused lesson in my practicum class went well over all. The students were engaged and able to complete the lesson. The students were also able to meet the objectives that I set for them. I know this because the students were able to accurately complete the information about the four main explorers on the worksheet, given time, and were able to then lead me through going over the worksheet afterwards. I also know they met my objectives based on how the students scored with their work on the explorers worksheet based on the requirements listed in the rubric. The students that I graded scored higher than the required thirty four of forty points or eighty five percent for accuracy. Overall, my students performed well, and I think that my lesson helped them to do so because it tried to accommodate the needs of my learners.
With my lesson plan, I tried to accommodate for all different types of learners, as well as, account for the different students in my practicum class. The students had visual and auditory support through the first task, which was a class led word web exploring what they knew already about the four major explorers. Students were able to listen to and hear their classmates, and myself, as they described the different people, what they did, and why they did such. At the same time, visual learners were able to look at the word web on the board and see through written language and the connecting diagrams what each explorer did and how they related or differed from one another. Visual learners also had support with the drawing aspect of the worksheet, with which they could try and visualize their own representation for the information about a man they have never met. The worksheet also doubled as an aid for kinesthetic learners. It was a physical piece of paper that they could manipulate and work on while physically touching it. My class is one that very talkative and so I tried to also take that into account when planning my lesson by incorporating a lot of parts that got them either talking to the class or to tablemates about the activity. Talking can be hard to maintain with them and so I feel creating productive chatter is more beneficial for them. Of course, there are more areas I am sure could be expanded on to help cater even better to student needs, but I did my best to try and accommodate the essentials for my practicum class.
Some of, in my opinion, best strengths during the lesson were keeping the class engaged as well as on pace with the day. I did my best to be energetic and interested in the material as we talked and worked through it during the lesson, and that energy was reflected in the way that my students also kept interest and were eager to participate. Even when I knew students were unsure about something, based on their look or how their hand would go up and down as I asked a question, they were still willing to answer and share their ideas with me. I was able to keep my students engaged, as well as make sure that they were comfortable to take risks and get their ideas out. I was also able to make sure that I completely finished my lesson while still leaving enough time for the test that they had right afterwards. We went through all of the steps in the lesson and everyone was able to keep up, though they did need some gentle pushing to finish their worksheets and stop talking so much during that activity. It worked though and I was able to make sure everything that needed to be done was done.
On the other hand, I also had some weaknesses to my lesson. One of the most apparent is that I underestimated how long it might take to have students copy down the word web completely from scratch, which is also something that my practicum teacher mentioned in my feedback form. It took away a bit of time as well as focus from students as they tried to write and pay attention to what was being shared. Aside from that, I also had some moments, as mentioned before, about having to remind the students to keep working and not talk so much. This was most apparent during the worksheet activity. Again, this is something that my teacher noted on my feedback form, and we talked about afterwards because this class is rather chatty though with the best intentions. Aside from those however, there were no really jarring instances in which I felt I could have done better, a few minor things, but nothing too major.
But despite not having too many weaknesses with my lesson, there is always room for improvement. Given the chance to teach it again, I would try to change a few things. For one, I would make sure to come up with a blank word web that I could pass out to students to help them better be able to fill it in. This would hopefully help to cut down the time it took, as well as help students to keep focus on what is being said, as well as help me to make sure the content on the board is organized in an easy to understand way for the students. I would also try and incorporate more instances in which students would spend more time talking about the subject. I think that perhaps using prompting questions for them to think about as they worked on the worksheet would help them to generate even more productive talk. I could also set exact time limits and keep a timer on me to let them know they should such and such part of the worksheet done at this time. This would help to even better manage time and make sure students are on task with what they need to do. I am sure with more thought, I could come up with my ideas on what I would like to change, but here are a few of the big things I feel would help to make the lesson better over all for the students and their learning.
On a more personal note, I have to say that going into the lesson, I was rather weary. I was not afraid of my students or the lesson itself, but I had not been feeling well at all the whole week and knew that I was losing my voice the day I was scheduled to teach it. Still though, I was eager to get it done and pushed through. I am happy that I did as well. Of course, there were a few instances in which my voice cracked or gave out completely, but my students were extremely understanding and even supported me to continue despite of it. It was very endearing and I feel as though I really am a part of their classroom family. My students definitely enjoyed the lesson and were happy to have it before their test, as a few of them mentioned what we talked about helped them remember things for some questions afterwards. I am simply happy and a little bit proud that I was able to engage and help students learn and reinforce ideas that are important to their education.
My lesson itself went as planned. Like I mentioned, I was able to complete everything and my students were as well. But, I did have something unexpected happen later in the day after I gave my lesson. My students were supposed to have an activity using their netbooks in the afternoon. However, the program with the activity was not working and so my teacher, in a bit of a frenzy, tried to fix it. This left me a chance to pull out a project I had been making in another class, the art class, that purposefully tied into my social studies lesson and use it in an interactive activity with my class. It worked as a sort of extension to my lesson from earlier in the day. I had made a cube with each of the different explorers names on the sides, and two free pick sides, using a 3D printer. I showed it to the class and we were able to play a class wide game of explorer hot potato, in which the students tossed the cube to one another and had to tell us something they knew about the explorer that they got. It was fun and a great kinesthetic activity to get the kids moving and manipulating something that was not paper that related to explorers. My teacher was thrilled to have an activity like that, and I was so happy that I was able to share it with them, that I ended up offering for the class to keep the cube. They happy accepted. Needless to say, I do not regret letting my class keep the cube, and I am extremely excited to try and print even more artifacts that I could use for more activities in the classroom to help expand student learning.