Sunday, February 21, 2016

Anasazi, Native Americans, and Explorers OH MY

    As we navigate through our study of Non Fiction reading and writing, amazing things have been happening.  Kids are reading, researching, inquiring, and writing everything non fiction.  Conversations have gone deeper and deeper, discourse is alive and well, and, best of all, engagement is higher than I ever dreamed possible.  I've even won over my naysayers who thought they would "always hate non fiction."

    We began with learning about the Early Coloradans via reading a variety of texts on the same topic.  Small groups formed and pulled out the main idea and supporting ideas from these articles and created a poster to "teach" their learning to the rest of the class.  During these presentations, students took notes and discussed what new learning they took away, as well as conflicting data, etc.  One group had captioned a photo of a Native Americans "Here's a picture of the Anasazi".  Another student pointed out, there were no cameras during the time of the Anasazi so how could there be a photo of them.  From there we had a discussion about verifying facts within non fiction.

    When conflicting data was encountered, students discussed the possibility of "theories" being presented because there was no way to prove what happened.

   From the small group activity, we moved into individual research.  I created a padlet full of kid friendly resources focusing on the early residents of Colorado.  The kids spent a full 45 minutes their first day delving into these resources.  Engagement was high and the process of synthesizing and inquiry were fully evident.  From there, we did a mini lesson focused around thesis statements versus topic sentences.  We took a stab at writing what we had learned in the format most comfortable to them.  I got a variety of writing including:  Informative essays, Journal entries, and non fiction paragraphs.  A couple of the kids even incorporated poetry!  Overall, I was impressed with their work.

   Now we have moved into Trappers and Traders in our area of study.  Once again, we started with non fiction texts (only this time we focused on one article).  First, students read the article with different levels of support, and annotated the text as they read.  We came back together and discussed what they were wondering.  From their questions, we began to work on "What kind of a question is one that can be researched?"  This was tough at first, but as we worked on it over the next few days became quite clear.  Questions moved from "Why did they name Colorado "the color red"?  to "I wonder what the people saw when they came to Colorado before anything was built?  Did the land and landforms look the same as they do now?"

   We did another group project with the article in a jigsaw format.  Each group identified the main idea and supporting details of each section.  They recorded their information on a jigsaw piece and then put the puzzle together.  I loved watching them make connections to how things changed when explorers began interacting with the Native Americans.  This week they will delve into a new padlet of Trader and Trappers resources...I'll keep you posted on how it goes.

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