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Just Another Speck!

 Students in Miss Kwah’s 3rd Grade class at Union Elementary have been working diligently toward developing an awareness of where they are in relation to the world (and universe!) around them. As part of an ongoing goal to become global learners, these students are thinking, speaking, and creating their own pictures of just what it means to exist on the earth, and they are applying those actions to all of their subject areas.

Students began with a very basic idea: We are on earth, and earth is in space. That being said, they first had to learn what space is all about, and what better way than by going to space? Students learned about the stars and the pictures that they form, the moon and the sun and how they light up our world, and some of the many other planets that exist so much differently than our own. Students followed the moon phases in a daytime snack, explored the planets in an intergalactic (or internet, rather) research challenge, and created their own constellations, composing corresponding stories for anyone else wondering why those little stars shine. According to Keniston Mullis, “The moon phases are really hard to understand when you first get them, but once you get into it, you can tell what your moon is every night!” While a difficult concept, students seemed to really enjoy the learning process in space.

After understanding that there are things far beyond us, students moved toward understanding our earth. We traced out some places around the world that those near to us have traveled to, grasping an understanding that there is much more to the world than North Carolina! To more deeply grasp this idea, we even completed several activities that involved calculating the distances to many of these other places. We also observed a visual presentation about Malaysia, a lesser-known country all the way on the other side of our earth! We even compared its towers to those that our country had once, and discussed variances in those associated lifestyles. Student Chandler Hall noted, “Malaysians live in mansions sometimes and eat different types of food than Americans.” After delving into this country through further research, students were then able to create their own books comparing the two countries, teaching those around them how culture looks different to different people.

In studying another country (and several others, for that matter!), students realized that the land around us can be different depending on where we are. This was a beautiful transition into a study about landforms and waterways, in which students learned about mountains in Asia, deserts in Africa, and lakes and rivers in North America. Natalie Autry pointed out that “[it’s] hard to learn at first but not that bad once you figure it out.” This led to our creation of labeled landform foldables that have added some color to our concept.

Additionally, students were able to track down where their clothing was from to develop an understanding that everything that we know can be from places away from us, and April Gregory noted, “You teach us about global things in Time for Kids, too.” Students look into magazines to find out how kids around the world learn every day.

Finally, students are currently sitting in the notion that location goes far deeper than where your land mass is in the world. They have learned that our continent breaks up into different countries, in which ours breaks up into various states, and then within our state we live in a specific county and then each of us lives in a different area with different streets and different homes. Kyerra Miller-Griffin was glad that “you can learn about places you have never been before” in studying units of this fashion. Through a look at google maps and google earth, students are now more aware that they are but a speck in the grand scheme of things, and, combined with all of the other work that we have done, that every little speck, though essentially still a speck, is entirely different from the next.

Written by: Chelsie Kwah
Posted: Nov 27, 2012 by Ben Shealy

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