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Globalization: The Roots of our Ancestors

Mrs. Danyah Hill’s 5th grade class has researched the countries that the students’ ancestors immigrated from to the United States as part of an integrated project. Initially, the students spent 3 days with the media coordinator, Mrs. Jennifer Williams, learning how to research and cite sources. After their research was complete, the students began work on several related projects. In writing, the students created an informational research paper on reasons for immigration to the United States. In Social Studies, the students created a PowerPoint presentation focusing on the country their ancestors immigrated from. For an art project, students created the flag from the country they studied out of construction paper. As a connection to a previously taught science unit, students compared weather patterns from other countries to the local weather patterns. For math, the students tasted foods from each of their countries then graphed their favorite. The students also used the data to create fraction word problems for the class to solve. During the daily read-aloud students enjoyed listening to Extra Credit by Andrew Clements, which is a text about two pen pals, one from America and one from Afghanistan. The unit culminated by labeling the class with vocabulary words from their countries.

Students spent three sessions with Mrs. Williams learning how to research a topic and cite their sources. During their time with Mrs. Williams, students learned that there are two main types of resources; print and online. Once learning the different in the two, students explored various types of resources such as books, magazines, newspapers, online databases, online encyclopedias, websites and more. They also learned how to cite their sources when they gather information for a research project. Students were shown how to locate and analyze the informational text in order to take notes. This is aligned with many key literacy skills that are important for students to obtain. What made this successful for the students in Mrs. Hill’s class was their ability to link these research skills to a topic with which they had a personal connection.

During writing, students used their research to plan, draft and revise an informational research paper on why someone would immigrate to the United States. All phases of the writing process were experienced. Students researched motives and found that war and the effects of war was a big reason that many people have left their homelands to live in the United States. Another reason to come to the United States was because of disease and famine. Still, others wanted to be able to find jobs in order to make a better livelihood and provide for their families. Students found that in modern times, many people have left their countries to come to the United States for a better education. America is still considered the land of opportunity.

In Social Studies, students integrated technology to create a Power point about the country their ancestors immigrated from. The class worked together to select common topics for the power point projects to be created. They chose to include a flag, map, currency, official language, government, traditions, famous people, and fun facts. Students were able to show their creative side by choosing their own pictures, slide layout, and transitions. The students have really enjoyed this part of the project and have discovered some very interesting “Fun Facts”!

For an art project, students used construction paper to create a flag of the country they researched. This spawned a discussion of symbols and their importance to the culture of the country. Students were able to explore the visual impact of other important symbols of their country as well.

During time in the computer lab, students used www.weather.com to compare the weather patterns in the country they were researching to the weather locally. The class had previously studied weather in depth and this was a real life application that integrated both their previously acquired knowledge and technology.

A highlight of the unit was when students tasted foods from each country, then graphed their favorite. The data was used in math to create fraction word problems. All of the students were willing to taste each of the different foods presented to them. The favorite food was gingersnaps from Sweden. The least favorite was Panettone (raisin bread) from Italy. The class broke the data into fractions and created word problems to solve. Some students needed extra support and scaffolding with the concepts that involved the fractions. Mrs. Hill was able to differentiate for these learners by using unifix cubes to help model and add fractions as a manipulative experience.

Finally, students labeled the classroom with vocabulary words from the countries they studied. The class voted on a list of items to be labeled in the class such as door, window, sink, and television. Students went to www.translatorbar.com on the Internet in order to translate each word from English to the language of the country they studied. Students copied and pasted the words to a word document, then worked together to print and mount the words on construction paper to be posted in the class. Once again, technology was used in a meaningful application.

The Power points created by the students will be posted on Moodle. Overall, the students have worked very hard to complete their research project and were very successful in making connections from their content to skills in literacy, math, writing, science and social studies. Art, culture, and technology were also important components of the project. The students seem very motivated and excited about their learning. As a teacher, Mrs. Hill feels the quality of their work was exceptional.



Written by: Danyah Hill, 5th Grade Teacher
Posted: Nov 22, 2010 by Jennifer Williams

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