Saturday, November 5, 2016

Please Welcome Sharon Fabian, Guest Teacher-Author

About Sharon
   I have taught English and reading in inclusion and self-contained settings for about twenty-eight years.  Nearly all of that time was spent in the middle grades, and middle graders are still the students I love to focus on.  When I was teaching, I enjoyed coming up with new lessons for my students and revising materials to suit the needs of each year’s classes.  Now that I’m retired, I enjoy writing about teaching ideas on my blog, Classroom in the Middle, and creating resources for other teachers to use, which you can see in my store, also called Classroom in the Middle.  
thanksgivingin-language-arts-lessons

Thanksgiving in Language Arts Lessons
    The weeks before Thanksgiving are such a great time for teaching language arts lessons that have a built-in connection with social studies. There are so many great Thanksgiving topics and themes along with a rich assortment of materials and activities. And one of the really nice things about Thanksgiving themed resources is that they can be incorporated into so many different areas of the language arts curriculum. Another is that there are many public domain materials about the historical period; maybe the history teachers at your school have some good sources that they would be happy to share.

   Thanksgiving readings, writing prompts, research topics – how do you most like to incorporate the holiday in your English classroom?

   One way to make use of many Thanksgiving resources is by using a 5Ws theme. The old newspaper clues of Who, What, When, Where, and Why can provide a great framework for all those interesting Thanksgiving resources you’ve saved.

WHO?
   Take a look at this picture. It’s a public domain image of The First Thanksgiving, a painting by Jean Louis Gerome Ferris. It could be the start of a great discussion about what your kids already know, or have heard, about the first Thanksgiving. As kids look at the details in the painting and talk about the people they see there, they’re making inferences and using their characterization skills. Who are these people? What can you say about them? From what you already know about US history, can you predict how things will change in the future for these people?

the_first_thanksgiving_jean_louis_gerome_ferris

WHAT?
   What really happened at the first Thanksgiving? This is a question that could be discussed in various ways with kids of all ages. Little kids learn about people getting together to share and celebrate a good harvest after lots of hard work. Big kids can get into the actual history, and eventually move on to a look at why history records things the way it does and how even history texts and painting all come with a certain point of view.

WHEN?
   How long ago was 1621? What was life like back then? What would it have been like traveling to a new land and starting a new life an ocean away from home at that time? Timelines, illustration, written descriptions of everyday life or other historical events of the time period – there are lots of possibilities here, too.

WHERE?
   Kids can locate the first Thanksgiving on a map, and look at historical maps of the thirteen colonies (a primary source). They could check out the route the pilgrims traveled to get here. Or look into the areas inhabited by various Native American tribes on the east coast of the US. More advanced students might tackle the idea of how the location where they settled affected the lives of various groups of colonists (cause and effect).

   Putting together the ideas of “where” and “when,” students could work on a compare and contrast activity, comparing the lives of settlers to their own lives now.

WHY?
   Why do we celebrate Thanksgiving today? Why has this one event become so important in our culture? To answer these questions, students might write an opinion essay explaining what they think and using details from what they have learned to support their opinions.

And HOW?
   How was Thanksgiving celebrated in 1621? Compare this to how it is celebrated today. How do you celebrate the holiday in your own family? (And, how would we like to celebrate it in our class?)

   Yes, Thanksgiving provides a huge source of resources and topics (A cornucopia?) – enough for weeks of language arts lessons! And your history-teaching colleagues will thank you for all the reinforcement!

   I’ve also used the idea of the 5Ws and Thanksgiving in this little FREEBIE – “The 5Ws of Thanksgiving.” It includes two holiday activity sheets. One is all about things we are thankful for, and the other is about Thanksgiving family get-togethers.

Thanksgiving-5ws-freebie

                                                                 

                                                                   Regards,
                                                                   Sharon
                                                
 Classroom in the Middle blog
 Classroom in the Middle Store, where you will find lots of lesson ideas and engaging resources designed for teaching language arts to middle grades students.

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