Monday, August 24, 2015

Archaeology and the Distant Past for Interactive Notebooks

This is a re-post of my blog from last year.

Time to plan the next Interactive Notebook lesson for 4th grade social studies! My teacher's manual recommends quite a few websites which show pictures of Native American petroglyphs, pictographs, and mud glyphs as a place to start. I linked all of the functioning sites to my Native American Pinterest board, which you can link to here, or simply click on the image below. (I'm constantly adding more resources to this board, so if you are reading this post long after I uploaded it, you might have to scroll down a bit to find these images.)

CG Fourth Grade Social Studies: Early Native Americans


You'll notice that the first two images on the board are books, including one called Archaeologists Dig for Clues. I don't see this book as a good read aloud, but I think it would be excellent for use in a  center. It explains why, where, when, and how archaeologists dig, and what they might find. It's also a small, inexpensive paperback, which makes it possible to purchase several copies for center use without breaking the bank.

To actually introduce the topic, I would instead use this short video about archaeological digs from Tennessee History for Kids. (It's not just for Tennessee.) Just click on the picture to reach the links.

Mississippian Dig Video

The nice thing about this site is that they provide links to the video in three different formats: QuickTime, Windows Media Player, or YouTube. I appreciate the options, as I've been at schools which don't allow one or more of these. Once you reach the page, scroll about halfway down until you see the matching picture. Then click on the desired link to watch the video.

I love how this video shows the steps used by archaeologists, from choosing a site, clearing the land, measuring it into grids, carefully excavating, then sifting through the dirt to find the artifacts.

Some students may wonder why scientists don't often find cloth or other "soft" items during a dig. This informational graph might be helpful. It shows the decay rates of everyday materials left behind by humans.

Decomposition Rates of Common Materials
The graph shows how natural materials, such as plant and animal fibers, decay much faster than man-made materials. While ancient people did not have the ability to create glass or plastic, they did leave behind bones and stone tools, as these items take much longer to decompose than skins or cloth.

I would introduce the lesson vocabulary, and give students these cards to complete during center time. One side of the cards has space for the vocabulary term and sentence, while the other has room for the definition and an illustration. These cards will be stored in the envelopes students glued into their Interactive Notebooks last time. (I've included both blank and completed cards to give you an idea how I've set them up.)

Blank Vocabulary Cards Front
Blank Vocabulary Cards Back
Example of Front of Completed Vocabulary Cards
Example of Back of Completed Vocabulary Cards

The graphics I used for these examples come from Teachers Resource Force. You can find them here and here. I don't have these vocabulary cards in my store yet, but I plan to add them once I finish planning this entire Native American unit.

Next would come the actual reading of the lesson. Sometimes I choral read this with students, sometimes I use call and response, and sometimes I have students read the lesson in pairs. I also like to put the audio CD at a computer station for students who need extra help decoding, or who are absent when the reading is done in class. I NEVER assign fourth grade students to read the text at home as a way to cover the material. If they want to take the book home to re-read the lesson or to study, that's fine.

There are discussion questions at the end of the lesson, but it drives me crazy how these are never written down anywhere except in the book. I like to have students work in cooperative groups to answer these, and I don't like to have them waste precious class time re-writing each question. To save the students some time, I created these discussion response cards.





These cards could be used in many ways. They can be exit tickets, study guides, task cards, or INB pieces. I'm not thrilled with the low level of questioning here, but I'll add my own questions verbally, as I teach the material.

The next class period I would review a section of the text and give a lesson on main idea and details. Since I knew the lesson had three details to go with the main idea, I chose a triangular pattern for the graphic organizer. I would have the students cut out the following INB foldable during morning announcements, then save it for our social studies lesson later that day.

Main Idea and Details Foldable w/o Lines

Main Idea and Details w/Lines

In our text, the lesson is about the Paleo and Archaic Native Americans who inhabited the land before written history began. You text may be vastly different, which is why I am showing our results as an example only. Plus, some of my students need help keeping their printing straight (hence the graphic organizer with lines) while others like the freedom of an organizer without lines. Here's what our completed foldable would look like.


For the main body of at-level students, this same graphic organizer could be used for other lessons in the chapter, to be completed independently. For struggling students, I would pull them into a small group and continue to model the procedure until they were able to successfully complete it on their own. (For some, this may take many months of practice.) For more advanced students, I might ask them to each take a different section of the text, complete the chart, then switch papers to correct each other's work.

I also want to include a lesson on comparing and contrasting the Paleo Indians with the people of the Archaic period. I'll have a graphic organizer/foldable for the students' Interactive Notebooks, plus I'll share some ideas for anchor charts I've found to help teach this reading and writing skill. Check my next blog post to see these.  :)

Please make a comment below about anything you've seen in this post. I would love to hear from you!

"See" you next time! Have a fabulous week!

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