Shh! We’re Writing the Constitution

Sunday, January 25, 2015

This week, we are starting Shh! We’re Writing the Constitution by Jean Fritz.  The book is a great story about how the Constitution was written during the summer of 1787.  The Framers are brought to life and are described as real people.  The events are written in a way that fifth graders can understand.  This is the sixth year that I have used the book with my group of fifth graders, and every year they seem to like the book, but most importantly, they remember the history!

I start by dividing the book into five sections.  The content is so rich, that the shorter sections allow us to really dive in and understand the story each day.  We read and discuss the book together and they complete comprehension questions each day.

At the beginning of the week, I also hand out a Spelling Activities page for the kids to use during the week.  There are only 12 words, but the kids are also required to learn their meanings, so 12 seems like plenty!

Once we finish the book, we review by completing a fill-in-the-blank summary of the story and by watching the video.  The video is available on YouTube here.  The video is basically a reading of the story with the illustrations in the background, but it provides a good review of the story.

I finish up the mini-unit on this book with a short quiz on the material.

This weekend, I’ve been cooped up working on school work, and I put together all of the materials I’ve created to use with the book into one packet of activities.  I even managed to get it posted on TPT!  If you’d like to check it out, it’s available here.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Last week was a busy one, with a holiday on Monday and a snow day on Wednesday, but we still did a lot to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr.

On Monday, we watched a video called Mighty Times: The Children’s March.  It focused on the Children’s March in Birmingham, Alabama in May of 1963.  The event caught the eye of the nation and led to President Kennedy publically supporting racial equality.  After the video, we had a discussion about the Civil Rights Movement and Dr. King’s involvement in the movement.  The kids learned a lot and had TONS of great questions.  Perhaps my favorite question was, “Why are we just now learning about this? I mean, I have never heard of any of this!”  It was great to present fifth graders with information that they want to learn more about!

The video is available from the Zinn Education Project, but even better, it is available to educators for free, along with several other materials!  You can learn more about this video here and can learn more about their other products by browsing around the website.

On Tuesday, we did a close reading activity about Martin Luther King, Jr. Day that I found from The Sweetest Thing.  You can find it on TPT here.  The kids enjoyed reading about Dr. King and about the progress of creating a history to remember him and his actions.  They also used those close reading skills that we have been practicing so hard!
On Thursday (snow/ice day on Wednesday), we did another close reading activity about Dr. King.  This one, I found from Fifth in the Middle,  You can find it on TPT here.  This time, the kids had to use text evident to create a timeline, to find cause and effect relationships, and to complete a writing activity.  This one seemed like more work to me, but again, the kids loved it.  They really got into the timeline activity and wanted to add more events that they knew should be added to the timeline.

Overall, it was a great week with a lot of learning about Martin Luther King, Jr.  And even better, the kids had fun learning!
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