Lesson Transformed: Grade 4 Social Studies

This is the third lesson in the series, Lesson Transformed, in which traditional lessons are transformed into engaging experiences for students which exemplify the premises of the Visioning Document.

Lesson #3

Topic: Geographic Regions of Texas

Grade Level: 4

Content Area: Social Studies


Traditional Lesson

Objective: The students will be able to identify, locate, and compare the geographic regions of Texas.

Warm Up: Display this image of Texas using a document camera or projector and encourage student volunteers to add any geographic information they know about our state.  Information they add may include cities, landforms, climate, or vegetation. 

Screen Shot 2016-06-05 at 2.21.06 PM
Link to Image

Learning Experience: Divide the class into 7 groups and assign each group one of the following regions of Texas: Big Bend Country, Gulf Coast, Hill Country, Panhandle Plains, Pineywoods, Prairies and Lakes, South Texas Plains.  Share this link to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department website and encourage the groups to research their region.  Then, display the image below using a document camera or projector and ask one member of each group to label and share 3 facts about their region.

Screen Shot 2016-06-05 at 2.16.14 PM.png
Link to Image

Conclusion: Lead a discussion about landforms, climate, or vegetation in each of the regions of Texas.  Stand Up/Sit Down: As information applies to their region, students should stand up to identify other regions with common characteristics.  


Transformed Lesson

Objective: The students will create evidence of understanding the landforms, climate, and vegetation of the regions of Texas.

Warm Up: Flip this assignment at least a week in advance of this lesson.  Contact your students’ parents and ask them to contribute photos of trips or family vacations that may include images of landforms, climate, or vegetation of various regions of Texas.  Alternatively, reach out to classes across Texas using Skype in the Classroom to connect your students with classrooms outside of your district to gather images from our great state.

Interested about learning more about possibilities for Skype in the Classroom?  Here is a link to a blog post by Pernille Ripp that may provide some insight.

*Note: The Warm Up has been transformed to include familiar images from students in the classroom.  This also serves as an opportunity to discuss digital citizenship and copyright.

Then, using the image below, create a Thing Link (or set up a computer station and allow your students to work together to create a Thing Link) in order to connect the images contributed by your students’ families to specific cities or regions in the state of Texas.  

Screen Shot 2016-06-05 at 2.16.14 PM
Link to Image

Exploration: Divide the class into 7 groups and assign each group one of the following regions of Texas: Big Bend Country, Gulf Coast, Hill Country, Panhandle Plains, Pineywoods, Prairies and Lakes, South Texas Plains.  Share this link to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department website as well as the link to the Thing Link created with their photos and encourage the groups to research their region.  Then, display the image above using a document camera or projector and ask one member of each group to label and share 3 facts about their region.

Create: Using a presentation app (such as Keynote,Haiku Deck, Explain Everything) or their own portfolio (using Seesaw, Bulbapp, Blogger, or other portfolio platform) to demonstrate understanding of landforms, climate, and vegetation of the regions of Texas, students will create an advertisement to encourage families to visit one of the regions of Texas.  You may choose to share portions of the Travel Texas website as an example.

*Note: This portion of the lesson has been included to ensure choice and engagement of all learners – opportunities that may be masked with the group activity in the previous phase.

Extension: The next step may be for students to begin to compare the regions of Texas with regions of the United States and other parts of the world.  GeoGuessr is a website that may be used to allow students to explore random sites of the United States in a game format.  Given an image from Google Maps, players must guess the location using a map, then points are awarded based on the accuracy of the guess.

Screen Shot 2016-06-05 at 2.45.19 PM.png
GeoGuessr

Portions of this transformed lesson was inspired by TASA on iTunes U: Intermediate Social Studies (Grades 3-5) – Fourth Grade Geography and Culture (Texas Regions).


It is the goal of this blog series to equip teachers with skills to transfer understanding and transform their own lesson design.

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