Friday, April 26, 2013

The Infamous Mr. Washington Part Two

Surveying: Washington Style

In addition to learning about George Washington as a President and farmer, I also taught my students about Washington's first career as a Surveyor.

I used a WONDERFUL lesson that I found from George Washington's Leadership Lessons.
The lesson included a PowerPoint to use to introduce Surveying as well as great worksheets to use while surveying. It's so nice to be able to take a great lesson and run with it!

Basically I split my class into groups of four. Each student had a particular job, but they had to work together to accomplish their survey. We then went to the playground and each group chose an area to survey. They then used the gunter's chain I had made from yarn to measure each leg of their survey. I did add having the students use a compass into the lesson by having them determine and mark down the direction for each leg of their survey. I did a quick 5 minute demonstration in class on how to use a compass before we went outside. Once they had measured each leg, they then had to find the perimeter, area, write a description, and map the area.



Overall the groups did FANTASTIC. I did of course have to steer a few in the right direction, but they picked it up pretty fast. After the lesson I had them vote on how hard of a job Washington had, and most of them decided his job was pretty hard.

My kids and I really loved this lesson. It tied Social Studies, Writing, Science, and Math all seamlessly together into one lesson. Best of all the kids didn't care that they were writing and doing math problems. They loved it!


Lessons Learned:

I made my gunter's chains out of tan yarn, which became hard to see in the pictures. Also, the tied on yarn moved if they got pulled on, so I was glad I had marked the yarn with a marker as to where each string went so they could be fixed easily.

I modified some of the directions from the lesson, but didn't realize that they wanted the map drawn to scale. That was a little advanced for my students, so I had to reassure them to just draw it to the best of their ability. When I do this next year, I will either remove that direction or be sure to really review the kids on drawing to scale before this lesson.

Take a Tour of Mount Vernon

Having taken such a fabulous trip to Mount Vernon, I also took an entire lesson to show them pictures I had taken while there. I made the pictures into a PowerPoint and added important information to each slide. Since Mount Vernon doesn't allow pictures inside the Washington house, I took my kids on the Mount Vernon Virtual Tour . I was nervous about how well the kids would really pay attention, so I had them take notes on something new they learned about Washington or Mount Vernon from the slides. I told them to write down at least ten things. Halfway through my first class, I realized my fears were crazy as they were all intrigued by the pictures. When the slides were finished I had students with forty or fifty new things they had learned! I also had many of them tell me they were going to try to convince their parents to take them to Mount Vernon this summer!

If you teach or love history, I would greatly encourage you look into the Mount Vernon Teacher's Institute. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity that will change the way you think about Washington and change how you teach our first President's life. Also, if you teach in a school anywhere near Virginia, please take your students to Mount Vernon. My Oklahoma kiddos wish we were close enough to take a field trip there...

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