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Computers & Internet, Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies
By – Donna Hennessy
Primary Subject – Language Arts
Secondary Subjects – Math, Science, Social Studies, Computers/Internet
Grade Level – 5
Walls That Tell a Story Unit
III. Narrative Rationale
VI. Lesson Plans:
Lesson Plan 1 –
(Math, Social Studies)
Lesson Plan 2 –
Lesson Plan 3 –
Lesson Plan 4 –
(Language Arts, Other)
III. Narrative Rationale
- This unit entitled
Walls That Tell a Story
- is created for a fifth grade class. By examining walls presented in the beautifully written and illustrated book entitled
- by Margy Burns Knight and Anne Sibley O’Brian, students will be introduced to new cultures and experiences. Ms. Knight highlights walls such as The Great Wall of China, The City of the Sun in Peru, and The Lascaux Cave in France. She shows us how some of these walls, like the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial, bring families together for a common purpose. Other walls such as the Berlin Wall create conflict within their borders. To help students learn about the walls themselves, the materials used to construct them, the people who toiled to build them, and the purpose they serve, the essential question that arose in this unit is:
- The four lesson plans included in this unit cover the NJ Core Curriculum Standards for Language Arts, Math, Science and Technology. In addition, there are 24 more lessons that are included on the curriculum web, covering all nine of the subject areas of the standards. Each of the subject areas have a least three lessons, with at least one lesson designed for visual learners, auditory learners and kinesthetic learners. Also, spread throughout the lessons on the web are ways to help children who are strong in other intelligences described in Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences. These include linguistic (words), logical (mathematical), spatial (visual), musical, interpersonal (people-smart), intrapersonal (self-smart), kinesthetic (body) and naturalistic (of nature). Children will find these lessons developmentally appropriate as they are based on the NJCCCS for fifth grade, as well as having adaptations for children requiring special needs.
- This thematic unit will help children think critically by having them perform tasks on the highest level of Blooms Taxonomy such as: Create walls of their own, formulate the best route to take to visit one of these walls, write a narrative on the “walls” in their own lives, and develop a brochure of one of the walls the student would like to visit.
- Personally I chose this book because I feel it gives teachers a way to let their class explore the magnificent walls that exist all over the world and the stories behind these walls. I was especially intrigued with this book when I read about Lascaux Cave in France and how four young boys stumbled upon it while searching for their dog in the woods. The wall paintings in this cave were done more than 17,000 years ago, yet these boys literally stumbled upon it! Incredible! Another aspect of this book I liked was that it was easy to provide differentiated instruction for these lessons, because based upon the child’s interest or ability they could delve much deeper into researching information about the cave or wall we are focusing on.
- Another important aspect of this theme is that since it covers so many different cultures in so many parts of the world, a student is bound to make a connection to one of the cultures we will be focusing on. If a student for example has family living in Peru, the student could talk to them or write to them about the City of the Sun to see if they have ever seen it, or if they could send us a picture or postcard of it. In this way, these walls will become more real and relevant to the students. Also, by asking children if they know of any great walls that were not mentioned in the book
- , a teacher will be providing ways to bring in their point of view. This is what Brooks and Thompson explains needs to happen in a classroom that honors the “whole child and every child” (Brooks, J. G., Thompson, E. G., 2005).
- The culminating activity to wrap up this unit would be a visit to the “Traveling Wall”; a compact version of the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial Wall in Washington, DC. The wall travels all over the United States and teachers can request the wall be brought to a certain location. This field trip will accomplish several things. First, prior to the field trip, the students will be given the name and background information of a soldier whose name appears on the wall. This helps them to see that this wall honors real people, some who aren’t much different from them. Next, by experiencing the wall first hand, they can see the way the wall was constructed, examine the material used to build it, and most importantly, see the impact it has on the people that visit it. As the students try to find the name of their assigned soldier, they can feel the effect of how this wall brings people together for a common cause.
- Once this thematic unit is complete, it is my hope that the children would be able to recognize all of the walls mentioned in the book and be able to describe the story it tells about the people who built it, how it was discovered, its original purpose and how it is used today. If these walls could talk what would they say? I would like children to realize that some walls would tell us about the social injustice that surrounded them (Berlin Wall), others would be proud of its intricate sculptures (Mahabalipuram’s Animal Walls), still others would talk about the millions of prayers they’ve heard (The Western Wall). If children are prepared to discuss the similarities and differences of the cultures explored and be able to take a stand for or against the barriers some of these walls create, this would be a “towering” accomplishment and a successful unit!
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