Perspectives on a New World: Inquiry in the Elementary Social Studies Classroom



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Note to Teacher: The analysis of the following sources rely heavily on reading as well as on speaking and listening skills. It is essential to group students in a way that these skills will be enhanced and supported. Speaking and listening skills must be taught explicitly before beginning an inquiry based lesson.

Note to Teacher: Support productive groups just enough to keep them engaged. It is important to allow students time to struggle through this analysis. Some students may feel a sense of frustration. At this point offer encouragement but refrain from leading them to a predetermined conclusion. Scaffolding suggestions include:



    • Use a source such as rewordify.com to modernize the language of primary sources



    • Chunk pieces of the text and remind students to annotate the text or to make their thinking visible by leaving tracks of their thinking for each chunk of text



    • Read the text aloud or group struggling readers with strong readers. This is not to suggest stronger readers hold the responsibility of the group’s work. Often, when we give our struggling readers access to the text and keep our expectations for the speaking and listening aspect of the assignment high, we find that our struggling students are productive group members



    • Help students scaffold their thinking by chunking each part of the thinking map and asking “What words in the text tell us what the Europeans thought of the Native Americans?” so on and so forth



    • Direct students to specific words and phrases in the text and ask a close reading question (i.e. what does this phrase tell us about the perspective of the English settlers?)




  1. Jigsaw group members so they can share their findings and evidence from their research.

Jigsaw groups will move on together with the final phase of inquiry. The goal of this phase is to give students an opportunity to draw conclusions from all of the source documents used in class and to come to consensus about the factors that shaped European settlers’ perspectives of Native Americans. Group members will discuss the conclusions they came to based on their source document.

  1. Each student will share a brief summary of his or her source documents and the conclusions drawn.

  2. Students will then complete the first box on the Inquiry Conclusions sheet.

Long Range Plan Suggestion:

  1. At this point students will move through lessons on both the Jamestown and Plymouth settlements. Students should study the interactions between the settlers and the Native Americans to conclude the immediate impact of those interactions.



  1. At the conclusion of the unit students will consider the impact of the perspective European setters had on Native Americans. They will return to the Inquiry Conclusions and Action Plan sheet to complete the second box.



  1. Finally, students will be prompted to reflect on the implications of what they have learned. In what ways does our understanding of the factors that shaped European settlers’ perspective on Native Americans help us to understand how we shape our perspectives on others in our society today? Students will work in productive groups to complete the third and final boxes on the Inquiry Conclusions sheet.



  1. Teachers will need to provide the following in order to provide students with an opportunities to engage as active citizenship:

    1. Time to develop and execute action plan

    2. Access to resources appropriate for their action plan. Consider:

      1. contacts to community members, leaders, and/or public media

      2. additional sources to research a current event connected to the event or problem

      3. technology to create public relations materials

    3. Use the Overarching Themes Writing Rubric as a framework for creating differentiated culminating activity rubrics.



MSDE Summer 2015 College and Career Readiness Conference



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