Tried It Tuesday: Interactive Notes and Totem Poles!

Good afternoon, friends!

I’m getting ready to have our Curriculum Night (a night where parents come in to listen to me tell them how hard exciting the year is going to be! LOL) but I thought I’d share something we did today- it was too fun!

We’re about half way into our Native Americans unit, and my kids are LOVING interactive notetaking. This is a strategy that I’ve adapted from some training I’ve had – I took bits and pieces that I liked, and that WORKED for me last year (all of my kids passed the state Social Studies test!) – don’t we all do that?? I start it right from the beginning because I have quite a few low readers. The students glue down the passage that I give them (always about the SS or Science topic) on the right side of their notebook, and they do all of their work on the left. The students box each paragraph in a different color, then read the first paragraph quietly to themselves. At this point, either I read, or a volunteer reads the first paragraph aloud. This way, students who weren’t able to fully read it can now hear it. Once the first paragraph is read, I ask if there are any words that they didn’t understand or need more explanation on- we call these “cloudy words” and they actually draw a little cloud around them. We do our best to use context clues to figure it out- sometimes I just have to tell them. Then, we pull out the main idea of the paragraph- and we DRAW it. We also write phrases, but there are NO full sentences being written, just words and drawings. Each paragraph gets drawn/labeled with the color they used to put the box around it. That way, if they have any question about what they drew or wrote, they can go back to THAT paragraph and see what it was.

This is a very helpful summarizing tool- I have them tell the person sitting across from them what they “wrote” by forming sentences out of the pictures and phrases (almost like they are telling a story). They take turns doing this so, not only are they saying it, but they are also hearing it. It’s also a great tool to help them study- they aren’t just re-reading a passage I gave them- they are “reading” what they wrote and drew about it. Being able to visualize the text is so important!

And since we learned about the Kwakiutl tribe, and we learned they had totem poles outside of their homes to tell the story of their family, we made totem poles to tell the story of OUR family! 🙂 They are proudly on display for our parents to see tonight!

The page I used came from Frank Schaffer Publications… you know I’d share it if I could!! It was great, because it explained the meaning of each of the animal symbols.

Go link up with Holly for Tried It Tuesday, or just go check out what everyone else is doing! :o)

Also, check out some other great Social Studies ideas over at Fifth in the Middle!

Native Americans Linky