This land is your land, this land is my land
From California to the New York Island,
From the Redwood Forest to the Gulf stream waters,
This land was made for you and me.
-From This Land is Your Land by Woody Guthrie
The fourth graders recently shared their research connected with our first project-based learning unit on United States landforms and the National Parks. Research topics ranged from the Redwood Forest to the Great Smoky Mountains, Alcatraz to Ford’s Theatre, hiking to white water rafting, geysers to volcanoes, and Teddy Roosevelt and John Muir.
Students learned more about their topic by conducting research online. They presented their information on a tri-fold board or in Google Slides. Some groups extended their learning by creating activity books, building clay or Lego models, or conducting science demonstrations. These presentations were the culmination of an extensive, integrated project-based learning unit.
In science class, fourth graders learned about landforms and erosion. They also learned about specific landforms in the United States and how many of them are protected by the National Park Service. Students also used Virtual Reality viewers with the Google Expeditions app to "travel" to the National Parks. This unit extended into Social Studies, where students learned mapping skills, and into Language Arts, where students read the novel "Gone Fishing".
The enrichment teachers played an important role in enhancing our students' learning during this unit. Students learned American themed songs and movements that connected to the National Parks in Music class, which they performed for their families on presentation day. The PE teachers led an outdoor adventure unit that included kayaking in the pool, learning about fly fishing, and walking the Coach Dupe trail with veteran hiker Coach Cole. In Art, students created land art sculptures inspired by artist Andy Goldsworthy’s work. In Library, students learned the computer program Tinkercad to design a keychain connected with their research project that will be 3D printed.
The learning extended outside the classroom with a walk to nearby Jones Creek to study erosion, a field trip to the Louisiana Art and Science Museum to see a National Parks movie, and a fabulous hike to see some waterfalls at the Clark Creek Natural Area in Mississippi. Each fourth grader received a free one-year park pass from the Every Kid in a Park program, which is a national youth initiative that specifically encourages fourth graders and their families to explore our country’s natural wonders and historic sites. We hope everyone will get a chance to explore our nation’s great outdoors…from California to the Gulf Stream waters!
Rosalyn is in her sixteenth year of teaching. Prior to coming to Episcopal, she taught at independent schools in New York City and Los Angeles. She is in her second year of teaching fourth grade science and taught second grade for two years. Rosalyn earned her Bachelor's degree in Biology at Whitman College and her Master's degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education at New York University. She loves teaching science and finding ways to integrate technology and other subjects into the curriculum.