Investigating Place and Time

Investigating Place and Time
Sean Carroll

Students explore the past and its impact on the present.

Students in grade 5 have begun an investigation into place and time, exploring the connections between past civilizations and present-day societies.  As a getting started activity, students were given 10 big events in human history and had to place them on a continuum from oldest to most recent. 

First, students did this individually, allowing time for each student to develop her own ideas and form connections amongst events.  After some time, students were paired up to share their thinking and discuss their continuums, justifying and explaining their reasoning for each choice. 

Finally, each partnership was given an event to research. After researching, we organised the events into a more accurate class continuum. As each event was added to the timeline, students’ inferences and explanations became more complex. One example is, “After agriculture it must be the wheel. People used animals and wheel barrows to carry food from the farm.”

After getting a better understanding of the time period we are inquiring into, students investigated some of the key vocabulary words and concepts connected to the unit. Students showcased their understanding of these words in a variety of ways. One is through a  'concept character." Students created a fictitious character that exemplifies the concept or word being studied.

As a next step, students were ready to investigate the question, “What is a civilization?” Students were given a graphic organizer with a few videos to help get started. Although not a perfect title, students completed a T-chart with what life was like before civilizations and what it was like after. In addition, students listed the key characteristics that define a civilization.  Each student completed their own chart then a few students added their ideas to the class chart.

In addition, students have been analyzing artefacts to explore various civilizations.

We took the idea of analyzing evidence step further to collect and analyze evidence of our own learning.  As a class, we created a wall with evidence of our learning. The teacher lead the way in adding questions and topics to the wall and students added in the details.  Attempts were made to show connections between the inquiry cycle, concepts, lines of inquiry, and skills being developed.  

As a next step, groups of students will each have a wall where they will document and provide evidence of their learning as they investigate a civilization of their choosing.

Stay tuned to see student walls...

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