Inside Our Classrooms: Geography - Fall 2013

Third Grade

Third graders have been researching different states and countries for their geography projects. The students are excited to write pen pal letters. First, they are imagining they live in a state in the Southeast region of the United States and writing to an Olympic athlete from their assigned country in Africa. Then, they will write a letter responding as if they are the athlete. They are also learning about stamp design, designing two of their own stamps: one from their state and one from their African country. Students recently visited the Postal Museum and saw stamps from around the world.

Fourth Grade

Fourth graders have been researching different states and countries for their geography projects. The students are excited to write pen pal letters. First, they are imagining they live in a state in the Midwest region of the United States and writing to an Olympic athlete from their assigned country in the Middle East, part of Australia, or Greece. Then, they will write a letter responding as if they are the athlete. They are also learning about stamp design and designing two of their own stamps: one from their state and one from their country. They are looking forward to their geography field trip in December. The fourth graders will later head downtown to The Newseum to see the exhibit Photo Finish, which is full of photographs taken by Neil Leifer during the last fifteen Olympic games.   

Fifth Grade

The Fifth Grade began this year by taking a close look at all the skills they need to effectively use a map. Students mastered the use of resource materials such as globes and atlases to pinpoint the location of any country or major city using the global location system of latitude and longitude. After considering the planet from a satellite’s perspective, students zoomed in to study specific landforms and the various locations on the planet where they can be found. In keeping with the class philosophy, which seeks to espouse content and meaning (in other words, why are students learning this?), students studied these in the countries where they are found and also what impact these landforms had on each country. They have considered how mountain ranges and deserts have acted as natural barriers that have kept various cultures from interacting. 

Fifth Grade also overlapped industrial progress with river systems to analyze the relationship between a country’s business and its waterways. As the first quarter comes to a conclusion, students will complete their geography project, which calls for the students to assume the identity of the same countries they have studied. Each student will plead their adoptive nation’s case to the International Olympic Committee with the hope of bringing home the one prize greater than a gold medal: hosting the games themselves. 

Sixth Grade

The sixth graders this year have focused their energy on gaining a mastery of all map and atlas skills and have branched into a comprehensive study of time zones. They concluded their maps section by putting their skills to the test and designing their own country, complete with landforms, cities, and population data (stop by the classroom to see the results!). The Sixth Grade focuses primarily on the countries in Southeast Asia. When they study these countries, rather than focusing simply on the features within each (for example, Mongolia is home to the Gobi Desert), they focus on an aspect that makes that landform relevant in today’s world (for example, the Gobi desert is home to one of the richest copper and gold deposits in the world). This has been both a blessing and a curse for the local people, who are displaced by international mining corporations and catapulted into a modern culture for which many are ill-equipped to survive. Students will continue to focus on modern issues such as green energy, pollution control, and impacts of population in each of the countries they will study.