Research Using Online ToolsThe first step was to learn about online research tools. I wrote a post about the work back on the 25th of April. The following week, the students used the Fact Monster web site to find basic information about their state such as the government, land area, population, state flower, state bird, three largest cities, and state nickname. They had to choose a state that they had not yet visited. We had a good discussion about square miles versus square kilometers, how to determine which city was the largest, and what a governor does in a state.
State TourismAt the end of the lesson, the teacher thought it would be interesting to have the students find some places they could visit if they took a trip to the state. We only have 42 minutes, so I created a list of national parks, zoos, museums, waterfalls, and buildings and structures by state on a wiki.
As the students took a tour of their state, they had a worksheet to help them think about what they were seeing. In addition to their name and the name of their state, the form includes the following questions:
1. What is the name of a national park that you could travel to in your state?
2. What is the name of the zoo for your state?
3. Does this zoo look like an interesting place to visit? Why?
4. What is the name of a museum for your state?
5. Does this museum look like an interesting place to visit? Why?
6. What else was listed for your state?
7. Would you like to visit this place? Why?
The Great Mail RaceFinally, the students are going to choose a Catholic school in their state and send a letter to a third grade class in that school. I had never heard of the Great Mail Race until last year. The students sent a letter telling a little bit about our school and asked the partner school to fill in a form with questions. Here is an example I found using Google and the search terms: the great mail race questionnaire.
Last year we searched for school addresses using Find a School-NCES Kids' Zone. It worked well, but felt very random. The students didn't know anything about the school they chose. This year, I researched two school choices for each of the students and posted the address and a link the the school's web page. I was especially looking for colorful school web sites. The students looked at the web pages for both schools and decided which school they would most like to send their letter. Next they copied the address on a sheet of paper to bring back up to the classroom. They will fill in the letter to the partner school, address the envelope, and take a walk to the post office to mail the letter.
Finally, it's a race to see which school will be first to reply to our third grade students. As the letters come back, they mark the location on a map of the United States. Overall, it is a really nice way to learn more about our fifty states.
Oro, Ann. "County Park Sign." njtechteacher's photostream. 24 Nov 2007. 12 May 2010.