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 "My Own Private Idaho; Using Social Studies to Explore Idaho"

by Sonja Dodge
University of Idaho

Grade: 4-8
Time Allotment: Approximately four 1 hr. 15 min. classes (or seven 45 min. classes)
Subject Matter: Social Studies/Earth Science: Geography and Geology

Overview:
This lesson plan provides several activities to learn about Idaho and Social Studies themes. Using an variety of media, students will become familiar with Idaho's geography and geology.

Learning Objectives:
Students will be able to:

  • correctly use the terms "geography" and "geology".
  • discuss and record information about the geography of Idaho.
  • use a map to locate counties and major waterways and cities in Idaho.
  • read topographic maps.
  • discuss volcanoes, floods, and earthquakes that have affected Idaho.

Standards:
National Council for the Social Studies Standards for the Middle Grades

  • III. a. Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of people, places, and environments, so that the learner can elaborate mental maps of locales, regions, and the world that demonstrate understanding of relative location, direction, size, and shape.
  • III. b. Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of people, places, and environments, so that the learner can create, interpret, use, and distinguish various representations of the earth, such as maps, globes, and photographs.
  • III. c. Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of people, places, and environments, so that the learner can use appropriate resources, data sources, and geographic tools such as aerial photographs, satellite images, geographic information systems, map projections, and cartography to generate, manipulate, and interpret information such as atlases, data bases, grid systems, charts, graphs, and maps.
  • III. j.Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of people, places, and environments, so that the learner can observe and speculate about social and economic effects of environmental changes and crises resulting from phenomena such as floods, storms, and drought.

Idaho Standards: www.IdahoAchieves.com/standards.html

  • 469.01.b The students will develop and use different kinds of maps, globes, graphs, charts, databases, and models.
  • 469.01.c Students will identify the locations of certain physical and human features and events on maps and globes and answer related geography questions.
  • 469.06.d Students will describe physical features that have influenced historical events.
  • 595.01.d Students will use available and appropriate technology.

Media Components :

Videos:

  • "Proceedings on Visions of Idaho; Geography" Idaho Public Television video. 1990 This video can be found in most public schools and at the State Library.
  • "Proceedings on Visions of Idaho; Geology" Idaho Public Television video. 1990 This video can be found in most public schools and at the State Library.

Web Sites:

  • http://imnh.isu.edu/digitalatlas/counties/counties.htm
    This site shows an outline of Idaho and all of Idaho's counties. The counties are also labeled so that students can label them on their own personal maps.
  • http://www.cftech.com/BrainBank/GEOGRAPHY/Idaho.html
    This site contains a detailed map of Idaho. It includes cities, waterways, and other geological features. Students will have to explore this map to label a number of things on their own personal maps.
  • http://inmh.isu.edu/digitalatlas/teach/lsnplns/mapactlp.htm
    Students will not be going to this site, but it was where the idea for the "Mapping Idaho" lesson was found. The original list of areas to locate and label was modified for the activity in this unit.

  • http://www.arts.ufl.edu/art/rt_room/sketchbk/make_a_sketchbook.html
    Students will not be going to this site, but it is where the idea for the journals was found. The instructions students will use to make their journals (handout entitled "How to Make a Sketchbook") was taken directly from this site.
  • http://www.mapquest.com
    This site contains a database of maps. Here, students will look up their addresses and print off maps of their neighborhoods, cities, Idaho, and the United States.
  • http://interactive2.usgs.gov/learningweb/teachers/mapsshow_act4.htm
    Students will not be going to this site, but it is where the packet entitled "Activity Sheet; How to Read a Topographic Map" was taken. By doing this activity sheet, students will become somewhat familiar with topographic maps.
  • http://www.topozone.com
    This site contains a database of topographic maps. Here, students will explore different topographic maps of their choice. They must include topographic maps in their final presentations, and this site is a great resource for them to use.

Materials:
Videos:
Proceedings on Visions of Idaho; Geography
Proceedings on Visions of Idaho; Geology

One television and VCR to play the video on

Per 2-4 students:
One computer (with a word or paint program that will allow them to copy and paste from the Internet)
One printer hooked up to the computers they will be using
One pencil
One piece of paper
One utility knife
One stapler

Per student:
One "Map of Idaho Counties" handout
One "Mapping Idaho Directions" handout
One complete 8 ct. packet of crayons and/or colored pencils
One "How to Make a Sketchbook" handout
One 6.5-by-18.5 inch piece of cardboard
Six sheets of 6-by-18 inch white drawing paper
One ruler
One pencil
Journal
One journal checklist (attachment)
Glue stick
One "Activity Sheet; How to Read a Topographic Map" handout
One large piece of poster board

Prep For Teachers
Bookmark the following sites on computers prior to the lesson:

http://imnh.isu.edu/digitalatlas/maps/maproom/Archives/JPEG/mlcwo.jpg
http://www.cftech.com/BrainBank/GEOGRAPHY/Idaho.html
http://www.mapquest.com
http://www.topozone.com
http://www.50states.com/songs/idaho.htm

Prepare materials for students prior to each activity, which includes copying off supplemental handouts. Cue Proceedings on Visions of Idaho; Geography to right before the woman begins talking. Cue Proceedings on Visions of Idaho; Geology to right before the woman begins talking, as well.

Introductory Activities

Activity #1 What is geography? What is Geology?                                    10 min.

Ask students to pair up. Have students go to a computer with a piece of paper and a pencil and look up definitions for geography and geology - can be found using search engine or from CD encyclopedias.

After approximately five minutes, have them come together as a group. Have each pair of students share their definitions. Write key words on the board that will help the students remember the terms. Ask them what geological features make up Idaho. Are there any neat places in Idaho that they have been to? Inform them that they are going to be geographers and geologists for the next week or so, and will explore Idaho. What tools do they think geographers and geologists need in order to study and record the environment? Write all of these things on the board for a visual aid.

Learning Activities

Activity #2 Mapping Idaho                                                                                   15 - 20 min.

Have each student get their pack of crayons or colored pencils. Hand out one "Map of Idaho Counties" handout and one "Mapping Idaho Directions" handout to each student. Have each pair of students sit at a computer together. Tell them to carefully follow the directions on the "Mapping Idaho Directions" handout. When they are finished, have them come back to their tables. If there are still pairs working on their maps, have the other pairs compare maps for accuracy. If needed, give them another "Map of Idaho Counties" if needed for corrections.

Activity #3 Making Journals                                                                              20 - 30 min.

Students have already been informed that they are going to be geographers and geologists. Inform them that before computers geographers and geographers, such as the explorers Lewis and Clark, used to keep journals of things they saw. Tell students that they are going to make journals to record their information. Show the students the journal that you made prior to class. Pass it around to let them look at it. An activity like this can be done at individual desks or as small groups.

Pass out the "How to Make a Sketchbook" handout, the 6.5-by-18.5 inch piece of cardboard, and 6 sheets of 6-by-18 inch white drawing paper. The remaining materials (utility knives and a stapler) can be shared between the students. It is probably best to do this activity together step by step.

Following the instructions on the "How to Make a Sketchbook" handout, make a journal with them. When you get to the step where utility knives are used, have students come up and assist them with this step. Finish the project according to the directions. Have the students write their names inside of their journals immediately after they are finished.

Day Two:

Introductory Activities
Activity #4 Recording Their Surroundings                                                    5 -10 min.
Hand out a "Journal Checklist" to each student. Notice that there are 4 checklists per page. Cut them prior to class so that each student has only one checklist. Go over the checklist with the students. Inform them that sketches are not "artistic pieces of work", but are rough drawings instead. They can sketch the pictures as roughly as they want. To sketch their county, Idaho, and the United States, they can look at maps. Tell them to make sure they label all of their sketches.

Inform students that they need to keep in mind that all of the items on the checklist need to fit in their journals, so their drawings cannot take up more than one page each. Feel free to make your own checklist if you want to modify it. Activity #6 goes into detail about how to have them find maps to put in their journals.

Learning Activities
Activity #5 Video: Proceedings on Visions of Idaho; Geography          20 - 30 min
.

Proceedings on Visions of Idaho; Geography is a video produced by IdahoPTV for educational purposes. It informs students on the geographical features of Idaho, including some historical information. The entire video, from the point where you are told to cue it to the point where you are told to stop lasts approximately 12 minutes. However, during the video it is important to pause and discuss it. Therefore, this activity can take anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes. Leave the lights on during the video, so students will view it as a learning activity and not a form of entertainment. Also, they will be writing in their journals and will need to be able to see. Before showing the video, ask the class what they think the word "geography" means. Tell them to watch for the definition in the video.

  • Before showing the video to the class, CUE it right before the woman begins talking. Press PLAY.
  • PAUSE right after the woman says: "...who made up the six or so major Native American tribes, lived in various parts of the state?" Write the six tribes on the board: Kootenai, Kalispel, Coeur d'Alene, Nez Perce, Shoshone-Bannock, Paiute. Have the students record these six tribes in their journals. Discuss which tribe is nearest to where they live? Are there any Indian Reservations nearby?
  • PAUSE right after she says: "How would development change an area's geography?" Have the students record one or two answers to this question in their journals. Give them roughly 30 seconds to do so.
  • PAUSE right after she says: "Why do you think Idaho's capital was moved from Lewiston to Boise?" Have students pull out their "Map of Idaho Counties". Have them locate Lewiston and Boise. Repeat the question, "Why do you think Idaho's capital was moved from Lewiston to Boise?" Allow 4 to 6 students to answer the question. Do not give clues as to what the right answer is. Inform them that the video will tell them the answer. Press PLAY.
  • PAUSE right after she says: "Can you name the most famous crop grown in the Snake River Basin?" Ask the students, "How do you think the Snake River got its name?" Allow a couple of students to answer. Ask the students "Can you name the most famous crop grown in the Snake River Basin?" Allow 4 to 6 students to answer. Write their answers on the board. Inform them that the video will answer the question.
  • PAUSE right after she says: "Can you think of other ways that humans have changed the environment?" Have the students answer the question in their journals. Give them roughly 30 seconds to do so. FAST FORWARD until she begins talking again (scene with mountains and clouds). Press PLAY.
  • PAUSE right after she says: "What's the difference between a city and a county?" Repeat the question. Have students answer it and then have them record the answer in their journals. What city do they live in? What county? Have them record this information in their journals. Press PLAY.
  • STOP right after she says: "...when these trees were just starting to grow?"

Culminating Activity

Activity #6 Computer-Generated Maps                                                       10 or 20 min.
If possible, have each student do this task individually to save time. If there are not enough computers, have students pair up. Have students go to http://www.mapquest.com. Tell them to click on "Maps". Tell them to enter their addresses and click on "Get Map". A map will appear on the screen. There is a zoom bar to the right of the picture. They can zoom all the way in to get a map of the streets near their home and all the way out to get a map of the United States.

Have students get a map for their neighborhood, city, Idaho, and the United States. After resizing the maps, the pictures will be able to fit in their journals. When they have the map they want, have them right click on it and select "Copy". Open a word or paint program. In the word or paint program, have them right click again and select "Paste". They can resize the picture to make it fill up half a page.

After students have gathered all four pictures onto two pages, have them print them, cut them out, and paste them in their journals. Tell them to write what each map is showing underneath each picture. Allow all of the students to do the activity before going onto the next activity.

Introductory Activities
Activity #7 Reading Topographic Maps  
                                                      20 - 30 min.
Topographic maps are another way of looking at the landscape. Topographic maps give more details about the surface structure than many other maps do. Contour lines connect points of the same elevation. The closer together contour lines are, the steeper the slope; the further apart the lines, the more gradual the slope. Contour lines on a map are placed at equal intervals. A map key will provide a scale. For example, a scale of 1:200 ft means that every line depicts a difference of 200 feet in comparison to the lines next to it. Relate all of the aforementioned information to your students. Hand out the "How to Read a Topographic Map" packet (attachment), one to each student.

Complete the packet beforehand to become familiar with it. Students can work alone, in pairs, or as groups to fill out the worksheets. While the students are doing the worksheets, circulate throughout the room and answer any questions they may have. In pairs, have students go back to the computers. Tell them to go to http://www.topozone.com When the screen is pulled up, tell them to note the search utility entitled "Place Name Search". Encourage them to experiment with it, typing in different cities and states. Allow them to do this for approximately three minutes. They will need to know how to use this for their final presentations.

Learning Activities
Activity # 8 Video: Proceedings on Visions of Idaho; Geology               20 - 30 min.
Proceedings on Visions of Idaho; Geology is a video produced by IdahoPTV for educational purposes. It informs students on the geological features of Idaho, including historical information. The entire video, from the point where you are told to cue it to the point where you are told to stop it lasts approximately 12 minutes. However, during the video it is important to pause and discuss it. Therefore, this activity can take anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes. Leave the lights on during the video, so students will view it as a learning activity and not a form of entertainment. Also, they will be writing in their journals and will need to be able to see. Prior to showing the video inform students that they will be watching this video as a wrap-up of their information on the geography and geology of Idaho.

  • Before showing the video to the class, CUE it right before the woman begins talking. Press PLAY to begin.
  • PAUSE right after she says: "Why does it look like this?" Have the students answer the following two questions in their journals: 1.) Why do you suppose they call this Craters of the Moon? 2.) Why does it look like this? Give them roughly 1 minute to do so. Push: PLAY.
  • PAUSE right after she says: "Can you think of another place in or near Idaho where the earth's crust is thin?" Chances are that very few students will know the answer to this. Repeat this question to the class. Allow 4 to 6 students to raise their hands and answer the question. Do not give clues to whether they or right or wrong. Write their answers on the board. Tell them that the video is going to tell them the answer. Press PLAY.
  • PAUSE right after she says: "How do you think people use geothermal water?" Did anyone answer the previous question right? Ask how many students have been to Yellowstone National Park. Have them write this in their journals. Repeat the question, "How do you think people use geothermal water?" Have 4 to 6 students answer the question. Write their answers on the board. Inform them that the video will tell them. Press PLAY.
  • PAUSE right after she says: "Is it close to where you live?" Have students mark on their "Map of Idaho" Counties roughly where the batholith is located. Inform them that they can color it in later if they wish. Give them approximately 20 seconds to do so. Press PLAY.
  • PAUSE right after she says: "One of the things the Missoula flood left behind was Lake Pend Orielle." Have the students locate Lake Pend Orielle on their "Map of Idaho Counties". Do they think the flood would have affected them where they live? Why or why not? Have a small discussion, pointing out how close or far away they axe from Lake Pend Orielle. Press PLAY.
  • PAUSE right after she says: "Did the Bonneville flood leave any rocks near where you live?" Ask the students why they think it is called the Bonneville flood? Have them locate Bonneville County on their maps. Ask the students if they think the flood would have affected them where they live? Why or why not? Have a small discussion, pointing out how close or far away they are from Bonneville County. Press PLAY.
  • STOP right after she says: "...but no one really knows when." Pull out a map of Idaho. Have a student show the class where Mt. Borah is located. How close is it to where they live? Would it have affected them if they were alive in 1983? Have the students mark where Mt. Borah is on their "Map of Idaho Counties".

Culminating Activity/Assessment
Activity #9 Posters of Idaho                                                           Approx. l 1/2hrs. of in-class time
Posters of Idaho are great tools for students to show what they have learned. At the same time, they can be as creative as they want. Provide each student with a poster board or have them bring one from home. Inform them that they are to draw a large picture of Idaho, taking up almost the entire poster board. On this poster board they must include everything they have learned about Idaho.          

Write on the board that they are to include all of the physical things they know about Idaho (such as counties, cities, mountains, etc.). In addition, they must include the major events discussed in the videos, such as the earthquakes, volcanoes, etc. Make the videos accessible to the students for review.            

Finally, have the students draw a topographic map of one small area of their map by using http://www.topozone.com. Encourage them to print off a couple of maps from http://www.mapguest.com to paste to their posters.

After the students have had adequate time to complete their posters (30 minutes in class and at least four days out of class), post them around the room. Have students who are willing share their posters with the classroom. For those who don't want to share with class, have them tell you about their posters individually. Collect journals, as well, to check for completeness.

Extensions
Art

  • Have students make a model of Idaho out of materials, such as clay, pebbles, and paint. To make a light model that can hang on the wall, they can shape Idaho by using a mixture of shaving cream and glue. Each student can be assigned a county or students can make their own models.
  • Have students make volcanoes that erupt. The volcanoes are made out of clay. Make them on a large surface, such as a large piece of cardboard. The students should paint them and allow them to dry. To make the volcanoes erupt, have the students scoop a tablespoon of baking soda into their volcanoes. Then add vinegar and watch them flow over!

Music

  • A fun way to wrap up the unit is to use music, a subject that many students may relate to. Go to http://www.50states.com/songs/idaho.htrn, where you can find a MIDI for "Here We Have Idaho". There is nothing to download. By just clicking on the link, the song should start playing. Give each student a copy of the words to "Here We Have Idaho". Practice the song to the background music at least twice. Inform students of where they can find the MIDI.
  • Research musicians from Idaho. Students can research and report their findings back to the class.

Dance

  • There are six Native American tribes that are from Idaho: Kootenai, Kalispel, Coeur d'Alene, Nez Perce, Shoshone-Bannock, and Paiute. Research dances that are performed within the tribes and teach the dance to the students.

Reading

  • There are several books about Idaho and authors that are from Idaho, even picture books. You can use these books in your classroom to supplement the lesson.

Math

  • A very authentic way of studying Idaho through math is to have students create charts or graphs of different things in Idaho. They can plot the population of Idaho in comparison to other states, the number of one ethnicity in relation to other ethnicities in Idaho, the different exports and imports of Idaho and so forth.

Community Connections:

In every community throughout Idaho, there are geographical features that students can visit and explore. If time does not permit, students can explore these features outside of class, take pictures, and return to class with pictures to share.

If at all possible, it would be great to wrap up this lesson with a field trip to a site in Idaho. Also, you may wish to have students record in their journals things that they see until the end of the school year.


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