Tuesday, July 14, 2015


There are so many possibilities with this unit, and I don't do all of the same things every year, but I do use a couple of the same read a-louds.   I always begin the unit with a chart about character traits that they know about Columbus.  Using their schema, they normally give me the regular traits- hero, brave, curious, adventurous.  The next books I read paint a different side of Columbus.  Pedro's Journal is historical fiction by Pam Conrad.  

Pedro was an actual person on Columbus's Ship and was a cabin boy.  The journal is a mostly true description of the voyage.  The author did take some liberties because the journal was "incomplete."  It sheds a whole new light on Christopher Columbus. A great read-- and if you have time there are many activities for this book.

Our Standards for this unit are: 

4.1.3 Explain the political, economic, and  technological factors that led to the exploration of   the  new world by Spain, Portugal, France, the Netherlands, and England, including the competition between nations, the expansion of international trade, and the technological advances in shipbuilding and navigation. 

 Marco Polo isn't in our standards, but I feel he is important because he was a reason that many explorers were sailing.  They wanted to find the same spices and riches that he had. 
The video gives students  a glimpse of the time period and and how isolated the Europeans were from Asia.
Powerpoint  Kind of dry,  but parts can be used to make a tree map in their notebook, and the illustrations give kids an idea of what an astrolabe or caravel looked like. 
This document has good information and can be cut up to put into an interactive notebook. When I find myself not having the time for everyone to write the information down themselves, this is my back up. I do make sure that students read it with me before we glue it in.  To review, we will sometimes read the information aloud together again. 

When time lends itself for students to write the information themselves,  I found this example of an interactive notebook page  and really I found a ton of fantastic things on this site that I use through all my units.    
 I did find a great foldable that has a great connection to synonyms!  The unit is a free on TpT-- and I absolutely love to take any opportunity I can to incorporate ELA skills into my social studies.     

 When I finish with the book Pedro's journal, I read Encounter. 
 this is a great opportunity to discuss point of view being that the story is being told from a Taino Boy's Point of view.

Between those two books, we create a double bubble map. (another way to compare and contrast books-- I expose them to both the double bubble map and a Venn diagram throughout the year. )  

This becomes a major writing assignment for us as we discuss how to turn our graphic organizers into a five paragraph composition.

 4.1.4  Summarize the accomplishments of the Vikings and the Portuguese, Spanish, English, and French explorers, including Leif Eriksson, Columbus, Hernando de Soto, Magellan,
Henry Hudson, John Cabot, and La Salle.

 There are so many resources that support research for this standard. (Love the songs here)  And to be perfectly honest, that is what I do.  Each group becomes an expert on an explorer.  ( I normally model one to begin with)  We create a pocket for our notebook, and "trading cards."   Students are jigsawed (That will be another post) so that each person in every expert group is  placed in a new group.  From there, students share the new information and they complete new trading cards for the other explorers.  Once everyone has their cards completed, we will go over each explorer and create a map to go in their notebook for each explorer.  I like the maps on this free store item, so I  use them for the students.

Close Reads: 
 Conflict over North American Lands

Early Explorers
John Cabot interactive lesson and quiz 

Guided reading:
 Megellan plus a map

Leif Erikson 
Vikings   reading passages and assessments here-

The Ballad of Megellan
Hernando Desoto
The real story of Columbus
  • 4-2.1. 

    Summarize the cause-and-effect relationships of the Columbian Exchange.
Effects of European colonization
Video-- Effects of Columbian exchange