Today we learned about the first Thanksgiving and why the Pilgrims came to the New World. Before we began, I asked everyone what words came to mind when they heard the word, “Thanksgiving.” The words “turkey,” “family,” and “dinner” were called out by our students. I wrote these on the board.
As I told the story of the history of Thanksgiving, I drew pictures on the dry erase board to help illustrate key points I wanted our students to know and remember. In this case, I started with England on the right side of the dry erase board and moved westward, to the New World. New vocabulary was introduced and explained as we progressed through the story. We also paused for a three-minute video about Thanksgiving that included captions.
After sitting for a while, I asked everyone to stand up in a small group. Speaking doesn’t just happen when sitting in a classroom setting, after all. The students took turns sharing a sentence or two about the picture to tell the story in chronological order. I then challenged each student to tell the entire story independently.
Later, the students were given time to write their stories in their notebooks and have their teacher check them. Interestingly, the students repeated common errors when reading their stories aloud despite reading their own (corrected) writing; however, progress was still made. At first, when I asked what came to mind when they heard the word, “Thanksgiving,” only three words came to mind. Now they are able to talk about the history of Thanksgiving. One of the students commented that the story map was helpful for being able to talk about and write about this topic. Overall, I would consider this lesson to be a success!