Are you wondering what to do with your 4th grade students during the first week of Texas History? You came to the right place!
If you are a 4th grade Texas History teacher, or soon to be, I’d like to share with you how I started the school year.
Though I taught a 4th grade self-contained classroom, meaning I taught all subjects each day, I think taking time during the first week of school to set expectations for each subject lets our students know what is to come.
Day 1 of Texas History
During the first day, I always took the time to set up our Texas History interactive notebooks. This meant making sure each student had a notebook. I personally prefer composition books because they seem to hold up better throughout the year, but any notebook will work.
We start by labeling our notebook and gluing in the first few pages which include a table of contents, history about me page, and sentence stems to aid students in responding to information throughout the school year. Then, we very carefully, write in our page numbers. I usually try to lead students through labeling the page numbers one page at a time. We only label the right-hand page where we will be gluing our INB activities, leaving the left-hand page for student responses.
You can check out the Interactive Notebook Start-Up Kit I used here.
Day 2 of Texas History
Day 2 of class it is time to get to know what our students know and whether some common misconceptions have taken root.
Personally, I like to gamify this a bit and use cooperative learning strategies to help students get to know one another at the same time.
To do this, I start by asking students to name the cardinal directions. We then determine which direction is North and label the room with all four cardinal directions. Following this, we play a round of “Four Directions,” which is played just like four corners with get to know you questions.
For example, I might say:
What is your favorite pet?
Students show their answer by traveling to the sign that best fits them and then have a few minutes to discuss why they chose that response with their peers who also chose it.
This is a great way to practice cardinal directions as well as allow students to see what they have in common. We leave these signs up all year long and refer to them often.
Day 3 of Texas History
Time to get started on the content! Our first unit of study in Texas History is Map Skills and Geography. I use this unit from top to bottom. Most of this unit should be a review for 4th graders, but sometimes they are missing some vocabulary or knowledge and now is the time to fix it up.
We start the unit by reviewing the continents and oceans of the world with a PowerPoint and create our own maps to put in our interactive notebooks, of course adding them to our table of contents.
From there we move closer to home with a map of the United States. We label Texas and all the surrounding states on the map as well as any other states students know from having visited or living there. This usually amounts to another 5-10 states. I choose not to label ALL of the states at once because I want students to have a chance to actually know what state is where not just memorize a list of states.
We finish off the day with a map of Texas and label Austin, the capital, as well as our city and other cities students can name.
This is A LOT to fit into one day, but it works!
Day 4 of Texas History
Day 4 is the day we dive in deeper and break out my absolute favorite cooperative learning activity, the Jigsaw or Expert Groups!
We use this strategy all year long and I love to introduce it in the first week of school to set the tone for Texas History from the very beginning.
To get us started we complete the 7 Continents Jigsaw. Students break into groups and become experts on their assigned continent. It is then their job to teach the rest of the class the necessary information.
You can read more about the Jigsaw Strategy here. There is also an opportunity to grab the Continents Jigsaw for free.
This is a lot to do in one day, especially the first time using the strategy, so we usually break it into two.
Day 5 of Texas History
On the last day of the first week of Texas History I give my students the stage!
The expert groups that were established on day 4 present their information on the continents to the class. they usually prepare a visual to go along with their lesson. The audience is responsible for being active listeners, asking questions, and taking notes on their learning.
Following all the presentations students are responsible for taking a short, ten question, assessment to show their knowledge.
During the first week of school, you are setting the tone for the whole year. It is important you give your students a taste of what to expect throughout the year.
To achieve this, I aim to include all the types of activities including PowerPoints, interactive notebooks, and cooperative learning that we will continue to use throughout the year!
Want More Texas History Goodness?
Subscribe to get our latest content by email along with tips on how to rock Texas History content!