Fourth Grade Building Empathy for Others in Social Studies
Fourth graders have been studying American Indians, with an aim to having the boys see what life might have been like as an indigenous person, as well as having them consider the impact that others can have on a person’s life.
Using online database collections created by Sarah Kresberg in the Library, the boys began by researching five American Indian tribes – Iroquois, Navajo, Seminole, Cherokee, and Dakota Sioux. For each of these tribes, the boys had to consider the religion or spiritual rituals; education; clothing/attire; food; traditions; social classes/structure; the history, which included the arrival of settlers; and the natural resources available. Throughout this first step in the project, the boys learned important research skills such as note-taking, identifying the main idea, and summarizing, with the help of their fourth grade teachers, Sarah Luposello, Lorenzo Bellard, and Clarissa Crowley.
The boys had to research all five tribes because they weren’t sure which tribe they would be assigned to for the second step of the project. Once allocated a tribe, the boys worked in groups to design maps of their particular tribe’s territory based on their notes, highlighting all the natural resources. After sharing their maps with the whole class and understanding how each tribe was situated differently, simulations began with the tribes forced to face disaster scenarios.
Ms. Luposello and Mr. Bellard led the scenarios. For the first simulation, they played the role of the US Government, taking away sections of the tribes’ original land. The boys had to decide how to deal with the frustration of losing their land bit by bit and how they related to the settlers. Another simulation saw a woman fall sick with an unknown disease, with other family members slowly becoming ill too. Apparently, one tribe had the plant to cure it on their land. Quickly researching the symptoms to identify the disease the boys had to work out how they would contain it, come up with a cure and ultimately save their particular tribe.
During the scenario presentations, the tribes were given feedback on their presentation and observation skills, the accuracy of their historical facts and their creativity.
To complete the project the boys wrote a reflection piece.