A Natural and Cultural History of Thoreau Elementary School
Mehrnoosh Vejdani Watson, 2018
Thoreau Elementary School
Through a series of interdisciplinary activities, the second graders in my class will explore the past and present of our school building and grounds to gain a better understanding of their place in “the stream of time” that connects them to Henry David Thoreau, a man whose name identifies and labels their school. The students will engage in a unit of studies that will function as a string, weaving in and out of required second grade curricula to connect reading, writing, social studies, science, geography, and math. Its objective is to explore such concepts as change, interaction, nature/human relationship, time (past, present, and future), place, maps (birds-eye view), measuring with standard units, system (parts and whole), community, and making a difference (making history).
Although the common approach to teaching a unit is to limit its duration to a certain length of time, I create a flexible and organic process while integrating and adjusting the timing of each lesson to align it with the rest of the district curricula for second grade. I believe that an interdisciplinary and spiraling approach to learning always brings students to a higher level of understanding. I frequently employ this method while working with the children to deepen their level of reflection and elevate their discussions. As a result, rather than 5 short lessons, my unit includes several overarching activities stretched throughout the year, some of which take place over multiple sessions.