City History, City Streets

For students of 5th to graduate grade.

Objective: Students will learn a wide variety of facts about their city.

Intro set: Discuss the name of the street on which the school is located.  Is it named after a person, a place, an event? Why? Did it ever have a different name? What did it look like in the past? What sounds would have been heard there? 

Activity: Compile a list of the best-known streets in the city, and give one street name to each student.  Each student will research the street name and create a presentation to deliver to the class.  Additionally, each student will create three quiz questions based on their presentation.  The instructor will distill this list, and make a quiz for the class.  

Synthesis and check for understanding: Ask students to choose partners who have streets that are related in some way.  Partners tell the class what they have in common.  

More synthesis and check for understanding: Ask students to discuss the most interesting facts they heard in the presentations and add those facts to the quiz for next time.  

Check for understanding: Quiz students on facts that were presented.

An additional thought for this lesson would be to incorporate technology into it.  Since ths premise of this lesson is to have the students research streets within their own city, it would be great to have the students borrow a digital camera and take pictures of the street.  They could then add the pictures to a PowerPoint presentation to make the learning "real" to the other students.  They could analyze whether the street name actually reflected the street.  For example, if the street was "Elm", does it actually have elm trees on it?

As students are doing research on the name of their street, you could have them save the websites on a social bookmarking site such as del.ico.us.com.   Also, you might want to begin a wiki that the community could add to about the history of the town and some information about the streets and how they have changed over the years.

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I like this idea very much. I could use it in teaching art, when we talk about the units on Family and Self in kindergarten and first grade. They have a hard time with the perception of where they live and where places are.
What I would like to add is, well of course a little hands-on art to this activity.
If you have ever seen one of those "you are here" maps in a mall, then you know where I am going with this. 

As the teacher, you would be responsible for sizing this map. I would probably use a size close to bulletin board size. I would make the map, based on an internet print out from Rand McNally, Google Earth, and get a general layout of the immediate roads around the school and neighborhoods. I would use a camera and take pictures of the places students pass on their routes to and from school, especially those things along the roads that lead to the school.

I would place these places on the map, and as you talk about the origins of the roads, their names, etc., then you can have your students draw a model that represents their house and where they live in relation to the specified roads.
Have each student go to the map and place their drawing that represents their home.
Since you are using photographs instead of prints, it is more likely that the students will recognize the places that they see and pass by everyday coming and going away from school.

I think that it is an excellent way to teach them about their community.
Sheila