Last summer, I had the privilege to represent Nevada at the Mount Vernon Teacher's Institute which was hands-down one of the best professional developments I've ever attended.
We spent a week living at Mount Vernon and learning all about the life of George Washington. Since I studied political science and political theory, this was a dream come true. I got to be surrounded by so much history and engage in amazing conversations with other like minded history nerds :)
However, reality set in: it's hard to get fifth graders excited about history. So with a little help from this video, they were hooked. We did a four week unit on the American Revolution and analyzed primary source documents (the Declaration of Independence & the Constitution) to look at text features and text structures. We analyzed multiple perspectives with the help of this graphic organizer snagged from pinterest.
We read a plethora of informational, historical nonfiction and picture books, including some of my all-time favorites:
My students picked a side, researched their person, then had a "meet and greet" with other persons in the colonies.
We then re-enacted battles outside, highlighting the difference in fighting styles. The redcoats lined up and had to remain linked to their partner as they marched down the field. The rebels were free to work independently, simulating gorilla warfare.
We then compared and contrasted the uniforms, weaponry and fighting styles.
Students analyze maps of the colonies and create their own battle plans. After the war, I had students work in groups to create a new government, linking nicely into the Continental Congress and the founding of our country.
I wish I could teach social studies all day long :)