Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Colonial America - A Conceptual Approach to Migration, Movement and Settlement

One way to look at concept-based instruction involves students using a collection of sources and learning experiences to develop complex understanding of an idea.

In this example, I have pulled together the sources that we might use to understand migration, movement, and settlement during the earliest stages of European migration to the Western Hemisphere (many call this the colonial era). The tool I've used is ThingLink, a tool that I LOVE for so many reasons.  It allows a user to make interactive images.

As critical thinkers in my classroom, I want students to analyze a number of different sources. (If you're interested, view my blog post on Developing a Common Process for Analysis.)  This collection includes multiple maps and charts.  In addition, I've included a lesson that I would be teaching and a set of videos that might also inform student understanding.  The questions we are trying to answer are, "Who moved? Where did they go? Why?"

Historically, teachers have tried to make this a very clean answer - people moved for religious reasons and for economic opportunity.  YUCK! I can imagine someone having me read a few pages of a book and answering a few questions. DOUBLE YUCK!

When analyzing a variety of sources to answer this question, students have the opportunity to slow down and think critically to develop complex answers. As a teacher, I can open this single link on a SmartBoard and continually return to it each day. (If I'm in a 1:1 classroom, I can share this ThingLink with all students and they have all the resources in one place.)   When students and teachers return to the sources that are being used to learn about a concept, we have the opportunity to revisit our essential questions and elevate the conceptual language of geography and economics (big ideas, organizing concepts).

Here's the actual link to this ThingLink on Colonial America: Migration, Movement, and Settlement.

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