Our Fifty States is a one-semester (Spring) social studies class for 5th – 7th graders. A live class will take place on Zoom, and further instruction and assignments will be designated through the Canvas website. We use Professor Wise’s Expedition Guide to Our 50 States, a curriculum written by Debra Bell. In this project-based course, students become Discovery Corps Scouts and learn both the history and geography of the U.S. states. Scouts earn points through completing weekly assignments and projects about the fifty states. Scouts that earn a minimum of 1000 points will receive a certificate of completion, and scouts that go above and beyond the call of duty will earn additional rewards. This is a social studies course, but through completing several projects, students will use their English skills, improving their reading and writing along the way.
- Read short passages about each state in our text, completing comprehension questions.
- Learn new vocabulary words as each section will include 4-6 vocabulary words, and students will complete review exercises to practice these words.
- Complete a visual project with basic facts about all 50 states, divided into regions.
- Prepare a “States and Capitals” map. Additional points can be earned for also creating a State Landmark map showing the three largest cities (by population) of each state, major rivers and bodies of water, major mountain ranges, and top U.S. landmarks, including national parks and historic places of interest.
- Read nonfiction books or watch documentaries about specific states, completing a book or media report for each. (At least one must be completed for the certificate, but additional reports will earn students even more points.)
- Write at least one short research paper (1-2 pages, the length depends on the grade of the student) on a specific state or from the list of general topics. Additional papers will earn even more points toward the top rewards.
- Prepare and present at least one oral presentation on a specific state or from the list of general topics. (Additional presentations will earn even more points toward the top rewards.)
- Prepare and share one creative project, such as a scrapbook, poster, game, or script for a skit on a specific state or from the list of general topics. (Additional presentations will earn even more points toward the top rewards.)
- Optional: prepare a “My State Notebook” or slide presentation (such as Power Point) with information about the state where the student lives; this notebook/slide presentation would be shared in class.
Note: Students may substitute the state project or a different project with parental permission, rather than doing a paper, speech, and creative project during the semester.
- Students can also earn points by completing “field work” in which they visit a historical site such as a state museum, state historical site, or state natural resource or geographical site and then write a field work report. This can earn additional rewards, or also substitute for the paper, speech, and project with parental permission.
- During class, we will have discussions and play games to review facts about the states covered each week.
- Lastly, students will have opportunity to take quizzes with basic facts about the states by region, including memorizing the capitals for each state. It’s up to the parents to decide if their student will be required to take these quizzes.