United States Presidents is a one-semester social studies class for 5th – 7th graders. We will use Professor Wise’s Expedition Guide to the U.S. Presidents, a curriculum written by Debra Bell, in this project-based course, as students become Discovery Corps Scouts. Scouts earn points through completing weekly assignments and projects about the Presidents. Scouts that earn a minimum of 1050 points will receive a bronze award and a certificate of completion, and scouts that go above and beyond the call of duty will earn additional rewards. This is considered a history course, but through completing various projects, students will use numerous English skills, improving their reading and writing along the way.
- Read short biographies about each President 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 time-line visual project with basic facts about all 45 U.S. Presidents.
- Prepare a “Presidents and States” map (showing which states were added during which Presidency). Additional points can be earned for also creating a Presidential Landmark map showing Presidential birthplaces, libraries, or historic sites associated with each President.
- Read nonfiction books (biographies) or watch documentaries about specific Presidents, 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) about a topic related to the Presidency. Additional papers will earn even more points toward the top rewards.
- Prepare and present at least one oral presentation about a topic related to the Presidency. (Additional presentations will earn even more points toward the top rewards.)
- Prepare and share one creative project about a topic related to the Presidency, such as a scrapbook, poster, game, or script for a skit. (Additional presentations will earn even more points toward the top rewards.) Note: Students can substitute a different project with parental permission, rather than completing 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 related to a President and prepare 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 Presidents covered each week.
- Lastly, students will have opportunity to take tests in which they must have memorized the order of the Presidents, along with a few basic facts about each. It’s up to the parents to decide if their student will be required to take these tests.
A typical lesson consists of reading a passage about a President in the text, answering the comprehension questions related to it, and preparing an entry for that President on the Timeline Project. Additional time needs to be devoted to the various projects, but that can be arranged whenever it best suits the student, rather than on a particular day.
All work will be posted on Canvas. A live class takes place each week, but it will be recorded for students that can’t attend at that time.
Who should apply?
The class is open to all 5th through 7th graders that are ready for an online class.
- High speed, broadband Internet
- headset and microphone (for live sessions)
- Streaming video capabilities to watch recorded lectures
Evaluation and Feedback
This class is very much based on the quantity of work, rather than the quality, as students will earn full credit for completion of the exercises and projects. Students that do especially outstanding work (by quality, not quantity) would earn a “star of distinction” in addition to the bronze, silver, or gold medal. (If a student seems to be not doing his or her best on assignments, I will contact the parent as well as the student.) I do provide feedback about all projects, so that students can learn from their mistakes, but they are not expected to revise or edit any of their work, as they do in my English classes.
Parents will receive a “welcome” packet from me once they register for the course. I email parents if students seem to be struggling or not staying on top of the work. Parents are welcome to email me at any time.