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Discovering Descriptions

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Summary

Students will learn about the Corps of Discovery, and will familiarize themselves with the journal writings of Lewis and Clark. They will practice writing precise descriptions in this same style.

Coin Type(s)

  • Quarter

Coin Program(s)

  • 50 State Quarters

Objectives

  • Students will learn about the Corps of Discovery, and will familiarize themselves with the journal writings of Lewis and Clark.
  • They will practice writing precise descriptions in this same style.

Major Subject Area Connections

  • Language Arts
  • Social Studies

Minor/supporting Subject Area Connections

  • Art

Grades

  • Fourth grade
  • Fifth grade
  • Sixth grade

Class Time

Sessions: Three
Session Length: 45-60 minutes
Total Length: 121-150 minutes

Groupings

  • Whole group
  • Pairs
  • Individual work

Background Knowledge

Students should have a basic knowledge of:

  • The order in which states were admitted to the union
  • The Louisiana Purchase
  • Writing directions

Terms and Concepts

  • Corps of Discovery
  • Lewis and Clark
  • Descriptive writing
  • Cardinal Directions

Materials

  • 1 overhead projector (optional)
  • 1 overhead transparency (or photocopy) of the Missouri quarter reverse
  • 1 class map of the United States of America
  • 1 overhead transparency (or photocopy) of the Louisiana quarter reverse (see page 22 of the 2002 50 State Quarters® Program lesson plans, grades 2–3, lesson 3: Mapping America)
  • 1 overhead transparency (or photocopy) of the Louisiana Purchase map (see page 19 of the 2002 50 State Quarters Program lesson plans, grades 2–3, lesson 3: Mapping America)
  • Copies of age-appropriate texts about the adventures of the Corps of Discovery, such as:
    • On the Trail of Lewis and Clark: A Journey Up the Missouri River by Peter Lourie
    • How We Crossed the West: The Adventures of Lewis and Clark by Rosalyn Schanzer
    • The Back of Beyond: A Story About Lewis and Clark (Creative Minds Biographies Series)  by Andy Russell Bowen
    • The Lewis and Clark Expedition by Patricia Ryan Quini
    • Off the Map—The Journals of Lewis and Clark edited by Peter and Connie Roop
    • The Incredible Journey of Lewis and Clark  by Rhoda Blumberg
  • Chart paper
  • Markers
  • Descriptive excerpts from the Corps of Discovery journals
  • Lined writing paper
  • Copies of the “Our Secret Spot” worksheet
  • Crayons and/or colored pencils

 

Preparations

  • Make an overhead transparency (or photocopy) of the Missouri and Louisiana quarter reverses.
  • Locate a text about the adventures of the Corps of Discovery (See examples under “Materials”).
  • Locate excerpts from the Corps of Discovery journals where the landscape and the inhabitants of a particular area are described clearly. Copies of these journals are available to the public online.
  • Arrange for several adult volunteers to assist with supervision of students on the third day of this activity.

Worksheets and Files

Lesson plan, worksheet(s), and rubric (if any) at www.usmint.gov/kids/teachers/lessonPlans/pdf/339.pdf.

Prior to conducting this lesson, it is suggested that teachers introduce students to the Louisiana Territory through the 2002 Louisiana quarter lesson plan that is part of this series.

Session 1

  1. Describe the 50 State Quarters Program for background information, if necessary, using the example of your own state, if available. Then display the transparency or photocopy of the Missouri quarter reverse. Select a student to locate Missouri on a classroom map. Note its position in relation to your school’s location.
  2. With the students, examine the design on this coin’s reverse. As a class, identify the objects on the coin’s reverse: the Gateway Arch that now stands in St. Louis, MO, and three men paddling down the river in a canoe. 
    Note: At this point, take the opportunity to explain that the Gateway Arch is a recent structure and it did not exist during this time of exploration. It is a symbol of the growth of our country.
  3. Examine the words “Corps of Discovery” and explain that this was a name used by the team of American explorers who left from St. Charles, Missouri, to travel westward and explore this new territory.
  4. Using the outline of the Louisiana quarter, review the idea that the land purchased as a part of the Louisiana Purchase meant that there were new places within the United States for people to explore and where people could live.
  5. Using the classroom map, once again point out the location of Missouri. Display the Louisiana Purchase map transparency to show the outline of the United States after the purchase of the Louisiana Territory.
  6. Drawing from previous knowledge, ask students to name some of the states that were part of the United States before Missouri (reference the 50 State Quarters Program and note that the states whose quarters were released before Missouri’s were already part of the union). Students should notice that all of these states lie on the eastern half of the United States.

Session 2

  1. Place students in pairs and distribute an appropriate children’s text about the adventures of the Corps of Discovery to each pair.
  2. Direct the students to read this text quietly with their partners.

Session 3

  1. With the students, revisit the story about the Corps of Discovery. Conduct a Think-Pair-Share session to determine what students know about the Lewis and Clark expedition (The Corps of Discovery) and what these men were sent west to do.
  2. As students share their information, record all comments on chart paper for the entire class to see. Students should note that Lewis and Clark were sent to explore this land and to find the fastest route to the west for purposes of commerce. If not mentioned by the students, explain that while on this expedition, President Jefferson requested that these men take notes on what they saw.
  3. Provide students with excerpts from Lewis and Clark’s journals where they describe the landscape and the inhabitants of a particular area. Direct students to read these excerpts either silently, or aloud with a partner.
    Note: This would be an appropriate opportunity to introduce or review the importance of primary source documents with the students.
  4. Ask students to share what they noticed about these notes. Students should note the precise descriptions and should be able to imagine what the area looked like in the early 1800s. Why do the students think that Lewis and Clark took such care with their writings? Answers should include the idea that these men were precise with their writings so that people unfamiliar with their travels would be able to follow along their trail exactly, and know what types of encounters they should expect.
  5. Invite students to imagine that they have a friend visiting from out of town that wants to come to your classroom. Ask, “If this friend was dropped off in front of the school, what information would your students need to give in order for their friend to find their classroom? What additional information would your students give to be sure that their friends are in the correct classroom?”
  6. Supply students with a very vague description of a spot within the school, such as the lunch room or the gymnasium. Distribute lined paper to the students and direct them to write a description of how to get to this location from your classroom, what someone might encounter along the way, and a complete description of the room. Encourage students to use cardinal directions to help others navigate to this location.
  7. Invite several students to read their descriptions to the class. Discuss the information students included in order to best describe this location.

Session 4

  1. Divide students into pairs and direct each pair to select a secret location, within the school, that they know very well.
  2. Direct students to go to their location and take careful notes on how they got to their location and what they saw along the way and in the actual spot. Again, remind the students to use cardinal directions to describe their journey. Give the students an appropriate time limit by which they must return to the classroom. 
    Note: This activity will work best with the support of adult volunteers, particularly if school rules do not allow for students to leave their classrooms unaccompanied. If this is the case, and adult volunteers are unavailable, direct students to work from their memories of this location.
  3. When students return to the classroom, distribute one copy of the “Our Secret Spot” worksheet to each pair.
  4. Direct students to use their best writing to incorporate their notes into a complete description of this secret location. Students will also need to illustrate several important features of their spot on this worksheet.
  5. Once complete, each pair will read their description to the class, and will accept guesses as to the location being described. The person who made this guess will explain what pieces of information helped to determine the correct location.

Differentiated Learning Options

  • Allow students to create a computer presentation to share the descriptions about their secret locations.
  • Allow students to use a digital or video camera to record images seen on the way to their secret spot. At the end of this presentation, suggest that students include a multiple choice question for the reader to answer about the location of their secret spot.

Enrichments/Extensions

  • Add a “Descriptive Writing” activity center to your classroom. In this center, cut, glued and numbered several magazine pictures onto a separate pieces of construction paper. Direct students to select one of the pictures and clearly describe it on a piece of lined writing paper. They will then write the number of the picture on the back of their description, so that other students can look through all of the images and try to determine which one was being described.
  • Invite the students to pretend they are journalists writing articles about the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
  • Invite interested students to research the nickname “Gateway to the West” and the Gateway Arch. Why was this name given to the Arch? Why was this monument placed in St. Louis? What interesting information can they find about this monument? Compare and contrast this information to a monument in their home town or state.

Use the worksheets and class participation to assess whether the students have met the lesson objectives.

There are no related resources for this lesson plan.

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: RL.4 Reading: Literature
Grade(s): Grade 4
Cluster: Craft and Structure
Standards:

  • RL.4.4. Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including those that allude to significant characters found in mythology (e.g., Herculean).
  • RL.4.5. Explain major differences between poems, drama, and prose, and refer to the structural elements of poems (e.g., verse, rhythm, meter) and drama (e.g., casts of characters, settings, descriptions, dialogue, stage directions) when writing or speaking about a text.
  • RL.4.6. Compare and contrast the point of view from which different stories are narrated, including the difference between first- and third-person narrations.

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: RL.4 Reading: Literature
Grade(s): Grade 4
Cluster: Integration of Knowledge and Ideas
Standards:

  • RL.4.7. Make connections between the text of a story or drama and a visual or oral presentation of the text, identifying where each version reflects specific descriptions and directions in the text.
  • RL.4.8. not applicable to literature.
  • RL.4.9. Compare and contrast the treatment of similar themes and topics (e.g., opposition of good and evil) and patterns of events (e.g., the quest) in stories, myths, and traditional literature from different cultures.

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: RL.4 Reading: Literature
Grade(s): Grade 4
Cluster: Key Ideas and Details
Standards:

  • RL.4.1. Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
  • RL.4.2. Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text; summarize the text.
  • RL.4.3. Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character’s thoughts, words, or actions).

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: RL.5 Reading: Literature
Grade(s): Grade 4
Cluster: Craft and Structure
Standards:

  • RL.5.4. Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative language such as metaphors and similes.
  • RL.5.5. Explain how a series of chapters, scenes, or stanzas fits together to provide the overall structure of a particular story, drama, or poem.
  • RL.5.6. Describe how a narrator’s or speaker’s point of view influences how events are described.

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: RL.5 Reading: Literature
Grade(s): Grade 4
Cluster: Integration of Knowledge and Ideas
Standards:

  • RL.5.7. Analyze how visual and multimedia elements contribute to the meaning, tone, or beauty of a text (e.g., graphic novel, multimedia presentation of fiction, folktale, myth, poem).
  • RL.5.8. not applicable to literature.
  • RL.5.9. Compare and contrast stories in the same genre (e.g., mysteries and adventure stories) on their approaches to similar themes and topics.

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: RL.5 Reading: Literature
Grade(s): Grade 4
Cluster: Key Ideas and Details
Standards:

  • RL.5.1. Quote accurately from a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
  • RL.5.2. Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic; summarize the text.
  • RL.5.3. Compare and contrast two or more characters, settings, or events in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., how characters interact).

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: RL.6 Reading: Literature
Grade(s): Grade 4
Cluster: Craft and Structure
Standards:

  • RL.6.4. Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of a specific word choice on meaning and tone.
  • RL.6.5. Analyze how a particular sentence, chapter, scene, or stanza fits into the overall structure of a text and contributes to the development of the theme, setting, or plot.
  • RL.6.6. Explain how an author develops the point of view of the narrator or speaker in a text.

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: RL.6 Reading: Literature
Grade(s): Grade 4
Cluster: Integration of Knowledge and Ideas
Standards:

  • RL.6.7. Compare and contrast the experience of reading a story, drama, or poem to listening to or viewing an audio, video, or live version of the text, including contrasting what they “see” and “hear” when reading the text to what they perceive when they listen or watch.
  • RL.6.8. not applicable to literature.
  • RL.6.9. Compare and contrast texts in different forms or genres (e.g., stories and poems; historical novels and fantasy stories) in terms of their approaches to similar themes and topics.

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: RL.6 Reading: Literature
Grade(s): Grade 4
Cluster: Key Ideas and Details
Standards:

  • RL.6.1. Cite textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
  • RL.6.2. Determine a theme or central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details; provide a summary of the text distinct from personal opinions or judgments.
  • RL.6.3. Describe how a particular story’s or drama’s plot unfolds in a series of episodes as well as how the characters respond or change as the plot moves toward a resolution.

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: SL.4 Speaking and Listening
Grade(s): Grade 4
Cluster: Comprehension and Collaboration
Standards:

  • SL.4.1. Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 4 topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.
    • Come to discussions prepared, having read or studied required material; explicitly draw on that preparation and other information known about the topic to explore ideas under discussion.
    • Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions and carry out assigned roles.
    • Pose and respond to specific questions to clarify or follow up on information, and make comments that contribute to the discussion and link to the remarks of others.
    • Review the key ideas expressed and explain their own ideas and understanding in light of the discussion.
  • SL.4.2. Paraphrase portions of a text read aloud or information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
  • SL.4.3. Identify the reasons and evidence a speaker provides to support particular points. 

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: SL.4 Speaking and Listening
Grade(s): Grade 4
Cluster: Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas
Standards:

  • SL.4.4. Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience in an organized manner, using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.
  • SL.4.5. Add audio recordings and visual displays to presentations when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or themes.
  • SL.4.6. Differentiate between contexts that call for formal English (e.g., presenting ideas) and situations where informal discourse is appropriate (e.g., small-group discussion); use formal English when appropriate to task and situation. (See grade 4 Language standards 1 for specific expectations.)

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: SL.5 Speaking and Listening
Grade(s): Grade 4
Cluster: Comprehension and Collaboration
Standards:

  • SL.5.1. Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 5 topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.
    • Come to discussions prepared, having read or studied required material; explicitly draw on that preparation and other information known about the topic to explore ideas under discussion.
    • Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions and carry out assigned roles.
    • Pose and respond to specific questions by making comments that contribute to the discussion and elaborate on the remarks of others.
    • Review the key ideas expressed and draw conclusions in light of information and knowledge gained from the discussions.
  • SL.5.2. Summarize a written text read aloud or information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
  • SL.5.3. Summarize the points a speaker makes and explain how each claim is supported by reasons and evidence.

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: SL.5 Speaking and Listening
Grade(s): Grade 4
Cluster: Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas
Standards:

  • SL.5.4. Report on a topic or text or present an opinion, sequencing ideas logically and using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.
  • SL.5.5. Include multimedia components (e.g., graphics, sound) and visual displays in presentations when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or themes.
  • SL.5.6. Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, using formal English when appropriate to task and situation. (See grade 5 Language standards 1 and 3 for specific expectations.)

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: SL.6 Speaking and Listening
Grade(s): Grade 4
Cluster: Comprehension and Collaboration
Standards:

  • SL.6.1. Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 6 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.
    • Come to discussions prepared, having read or studied required material; explicitly draw on that preparation by referring to evidence on the topic, text, or issue to probe and reflect on ideas under discussion.
    • Follow rules for collegial discussions, set specific goals and deadlines, and define individual roles as needed.
    • Pose and respond to specific questions with elaboration and detail by making comments that contribute to the topic, text, or issue under discussion.
    • Review the key ideas expressed and demonstrate understanding of multiple perspectives through reflection and paraphrasing.
  • SL.6.2. Interpret information presented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and explain how it contributes to a topic, text, or issue under study.
  • SL.6.3. Delineate a speaker’s argument and specific claims, distinguishing claims that are supported by reasons and evidence from claims that are not.

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: SL.6 Speaking and Listening
Grade(s): Grade 4
Cluster: Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas
Standards:

  • SL.6.4. Present claims and findings, sequencing ideas logically and using pertinent descriptions, facts, and details to accentuate main ideas or themes; use appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation.
  • SL.6.5. Include multimedia components (e.g., graphics, images, music, sound) and visual displays in presentations to clarify information.
  • SL.6.6. Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate. (See grade 6 Language standards 1 and 3 for specific expectations.)

Discipline: Social Studies
Domain: All Thematic Standards
Cluster: Time, Continuity, and Change
Grade(s): Grades K–12
Standards:

Teachers should:

  • assist learners to understand that historical knowledge and the concept of time are socially influenced constructions that lead historians to be selective in the questions they seek to answer and the evidence they use
  • help learners apply key concepts such as time, chronology, causality, change, conflict, and complexity to explain, analyze, and show connections among patterns of historical change and continuity
  • enable learners to identify and describe significant historical periods and patterns of change within and across cultures, including but not limited to, the development of ancient cultures and civilizations, the emergence of religious belief systems, the rise of nation-states, and social, economic, and political revolutions
  • guide learners in using such processes of critical historical inquiry to reconstruct and interpret the past, such as using a variety of sources and checking their credibility, validating and weighing evidence for claims, searching for causality, and distinguishing between events and developments that are significant and those that are inconsequential
  • provide learners with opportunities to investigate, interpret, and analyze multiple historical and contemporary viewpoints within and across cultures related to important events, recurring dilemmas, and persistent issues, while employing empathy, skepticism, and critical judgment; and enable learners to apply ideas, theories, and modes of historical inquiry to analyze historical and contemporary developments, and to inform and evaluate actions concerning public policy issues.

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: All Language Arts Standards
Cluster: Use of Spoken, Written, and Visual Language
Grade(s): Grades K–12
Standards:

  • Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: All Language Arts Standards
Cluster: Effective Communication
Grade(s): Grades K–12
Standards:

  • Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.

Discipline: Social Studies
Domain: All Thematic Standards
Cluster: People, Places, and Environment
Grade(s): Grades K–12
Standards:

Teachers should:

  • Enable learners to use, interpret, and distinguish various representations of Earth such as maps, globes, and photographs, and to use appropriate geographic tools
  • Encourage learners to construct, use, and refine maps and mental maps, calculate distance, scale, area, and density, and organize information about people, places, regions, and environments in a spatial context
  • Help learners to locate, distinguish, and describe the relationships among varying regional and global patterns of physical systems such as landforms, climate, and natural resources, and explain changes in the physical systems
  • Guide learners in exploring characteristics, distribution, and migration of human populations on Earth’s surface
  • Have learners describe how people create places that reflect culture, human needs, current values and ideals, and government policies
  • Provide opportunities for learners to examine, interpret, and analyze interactions of human beings and their physical environments, and to observe and analyze social and economic effects of environmental changes, both positive and negative
  • Challenge learners to consider, compare, and evaluate existing uses of resources and land in communities, regions, countries, and the world
  • Direct learners to explore ways in which Earth’s physical features have changed over time, and describe and assess ways historical events have influenced and been influenced by physical and human geographic features

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