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More than Sand Dunes: Great Sand Dunes National Park

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Summary

Students will demonstrate descriptive and persuasive writing skills. Students will better understand park topography by constructing a three-dimensional model.

Coin Type(s)

  • Quarter

Coin Program(s)

  • America The Beautiful Quarters

Objectives

  • Students will demonstrate descriptive and persuasive writing skills.
  • Students will better understand park topography by constructing a three-dimensional model.

Major Subject Area Connections

  • Art
  • Language Arts
  • Social Studies

Grades

  • Fourth grade
  • Fifth grade
  • Sixth grade

Class Time

Sessions: Four
Session Length: 45-60 minutes
Total Length: 151-500 minutes

Groupings

  • Whole group
  • Small groups
  • Pairs
  • Individual work

Background Knowledge

Students should have a basic knowledge of:

  • Map skills
  • Descriptive writing
  • Persuasive writing

Terms and Concepts

  • Quarter
  • Obverse (front)
  • Reverse (back)
  • Topographic map
  • Geographic features
  • Recreational features
  • Three-dimensional model
  • Sand dunes
  • Wetlands
  • Grasslands
  • Alpine lakes
  • Tundra

Materials

Preparations

  • Make an overhead transparency or equivalent of each of the following:
    • "Great Sand Dunes National Park Quarter" page
    • "Describe and Persuade" worksheet
    • "Three-Dimensional Model" worksheet
    • "Describe and Persuade Rubric"
    • "Three-Dimensional Model Rubric"
  • Make copies of each of the following:
    • "Great Sand Dunes National Park Quarter" page (1 per student)
    • "Describe and Persuade" worksheet (1 per student)
    • "Three-Dimensional Model" worksheet (1 per student)
    • "Describe and Persuade Rubric" (1 per student)
    • "Three-Dimensional Model Rubric" (1 per student)
  • Bookmark an online topographic map of Great Sand Dunes National Park (see examples under "Materials").
  • Print images of Great Sand Dunes National Park (see examples under "Materials").
  • Make a two-column chart on chart paper titled "Features" and label the columns "Geographic" "Recreational" for Session 1.
  • Bookmark short videos of recreational opportunities at Great Sand Dunes National Park (see examples under "Materials").
  • Arrange to use the school computer lab for Session 1.
  • Bookmark Web sites that give information about the geographic and recreational features of Great Sand Dunes National Park (see examples under "Materials").
  • Gather materials to create three-dimensional models (see examples under "Materials").

Worksheets and Files

Session 1

  1. Take your students with their notebooks to the computer lab. Display and examine the "Great Sand Dunes National Park Quarter" page. Locate this site on a class map. Note its position in relation to your school’s location.
  2. As background information, explain to the students that the United States Mint began to issue the quarters in the America the Beautiful Quarters® Program in 2010. By the time the program ends in 2021, there will be a total of 56 quarter designs. Each design will focus on a different national site—one from each state, territory and the District of Columbia.
  3. Tell the students that the back of a coin is called the "reverse" and the front is called the "obverse." Ask the students to share their ideas about the image on the quarter’s reverse. If necessary, explain that the image shows a father and son playing in the sand next to a creek bed. The distinctive mountains and sand dunes of Great Sand Dunes National Park are featured in the background.
  4. Display an online or print version of a topographic map of Great Sand Dunes National Park. As a class, examine the map, noting the diverse geographic features within the park, including sand dunes, mountains, wetlands, grasslands, alpine lakes, creeks, forests and tundra. Discuss and define these geographic features as necessary. Ask the students to share geographic features they noticed on the map and record the students’ ideas on the "Features" class chart.
  5. Divide the class into small groups and distribute printed pictures of the diverse geographic features of Great Sand Dunes National Park, including sand dunes, mountains, wetlands, grasslands, alpine lakes, creeks, forests and tundra. Ask the groups to determine what geographic features are shown in their images.
  6. After a few minutes, ask the groups to share their pictures and describe the geographic feature with the rest of the students. Add to the "Geographic" column as needed. Lead a class discussion about why geographic diversity is important, pointing out that geographic diversity allows a wide range of animal and plant species to live in an area and provides many opportunities for human recreation.
  7. Ask the students to brainstorm ideas about what kinds of recreational activities might be available in a park with such diverse geographic features. Show students several short videos that describe the park’s most popular recreational activities, including sand surfing/sand sledding on the sand dunes, creek stomping at Medano Creek, and snow skiing and tubing. Ask the students to share what they found most interesting and surprising about the recreational opportunities at the park. Add to the "Recreational" column as needed.
  8. Divide the class into pairs. Using computers or tablet devices, provide time for the students to explore suggested Web sites that provide more information about Great Sand Dunes National Park. Have the students take notes about park features on notebook paper.
  9. Ask the students to share new information they learned about the park in their online research and add to the "Features" chart.

Session 2

  1. Review the geographic and recreational features of Great Sand Dunes National Park with the students, including the "Features" chart developed in Session 1.
  2. As a class, review the difference between descriptive and persuasive writing. Use the information students gathered about geographic and recreational features to craft descriptive and persuasive sentences as a model.
  3. Distribute one copy of the "Describe and Persuade" worksheet to each student. Review the directions together. Have the students complete the handout individually.
  4. Ask several of the students to share their descriptive and persuasive writing pieces aloud with the class. Lead a class discussion about the characteristics, purposes, usage, audience and general differences between these two types of writing.

Sessions 3 and 4

  1. Review the geographic and recreational features of Great Sand Dunes National Park with the students, including the "Features" chart developed in Session 1.
  2. Tell the students that they will be working in small groups to create three-dimensional models of Great Sand Dunes National Park. Review the definition of three-dimensional as being an object that has height, width and depth.
  3. Distribute the "Three-Dimensional Model" worksheet to each student. Review the directions together, including the checklist of required features. Show the students where they can locate materials that are available for this project.
  4. Allow time for the groups to plan and create their model. This may take more than one class session.
  5. Ask the groups to present their models to the class, noting how they created it and what features they selected to represent Great Sand Dunes National Park.
  6. Lead a class discussion about the model-making process. Ask the students to reflect on how they represented the diversity of the park through their model, worked together as a team and made collaborative decisions about the design of their model.

Differentiated Learning Options

  • Allow students to work with a partner or scribe.
  • Allow students extended time to complete work.
  • Allow students to complete their work using a computer or tablet device.

Enrichments/Extensions

  • Have students display their models in a common space within the school and invite parents and other classes to learn about the park by examining the models.
  • Have students create digital or paper travel brochures highlighting the diverse geographic and recreational features of the park. Incorporate descriptive and persuasive writing, maps and art into the travel brochures.
  • Have students work collaboratively to create a mural or topographic map of the park, depicting its unique and diverse features.
  • Have students develop a digital or paper board game about Great Sand Dunes National Park, detailing the many possibilities for exploration and adventure within the park.
  • Have students research other parks, particularly those in your area, that also feature diverse geographic and recreational features. Identify reasons why these places are able to support such diversity and consider what can be done to ensure these unique places are preserved.
  • Have students brainstorm ideas for new and unique recreational opportunities that could be made available at the park. Write a persuasive letter to the park rangers describing the new recreational activity and why you think it would be a good fit for Great Sand Dunes National Park.

Technology Extensions

Allow students to complete their work using a computer or tablet device.

  • Take anecdotal notes about the students’ participation in class discussions and group activities.
  • Use the attached rubrics to evaluate the students’ writing and three-dimensional models.

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: W.6 Writing
Grade(s): Grade 6
Cluster: Text Types and Purposes
Standards:

  • W.6.1. Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence.
    • Introduce claim(s) and organize the reasons and evidence clearly.
    • Support claim(s) with clear reasons and relevant evidence, using credible sources and demonstrating an understanding of the topic or text.
    • Use words, phrases, and clauses to clarify the relationships among claim(s) and reasons.
    • Establish and maintain a formal style.
    • Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from the argument presented.
  • W.6.2. Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content.
    • Introduce a topic; organize ideas, concepts, and information, using strategies such as definition, classification, comparison/contrast, and cause/effect; include formatting (e.g., headings), graphics (e.g., charts, tables), and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.
    • Develop the topic with relevant facts, definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples.
    • Use appropriate transitions to clarify the relationships among ideas and concepts.
    • Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to inform about or explain the topic.
    • Establish and maintain a formal style.
    • Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from the information or explanation presented.
  • W.6.3. Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, relevant descriptive details, and well-structured event sequences.
    • Engage and orient the reader by establishing a context and introducing a narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally and logically.
    • Use narrative techniques, such as dialogue, pacing, and description, to develop experiences, events, and/or characters.
    • Use a variety of transition words, phrases, and clauses to convey sequence and signal shifts from one time frame or setting to another.
    • Use precise words and phrases, relevant descriptive details, and sensory language to convey experiences and events.
    • Provide a conclusion that follows from the narrated experiences or events.

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: W.4 Writing
Grade(s): Grade 6
Cluster: Text Types and Purposes
Standards:

  • W.4.1. Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.
    • Introduce a topic or text clearly, state an opinion, and create an organizational structure in which related ideas are grouped to support the writer’s purpose.
    • Provide reasons that are supported by facts and details.
    • Link opinion and reasons using words and phrases (e.g., for instance, in order to, in addition).
    • Provide a concluding statement or section related to the opinion presented.
  • W.4.2. Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.
    • Introduce a topic clearly and group related information in paragraphs and sections; include formatting (e.g., headings), illustrations, and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.
    • Develop the topic with facts, definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples related to the topic.
    • Link ideas within categories of information using words and phrases (e.g., another, for example, also, because).
    • Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to inform about or explain the topic.
    • Provide a concluding statement or section related to the information or explanation presented.
  • W.4.3. Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.
    • Orient the reader by establishing a situation and introducing a narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally.
    • Use dialogue and description to develop experiences and events or show the responses of characters to situations.
    • Use a variety of transitional words and phrases to manage the sequence of events.
    • Use concrete words and phrases and sensory details to convey experiences and events precisely.
    • Provide a conclusion that follows from the narrated experiences or events.

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: W.4 Writing
Grade(s): Grade 6
Cluster: Production and Distribution of Writing
Standards:

  • W.4.4. Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1–3 above.)
  • W.4.5. With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, and editing. (Editing for conventions should demonstrate command of Language standards 1-3 up to and including grade 4.)
  • W.4.6. With some guidance and support from adults, use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others; demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to type a minimum of one page in a single sitting. 

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: W.5 Writing
Grade(s): Grade 6
Cluster: Production and Distribution of Writing
Standards:

  • W.5.4. Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1–3.)
  • W.5.5. With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach. (Editing for conventions should demonstrate command of Language standards 1-3 up to and including grade 5 here.)
  • W.5.6. With some guidance and support from adults, use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others; demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to type a minimum of two pages in a single sitting.

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: W.5 Writing
Grade(s): Grade 6
Cluster: Text Types and Purposes
Standards:

  • W.5.1. Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.
    • Introduce a topic or text clearly, state an opinion, and create an organizational structure in which ideas are logically grouped to support the writer’s purpose.
    • Provide logically ordered reasons that are supported by facts and details.
    • Link opinion and reasons using words, phrases, and clauses (e.g., consequently, specifically).
    • Provide a concluding statement or section related to the opinion presented.
  • W.5.2. Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.
    • Introduce a topic clearly, provide a general observation and focus, and group related information logically; include formatting (e.g., headings), illustrations, and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.
    • Develop the topic with facts, definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples related to the topic.
    • Link ideas within and across categories of information using words, phrases, and clauses (e.g., in contrast, especially).
    • Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to inform about or explain the topic.
    • Provide a concluding statement or section related to the information or explanation presented.
  • W.5.3. Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.
    • Orient the reader by establishing a situation and introducing a narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally.
    • Use narrative techniques, such as dialogue, description, and pacing, to develop experiences and events or show the responses of characters to situations.
    • Use a variety of transitional words, phrases, and clauses to manage the sequence of events.
    • Use concrete words and phrases and sensory details to convey experiences and events precisely.
    • Provide a conclusion that follows from the narrated experiences or events.

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: W.6 Writing
Grade(s): Grade 6
Cluster: Production and Distribution of Writing
Standards:

  • W.6.4. Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1–3 above.)
  • W.6.5. With some guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach. (Editing for conventions should demonstrate command of Language standards 1–3 up to and including grade 6.)
  • W.6.6. Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others; demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to type a minimum of three pages in a single sitting.

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: All Language Arts Standards
Cluster: Applying Knowledge to Language
Grade(s): Grades K–12
Standards:

  • Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and nonprint texts.

Discipline: Visual Arts and Music
Domain: K-4 Visual Arts
Cluster: Standard 1: Understanding and applying media, techniques, and processes
Grade(s): Grades K–12
Standards:

  • Students know the differences between materials, techniques, and processes
  • Students describe how different materials, techniques, and processes cause different responses
  • Students use different media, techniques, and processes to communicate ideas, experiences, and stories
  • Students use art materials and tools in a safe and responsible manner

Discipline: Visual Arts and Music
Domain: K-4 Visual Arts
Cluster: Standard 3: Choosing and evaluating a range of subject matter, symbols, and ideas
Grade(s): Grades K–12
Standards:

  • Students explore and understand prospective content for works of art
  • Students select and use subject matter, symbols, and ideas to communicate meaning

Discipline: Visual Arts and Music
Domain: K-4 Visual Arts
Cluster: Standard 5: Reflecting upon and assessing the characteristics and merits of their work and the work of others
Grade(s): Grades K–12
Standards:

  • Students understand there are various purposes for creating works of visual art
  • Students describe how people's experiences influence the development of specific artworks
  • Students understand there are different responses to specific artworks

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: All Language Arts Standards
Cluster: Applying Strategies to Writing
Grade(s): Grades K–12
Standards:

  • Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of 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