First Grade students celebrate the culmination of their Family History Unit
Thematic Studies in the lower school connects social studies concepts, technology, and research skills with reading and writing skills. Following best practices for highly gifted learners, this framework for instruction is part of the Integrated Curriculum Model (ICM) developed by the College of William and Mary’s Center for Gifted Education. Integrated units connect a big idea or a universal concept such as identity, change, origins, systems, or perspectives to advanced content and multiple skills and disciplines.
Recently our first-grade students and teachers celebrated the culmination of their Family History Unit in which they pondered the questions: “What makes a family?”, “Why do families move?”, “How do families remember their past?”, and “How do families change over time?”
Students engaged in whole class read alouds, discussions, and independent research. They also learned about chronology and created personal timelines, collected artifacts from their family’s history and described their significance, conducted interviews and compared their school experience to that of an older family member, and even went on a field trip to the Museum of Tolerance family history exhibit.
Working with our Lower School Technology Integrationist, Amy Heppe, students converted hand-drawn illustrations into a digital platform to accompany an oral story told by an older family member recorded as an audio file. These videos were then connected to a QR code that could be easily scanned for family members to watch and listen to the story from their family’s history. What an incredible artifact they now have to hold on to!
Bringing in visual art skills, Mary Beth Carosello, our lower school art teacher, supported the unit through teaching students about portraiture and how color can represent feelings and personality. Students created a mixed media portrait of an older family member on canvas to accompany their final project.
Closing out this engaging and rich learning experience, families were invited into our first-grade classrooms to view the work students completed over the course of the unit. The showcase was an exciting culmination and a wonderful way to celebrate students’ learning.