States and Capitals Unit
purpose of this unit is to educate students about the regions, states and
capitals that make up the
Standard 5.9 – Students know the location of the current fifty states and names of their capitals.
Unit Learning Goals:
This unit is designed to help
students to acquire knowledge of locations and names of regional, state and
capital facts about the
The lessons progressively build on
one another beginning with introducing the students to the basic proper names
of the current states and capitals in the
The purpose of the second lesson is
to help students find ways of remembering the states and their corresponding
capitals. Although, this lesson focuses
on states and capitals, it is designed to teach the skill of using mnemonics
and it is my hope that the students will be able to apply these skills
throughout their education. This lesson
begins with a brief explanation by the instructor but ends up in the computer
lab visiting a website that better explains mnemonics in the context of
learning the states and capitals. The
website is interactive and offers funny animated characters that the students
will surely like. Each student is
responsible for researching at least two states and reporting their findings to
the whole class. Although this is an
individual learning experience, the students will likely learn from one another
when they each get up to explain the memory device they have learned. Moving away from the acquisition of facts,
the next three lesson plans involve more cooperative learning as a means for
students to have a better understanding of the big picture in our
The third lesson involves a group effort to investigate a specific region. This lesson gathers students into a group but also requires them to work individually as they develop their research skills. This particular lesson does not involve the internet because finding the information using web resources is too easy. This lesson seeks to sharpen research skills using the encyclopedia and atlas. This lesson is not the most creative but it is a challenge to make researching the encyclopedia exciting. The purpose of the research being conducted this way is to educate students on the specific characteristics or facts that all states have in common. Over the next two lesson plans, students will need to gather more information about specific states and by completing this exercise students will feel comfortable using these text resources to locate needed information. At the end of this lesson, students will work together to post their collective findings on a poster board that will represent their regional research.
The fourth lesson involves more state research but this lesson is designed to involve web resources and different kinds of information. The students are asked to create a travel pamphlet and are guided by an information sheet that provides options for students to choose what information they would like to highlight in their pamphlet. As with the other lessons, my role is that of facilitator because I provide the students with the necessary information and guidelines and they are allowed to interpret, create and explore individually and with groups. The students are given a rubric prior to creating the pamphlet so that they include basic information but they can be as artistic and creative as they want.
The last lesson requires the students to gather in the same regional groups that they were assigned to during the third lesson. This exercise ties all of the previous lessons together in that each student will be involved in creating a radio recording of the highlights of the region that they studied with their group. This is a fun cooperative learning exercise and engages students in discussions and making decisions collectively about how they would like to present their findings. The students will be provided with a guidelines regarding time, participation and content but there is plenty of room for exploration and self-expression.
My instructional strategies for this entire unit are really guided and I use a lot of direct instruction because of the nature of the material we are covering. I have tried to make the unit interesting by allowing for students to discover information that pertains to them. For example, they were directed to find fun things for kids to do in their travel pamphlets. Also, by recording a radio advertisement about their region, they are required to think about what is appealing to them and how to make that information sound exciting to others. It was my intention to allow for some self expression and creativity in this somewhat dry subject.
The overall goal of my unit is for
students to acquire knowledge of the regions, states and capital of the
The first exercise in this unit concentrates on creating flashcards in pairs using mini maps and 3x5 index cards. The method of assessment that I selected for this lesson was a checklist and personal communication. The checklist is an appropriate choice of assessment because I just want to see that the students have completed the task with their partners. Students are required to get checked off of a list with their partners indicating that they have prepared their flashcards appropriately and are ready to begin using them as study aids. The students know that they will be swapping decks of flashcards and so they are invested in making sure that their partner completes the directions correctly. When the students ask to be checked off of the list, the teacher can visually flip through the cards and communicate with the students to ask about the completion of the task.
The second lesson involves researching mnemonic devices to use when learning the states and their capitals. Students were asked to print two pages off of the mnemonic website and present them to the entire class. I chose a checklist and personal communication as the method of assessment for this lesson and believe that this is most appropriate for the purpose of this lesson. I wanted students to become familiar with the website that provides memory aids for all of the fifty states. I will see evidence of students familiarity with the website when they bring their two pages printed directly from the site. The other purpose of the lesson was for students to explain and present the memory aid that they researched to class because if they can present it, they will most likely remember it. Also, most of the mnemonics are funny and students are more likely to be interested in the lesson if they are having fun and their fellow students are saying silly things. I will see evidence of students the students developing their memory when they present the mnemonic that they researched. I will communicate with the students prior to their presentations to clarify any questions they may have regarding the concept. If they are struggling I can see this by talking with them prior to and during the presentations.
The third lesson involves students conducting research on a specific state using encyclopedias. The purpose of this lesson is for students to become familiar with locating specific profile information about a state. Another component of this lesson is that students needed to post their profile information on a poster board with their group. I used a checklist as the method of assessment for this exercise because although there was some group work, the majority of the task is individual. I would not go through and double check all of the profile facts to determine the comprehension level of the students. Instead, I would check the students off of a list indicating that the student completed the assignment individually. I would also personally communicate with the students to see if the students understand where they need to go to locate information. In regard to the group work, the students will be with the same group over the two week unit and I would use a check list to determine if the students all participating in the cooperative activity.
The fourth lesson involves students creating a travel pamphlet. The assessment method that I decided on for this exercise is a primary traits rubric. The rubric includes four levels and the traits are compiled of organization, content and presentation. This is an appropriate form of assessment for this exercise because the students were required to produce a product that has a complex series of traits. It would be inappropriate to assess something as good or bad without deciding what makes a good product prior to students beginning the lesson. The creation of a pamphlet requires the assessment of quality. The desired components of the product were characterized and up front so that the students could all know what they had to do to succeed in getting the most wanted results.
The fifth lesson required the students to produce a radio advertisement with their group. The purpose of this exercise is for students to combine the research that they have conducted with that of their classmates that has been gathered over the duration of the unit. The students are required to summarize and chose the most important information to be included in this radio ad. A primary traits rubric was used as the method of assessment for this exercise using levels 0-4 and the traits of organization, content and presentation. This is an appropriate form of assessment for this task because this assignment required creating a product that contains many components that all vary in quality. I will see evidence of the students’ ability to combine, edit and summarize information based on the content as specified in the primary traits rubric. The students are also assessed on presentation and this is important because there are specific characteristics that need to be included in the delivery of the advertisement.
Authentic Performance Assessment Instrument: Please see lesson #4
Lesson Plan #1
Title: Flash-Cards: Name that State and Capital
Overview: Students will make flash-cards in pairs during class to use as study aids over two weeks to learn the names of the fifty states and capitals and the shape of each state.
Time: 1.5 hours/1 day
identify the shape of each state in the
· TLW label each state shape with the correctly spelled state name and state capital.
· TLW create 1 flashcard for each state that includes the state shape, the state name and the state capital.
· TLW identify the location of each state capital and label it with a handwritten star.
· TLW work with a partner to complete this assignment.
Advanced Organizers: The
teacher will prompt students to recall the recent studies about how the
This lesson requires about 150 copies and 50 index cards per student. It is suggested that the teacher write a letter home asking the parents to donate the 50 index cards for their students. The instructor should prepare flash-card making contents packets ahead of time.
Use 2 colors (one color is for capitals and one color is for states)
FLASHCARD PACKET CONTENTS: (make these packets ahead of time so that lots of time is not spent on making sure that students have all of the handouts that they need)
teacher will introduce students to the
teacher will point out the different shapes of the
3) The teacher will pair up students and ask them to decide on one person to make state flashcards and one person to make capital flashcards.
4) The teacher will explain that the mini shaded state will pasted on one side of the index card and will be labeled either states or capitals depending on what the students have decided is their responsibility. The partners will swap flashcard decks to take home and practice. Students will be able to recognize a state shape and identify it with the appropriate state and capital.
5) Teacher will explain to students that on the back side of the index card (where the mini shape is not pasted) the student will label the corresponding state or capital to the label on the front.
6) Teacher will hand out the flash-card making packets and ask students to work with partner to end up with 50 State Flash-cards and 50 Capital Flash-cards
7) Teacher will monitor student’s progress by roaming the classroom and checking for understanding verbally with partners.
8) After 1 hour the teacher will ask students to wrap up making their flashcards and to be checked off of the teacher list with their partners.
1) For the next two weeks, the students will switch decks of flashcards nightly in order to learn the name of the states and capitals as associated with the shape of the state. Students will also assist each other to gain the state/capital knowledge by practicing in class.
2) Students will take home a letter to parents asking the parents to participate in assisting their student in mastering the knowledge of all of the fifty states and their capitals.
The assessment of this task is very simple. The teacher is just checking to make sure that the partners have created the flashcards in the directed manner. The teacher will use a check list and check off the partners that have created flash-cards with one stack of state cards and one stack of capital cards.
At the end of the 2
weeks, the students will be asked to label a blank map of the
Lesson Plan #2
Title: How to Remember: An Exploration of Mnemonics
Grade: 5th grade and up
Time: 2 hours / 1 hour per day
The teacher will explain how the organization of information by using mnemonic devices can assist in the ability to recall information and facts like states names and capitals. The teacher will give examples of first letter and image mnemonics taken from the website that the students will be researching. The students will be making a mnemonic reference book that will be available for all students to review in class.
(1.5 hours) The teacher will assign each student two states to research on the given website and use a check list to make sure that all of the states are covered. The teacher will explain the concept of mnemonics and provide further clarification by using the hand-out with examples of the four mnemonic devices that are being introduced in this lesson. The class will take a trip to the computer lab and the students will research and print their memory device for the states that they were assigned.
(1.5 hours) The students will cut and paste their memory aid retrieved from the website (it is a small animation) on ˝ of an 8 ˝ x 11 sheet of construction paper so that their device is ready to place in the state and capital memory aid book that the teacher is compiling. The students will present their memory aid orally to the entire class and turn in their pasted pages for insertion into the book.
Students will be encouraged to return to the website at home with parents. Also students can share with one another the way they have used mnemonic devices found on the website. The teacher can call upon the state and capital experts over the two week unit for assistance in helping others develop their memories. Students will be encouraged to look through the memory aids reference book that we are creating as a class containing all of the fifty states and capitals.
The teacher will check for understanding during the brief lecture/explanation of memory aids by asking them if they can provide an example of what they are learning. The students will be better able to understand the concept once they have visited the computer lab and have had an opportunity to view the animated state and capital memory aids.
The students will orally present the memory aids (2) that they retrieved from the website. The teacher will use a checklist to determine if the student has completed the task. The checklist will contain the following items:
1) The student orally reported on two assigned states.
2) The student is able to explain the memory aid to the students and to classify the mnemonic as first letter, key word, image or rhyme.
3) The student retrieved two memory aids form the given website and has turned them in to be included in the class reference book.
Lesson Plan #3
Title: A Study of the States as Part of Regions
Time: 3 hours (1.5 hours per day)
Overview: This lesson will focus on students retrieving factual information about a state within a region they are assigned to. The students will not use technological resources to gather their information, they will use the encyclopedias and atlases that are available in text form. The students will be filling out the data on pre-made sheets and posting them on a poster board with their fellow group mates that are assigned to the same region.
Materials: Encyclopedias, World Atlas, Poster Board (to post all of the students findings) Worksheet (see attached), glue, construction paper, blank maps for each group, art supplies (colored pencils, crayons, markers) for art work, blank and annotated U.S. map available at www.fiftystates.com
Day 1: The
teacher will assign 3-4 students to be in groups that will study the six
regions of the
The regions that
the teacher will use are:
The students will begin their independent research using the texts that are available in class. This lesson does not use the internet to find the information. Students will be given 1.5 hours to complete their research and art work spread out over 2 days.
Day 2: The students will be finishing up their research and coming to a close on the exercise. The teacher will allow the students 35 minutes to post their research findings on the poster board along with their shaded map of the region.
The teacher will pass out the poster boards with the large title of the region already attached. The students will place their state on these boards under the appropriate regions. The teacher will explain that this is the beginning of our study of the region and that we will soon be creating travel guides and radio advertisements about the regions we have just discovered. Students should remember the students in their groups because they will be involved in learning with them over the rest of the unit.
The assessment procedure is a check list because this is a worksheet with factual information. This assessment procedure is appropriate because the lesson focuses on the students becoming familiar with retrieving research from a source like and encyclopedia or atlas. This lesson seeks to assess the skill of researching. The teacher will roam the class during the research section of the lesson and assist students in locating the specific information.
The checklist will be compiled of the following items and the students will be assessed as a group and individually:
1) The state researched is in the assigned region.
2) The state profile sheet is completely filled out with correct information.
3) The student created 2 pieced of art work from options (flag, bird or flower).
4) A blank map is properly shaded in representing the region that the students are researching.
5) All of the students have attached all state profiles to the poster board with the appropriate information completed.
6) Students used text reference books to complete this assignment.
STATE PROFILE INFORMATION
Lesson #3 (sample of information)
REGION OF THE
GENERAL CLIMATE IN SUMMER:
GENERAL CLIMATE IN WINTER:
Please draw two of the three choices: state flower, state bird, or state flag.
Lesson Plan #4
Title: State Travel Pamphlet
Grade: 5th and up
Time: 3 hours over 2 days/ 1.5 hours each day
The teacher will introduce the students to actual travel pamphlets from a travel store or AAA to provide the students with an idea of what they will be creating for their chosen state. The teacher will also explain the concept of travel pamphlets and their purpose.
Website resources: www.ipl.org/div/kidspace/stateknow/htm. This website is very useful for the purpose of this lesson. A state can be chosen and there are many links to travel sites about the state and travel information for kids. www.fiftystates.org. This website also has many links to travel sites for each state. The teacher should provide these websites to students at the top of the hand out they will use to gather the information to create their travel pamphlet.
Teacher will ask student to pretend that student from other countries will be visiting the U.S. and will be stopping by our class to pick up travel pamphlet about which states they should visit. Our class is their first stop and we really want to give them good information in the travel pamphlets that we create so that they can make the best choice since they can not visit all fifty states. The students will be encouraged to make their pamphlets appealing filled with lots of fun activities and places to see in each state.
Day 1: (1.5 hours) The teacher will ask students to gather in the regional groups that they were assigned to during lesson #3. The students will be asked to review the states that are in their region with one another and to choose a state to make a travel pamphlet on that they have not previously researched in their region. Each student will receive a hand out with a list of items that can be included in their pamphlet and a primary traits rubric that they can use in creating their project. The pamphlet and rubric can be copied on one page and should be given to students prior to the visit to the computer lab. The students should be given about 1 hour and 10 minutes in the computer lab to gather their information and fill out their hand-out.
Day 2: (1.5 hours) The teacher will ask the students to get out the information they gathered the previous day and to get back into their regional groups. The students will be asked to begin creating their pamphlet and the teacher will give an example of how a travel pamphlet is usually folded. The students will be encouraged to express themselves and to highlight features of the states that are interesting to them. The students will be given 1 hour and 15 minutes to create their pamphlets. The students will then be asked to display their pamphlet in front of their regional poster board in preparation for our visit from the foreign students.
Students will be given an opportunity to walk around and check out their fellow student’s pamphlets. Students will also be encouraged to discuss in their regional groups specific highlights that were important to them in preparation for their next project. The teacher will explain that the next regional exercise will call for the groups to create a 5 minute radio advertisement about their region.
A primary traits rubric will be used to assess the student’s performance. Levels 0-3 will be used and the criteria will be organization, content and presentation. Although the students are working in regional groups, this task is being assessed on the individual’s performance because they will be making the pamphlets individually. Please see the attached rubric for more details.
Lesson #4 Traits Rubric
State Travel Pamphlets
Front page of pamphlet has name of state.
Pamphlet is folded neatly like model.
All information is indicated by headings
Information is written neatly.
Correct Spelling throughout pamphlet.
Contains all of the must include information.
Contains more than 5 of the items from the guided list.
Contains cited references on back page of pamphlet.
Suggests a web reference to find more information about state.
Front page of pamphlet is eye catching and the state name is large.
Contains multiple colors throughout pamphlet.
Contains more than 2 illustrations/drawings.
Front page of pamphlet has name of state.
Pamphlet is folded like model.
Some information has headings.
Information is legible.
Less than 2 spelling errors.
Contains all of the must include information.
Contains at least 5 of the items from the guided list.
Contains at least one cited reference on back page of pamphlet.
Front page of pamphlet has state name written large.
Contains at least 2 colors throughout pamphlet.
Contains less than 2 illustrations/drawings.
Front page of pamphlet has name of state.
Pamphlet is not folded like model
Information does not have headings.
Information is not legible.
More than 2 spelling errors.
Contains some of the must include information.
Contains less than 5 of the items from the guided list.
Front page of pamphlet is one color and state name is small.
Contains only one color throughout pamphlet.
Pamphlet organization does not meet the above criteria and is unacceptable.
Pamphlet content does not meet the above criteria and is unacceptable.
Pamphlet presentation does not meet the above criteria and is unacceptable.
SEE OTHER SIDE FOR GUIDES TO GATHERING INFORMATION
STATE TRAVEL PAMPLET
Use this guide to help you gather important information that you would like to include in your pamphlet.
Web Resources to be used:
Go to these websites, choose the state you are creating a pamphlet for and follow the links to travel information. Please site your resources on the back page of your pamphlet.
INFORMATION THAT MUST BE INCLUDED IN YOUR PAMPHLET:
Other states near by/bordering states
THE FOLLOWING LIST IS A GUIDE TO HELP YOU CHOOSE WHAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO INCLUDE IN YOUR PAMPHLET (remember you must choose at least 5 items – please see rubric)
Points of interest
“Don’t miss” types of attractions
What is fun and worth seeing?
Favorite foods served in the state
What kinds of activities are there for kids?
What kind of transportation is available?
What is the weather like in the winter?
What is the weather like in the summer?
Name one historical monument
What body of water is in or near this state?
What is this state famous for?
What sports teams are from this state?
Name a famous person from this state?
Why should someone visit this state?
What is the state motto?
What is the state nickname?
Are there theme parks in this state?
When is the best time to visit this state?
Lesson Plan #5
Title: Are you ready for radio?
Grade: 5th Grade and up
their assigned regional groups, the students will create and record a radio
advertisement 5-7 minutes long that will be played across the
Time: 3 hours / 1.5 hours per day
Advanced Organizers: The
teacher will ask students to think of an add that they
have heard on the radio and ask the students to share memorable characteristics
of the promotion. The teacher will
discuss how the students have become regional experts on states and capitals of
2 tape recorders
9 blank tapes
Primary traits rubric
List of items that students can include in their 5-7 minute taped promotion
9 newspapers to assemble a weather description for the region
Prompt: Teacher will explain that all students must participate in recording their voice in the radio promotion. Also, the advertisements should be exciting and fun. The teacher will explain that the ads will be heard all over the U.S. and that people really want to know what the weather is like before they visit an area and that this element is a “must” in their promotion. Newspapers will be available for the students to determine what the weather is like.
Day 1: The teacher will ask students to gather in their original regional groups. The teacher will gain the students attention and pass out the handout of the list of information that can be included in the radio ad. As in the previous lesson, this list consists of “must include” information and optional information. The students need to have at least 5 of the optional information choices in their promotion and the regional weather is a part of the “must include” info. The teacher will pass out the newspapers and ask the students to come up with a general idea about how they will describe the weather to the listeners. The teacher will allow the students approximately 30 minutes to decide what to include in their ad and will ask the students to create a script and assign information to the speakers. After 30 minutes, the teacher will allow the students to begin recording and will allow each group 15-20minutes to record their 5-7 minute advertisement (allowing time for rerecording). If the time is watched, four groups will be able to complete their recording and the other five groups will record the following day. In down time, students can practice their script and flashcards.
Day 2: The remaining 5 groups will continue recording their advertisements for the first 45 minutes of the lesson. During the last 45 minutes of the lesson, the students will present their radio advertisement to the entire class as a group.
Closure: The teacher will conclude the unit on regions, states and
capitals of the
The teacher will use a primary traits rubric to assess the student’s performance as a group in this exercise. The rubric will contain levels 0-4 and the traits will consist of organization, content and presentation and cooperative group work.
The students will be given this rubric prior to beginning the exercise.