December 2020: Featured Lessons – Grades 3-5

Check out December’s featured resources – seasonal lessons, subject area content, and some of our staff favorites too! 

Save the Polar Bear

Grade(s): 4

Subject(s): ELA

In Save the Polar Bear, students use their interest in polar bears to practice informative reading and writing in a real world context. As conservation research biologists, they have to write a report about the dangers polar bears face to be used by documentary makers. They analyze an article about global warming, and examine graphics about polar bears. Then they present their finding to the directors of Animal Planet, before writing their final report. The task ends with the opportunity to develop informative writing in several ways.

Winter Haikus

Grade(s): 3, 4, 5

Subject(s): ELA

Get in the season by having your students create Winter Haikus!

This activity introduces students to the traditional Japanese form of poetry — the haiku. Students read examples of classic haikus and create their own using an online interactive tool. They think about using vivid imagery to describe their scenes.

Hackathon Part 1

Grade(s): 5

Subject(s): Math, ELA, Science

Learning to code is something everyone can do. This project makes use of resources published for the Hour of Code and organizes them into a “hackathon” for upper elementary or middle school students. Resources are easily followed and the teacher can learn with the students in a collaborative environment.

The project uses the Rank and Reason Tool and video to kickoff and engages students at the Wannabe level. Students can then move through tasks at the Junior Coder level, Code Monkey level, and finally Hacker Level – reflecting on their learning as they go.

Winter Sports Math

Grade(s): 4, 5

Subject(s): Math

In this lesson students work in groups and watch a series of videos on eight selected winter sports. They then assign a perceived difficulty level for each sport for given categories. They find mean, median and mode and rank the sports in order of perceived difficulty.

Students can use the interactive ranking tool to show their final ranking of the sports and compare these with the rest of the class and view the class average.

The lesson finishes with the opportunity to calculate percentages and decimals and think about other ways to display their data.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever – Characters

Grade(s): 4, 5

Subject(s): ELA

This activity introduces the literary concept character for the novel,The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, by Barbara Robinson. The lesson could be completed partway through reading the book or at the end to deepen their understanding of the characters.

Students analyze positive and negative character traits, find evidence for several character traits through a book scavenger hunt, and complete a rank and reason activity to rank the most prominent traits for a character in the story,

An adaptable writing assignment finishes the activity by asking students to present the evidence for three character traits that seemed most important to a character’s journey.

New Year’s Resolutions

Grade(s): 3

Subject(s): ELA

In this Rank & Reason, students consider the most important New Year’s resolution. They rank these according to importance.

This question is designed to have no right answer. Students must think critically and provide justification for their rankings. Interactive features allow students to compare their rankings with others and to the class average.

Start from Scratch

Grade(s): 4, 5

Subject(s): ELA, Science

This extended activity takes 4th and 5th graders through the program Scratch to start learning basic computer programming.

Scratch can be downloaded to a school system or just used in your normal online browser. No prior knowledge of Scratch or computer programming is needed to teach this lesson. Your students may even end up teaching you something!

Character Education

Character Education – Responsibility

Grade(s): 3, 4, 5

Subject(s): ELA, Social Studies

This lesson is another great addition to the Character Counts program and the 6 Pillars of Character Success. This lesson focuses on the third character trait: Responsibility. This lesson could be taught as part of that series or in isolation.

This lesson is structured similarly to the previous character lessons in the series in order to promote consistency and familiarity. Students will be asked to reflect on their personal character traits as well as evaluate those of others. They will complete a self-assessment and watch a short video on Responsibility. The video is followed by a rich set of discussion questions to really help students understand and connect with the concept of Responsibility.

The lesson closes with students choosing one of the suggested group projects. This will really allow students to demonstrate what they’ve learned in this lesson.

Be sure to check out all our 3-5 Seasonal content here.