Feudal Japan

Feudal Japan
Japan Webquest
You are the editor of a travel magazine preparing an article on the history of Japan for tourists.  It is your job to entice your readers to visit Japan on their next holiday.  Your subscribers have the option to travel anywhere in the world, they don’t have to choose Japan.  So, why should they travel to Japan?
You will write a travel article persuading tourists to visit Japan.  Your article must include the following items.
  • Introduction with a hook beginning
  • History of Japan’s social structure, include intriguing facts.
  • Interesting geographic features tourist may enjoy viewing.
  • Main religions, include temples or shrines tourist may visit.
  • Don’t forget an interesting conclusion.


*For steps 1-3 you will complete your notes in a google template titled Japan Outline.  Include pertinent information relevant to tourists.

*For steps 4-? you will complete your article in a google template.

Step 1:  Geography of Japan
You need to become familiar with major cities, natural features, and major tourist attractions.
Step 2:   History of Japan
You must understand the importance of early government, social structure, and cultural influences on present day Japan.  Using the following websites fill out your Japan Outline notes in Google Docs.
The Samurai and the Tea Master 
Samurai:  A Japanese warrior whose duty was to serve and protect his lord or give up his life doing so.
Bushido code:  A code of ethics followed by samurai, which required bravery, self-control, and loyalty to their lord.
Daimyo:  a clan leader who held the real political power and Japan.  Controlled the people and the land through the use of military force (samurais).
Clan:  A large family group.
Scroll:  A painting or text on silk or paper that is either displayed on the wall or held by the reader and is rolled up when not in use.
Code:  A set of standards that are enforced.
Step 3:  Religion of Japan
You will learn about the two major religions in Japan.  Many tourists enjoy visiting religious sites, whether or not it’s their religious belief.  This will be a great addition to your article.
Buddhism is a religion of many Southeast Asian countries.  It varies slightly from country to country based on cultural influences.
Shintoism is based on Nature.  What could have been things worshipped by the the Japanese.  Each part of nature contains a spirit known asKami.
Step 4:  Arrival of Europeans
The arrival of Europeans dramatically changed the Japanese Lifestyle.  What do you see in the following timeline?  What conclusions can you draw about the Westerner effect on Japan?  Record your answers on your outline.
Timeline Japan
Step 5:  Japanese Way of Life (Mr. Juchems)
Record any interesting facts and information on your outline.  Think about current culture, foods, religion, jobs.
Step 6:  Begin Persuasive Article
Using the attached outline input the most important reasons and details for a tourist to visit Japan.  It is important to visually know you have enough information for your readers.  Don’t forget your details.  If you think I should visit Mt. Fuji, but fail to tell me about it.  I’m not going to be too excited to visit.  You have to make it sound like an experience of a lifetime.
Once you have the outline for your reasons completed, begin working through an introduction and conclusion.

Ancient China

Ancient China
Intro Video 

Sixth Grade Ancient China Project

1.   You will choose one of the following topics about ancient China.
2.   Your project should have one or two double spaced typed pages in
      google docs of what you have found about the topic along with a
      a.   The visual may be a poster, a collage, a picture you drew or
              something you have assembled.
3.   You must also cite at least three references you used in your
4.   This project is due on December 17th. We will then compile all
      information into a single presentation to review in January.
      When we return from holiday we will celebrate an early Chinese
      New Year and present about our topics.
1.  Camon
2.  Josh
 Silk Road
1.  Ryan, Declan, and Eric
1.  Carli B
2.  Nolan and Elijah
 The Great Wall of China
1.  Kat
2.  Dalton
1.  Lucas and Korbin
2.  Sam and Anna
 Chinese Writing – Calligraphy
1.  Hayden and Dakota
1.  Quinten
1.  Bella
1.  Gage
 Qin Shi Huangdi
1.  Jacob, Michael, Kassi
2.  Kaleb, Jaden, and Tristian
 1.  Taylor, Carley, and Jake
 Geography of China
1.  Ashleigh
2.  Malachi and Kaedin
 How Silk is Made
1.  Paige and Ariana
1.  Kaileigh
2.  Alyssa, Savohna, and Emily
 Chinese New Year
1.  Ezra
2.  Madelyn, Selam, and Laney
1.  Hunter


Ancient Mesopotamia

Ancient Mesopotamia

Created by:  E Ell

Adapted by:  Jen Sitzes and Alexis Ennis


The first great civilization, located between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, was developed in 5000 B. C.   Archaeologists and historians discovered this “cradle of civilization” buried under sandy mounds of the vast plain which were the remains of Ancient Mesopotamia.  Mesopotamia is derived from the Greek words, mesos meaning “middle,” and potamos meaning “river,” which became known as the “land between two rivers.”  Mesopotamia no longer exists today.  It is now known as all the land in northern Syria, southern Turkey, and most of Iraq.  Researchers believe the people of Mesopotamia influenced the development of the human race in many ways.

Your Project

You are an archaeological historian and are about to embark on a fantastic journey into the past to discover the mysteries of ancient Mesopotamia. Your goal is to achieve an understanding of what life was like, what the culture consisted of, how the government developed, details about the religious beliefs, the development of trade, the development of specialization and social classes, and how the first written language looked.

You will discover that much of what we in the twenty-first century take for granted in our civilization has roots in the Mesopotamia of 5000 years ago. You will be asked to explore a number of websites and find specific information that you will use to perform a number of tasks that you will adapt into a finished project to be turned in. It is possible for this webquest to be accomplished as an individual or with a partner. You will be directed to a variety of web sites and will be asked to complete a variety of tasks. DO NOT GO TO OTHER WEBSITES WITHOUT TEACHER PERMISSION.

Each individual must complete each task and then as a team develop a project that creatively presents their knowledge of the area. Below are your project choices.

Choices for a finished project:

  • Google Slide Presentation

    • Share with your teacher BEFORE YOU START so I can see your progress.  I will tell you what slides are required, but if you find interesting information that you would like to add, you can either add it with your required information (if it fits) or add slides at the end for interesting facts.

    • Share with your partner also

  • Prezi Presentation

    • prezi.com→”Get Started”–> Free Public account–>Username is firstnamelastname2022 and Password is Tigerslunchpin

    • Again, I will tell you the required slides, if you find additional information, you can add it where you see fit.

    • This can be shared with your partner, but they need an account also

  • Investigation Poster

    • Construction Paper

    • I will tell you requirements, you place on the poster as you see fit. If you want to make multiple posters to cover the topics individually you can, or you can make one poster-but it must have all of the requirements.

    • Additional information you find important or interesting can be added where you wish

    • I can print pictures for you, just copy and paste in a google doc or email them to me.

Process and Requirements

Task 1 (Slides 1 and 2)

Your first task is to write your monogram in cuneiform. (your initials) If you are working with a partner, this task must be completed individually.

  1. Go to the site Write Like A Babylonian http://www.penn.museum/cgi/cuneiform.cgi

  2. Type your initials in the appropriate location.

  3. Click “inscribe”  to see your monogram.

  4. Copy the wedge-shaped writing onto a piece of construction paper.  Be careful to accurately copy your cuneiform monogram as neatly and clearly as possible. You will design your monogram to fill the page. This will hang on the outside of your locker or outside of Mrs. Ennis’ room.

  5. In your presentation (prezi, google slide, or poster) create a title slide with your project name and your group mates English names.  On your 2nd slide place each members cuneiform monogram. Make sure your cuneiform monogram is large enough to fill the space provided. Quality, color, creativity, and accuracy are important.  Label your monograms with your English initials. (You can copy and paste your monogram from the website)

Task 2 (Slide 3)

Timeline of Ancient Mesopotamia:

As you will see from the timeline, power changed hands many times throughout the ancient history of this area. It went from the Sumer to the Akkadians to the Babylonians to the Assyrians back to the Babylonians back to the Assyrians and finally to the Persians.

  1. Read the following Timeline and choose 5-10 most important events of Ancient Mesopotamia. Include these in your next slide (if making a poster, place it anywhere that you see it fits)

  2. Timeline ranges from 5000BC-333BC, make sure you read all dates first before choosing 5-10 most important.

5000 BC – The Sumer form the first towns and cities. They use irrigation to farm large areas of land.

4000 BC – The Sumer establish powerful city-states building large ziggurats at the center of their cities as temples to their gods.

3300 BC – The Sumerians invent the first writing. They use pictures for words and inscribe them on clay tablets.

3200 BC – The Sumerians begin to use the wheel on vehicles.

3000 BC – The Sumerians start to implement mathematics using a number system

2700 BC – The famous Sumerian King Gilgamesh rules the city-state of Ur.

2400 BC – The Sumerian language is replaced by the Akkadian language as the primary spoken language in Mesopotamia.

2330 BC – Sargon I of the Akkadians conquers most of the Sumerian city states and creates the world’s first empire, the Akkadian Empire.

2250 BC – King Naram-Sin of the Akkadians expands the empire to its largest state. He will rule for 50 years.

2100 BC – After the Akkadian Empire crumbles, the Sumerians once again gain power. The city of Ur is rebuilt.

2000 BC – The Elamites capture Ur.

1900 BC – The Assyrians rise to power in northern Mesopotamia.

1792 BC – Hammurabi becomes king of Babylon. He establishes the Code of Hammurabi and Babylon soon takes over much of Mesopotamia.

1781 BC – King Shamshi-Adad of the Assyrians dies. The First Assyrian Empire is soon taken over by the Babylonians.

1750 BC – Hammurabi dies and the First Babylonian Empire begins to fall apart.

1595 BC – The Kassites take the city of Babylon.

1360 BC – The Assyrians once again rise in power.

1250 BC – The Assyrians begin to use iron weapons and chariots.

1225 BC – The Assyrians capture Babylon.

1115 BC – The Second Assyrian Empire reaches its peak under the rule of King Tiglath-Piliser I.

1077 BC – Tiglath-Piliser dies and the Assyrian Empire becomes weaker for a time.

744 BC – The Assyrian Empire becomes strong once again under the rule of Tiglath-Piliser III.

721 BC – King Sargon II takes control of Assyria. The empire grows stronger.

709 BC – Sargon II takes control of the city of Babylon.

705 BC – Sargon II dies and Sennacherib becomes king. He moves the capital to Nineveh.

668 BC – Ashurbanipal becomes the last great King of Assyria. He establishes a great library in the city of Nineveh.

626 BC – Ashurbanipal dies and Assyria begins to crumble.

616 BC – Nabopolassar takes control of Babylon back from the Assyrians and crowns himself king. The neo-Babylonian empire begins.

604 BC – Nabopolassar dies and Nebuchadnezzar II becomes King of Babylon. He will rule for 43 years and bring the Babylonian Empire to its peak.

550 BC – Cyrus the Great rises to power and the Persian Empire begins.

539 BC – Cyrus the Great takes the city of Babylon and lets the Jewish people return to Israel.

522 BC – Darius I becomes King of Persia. He expands the empire and divides it up into states each ruled by a governor called a satrap.

518 BC – Darius I establishes the capital of the Persian Empire at Persepolis.

490 BC – Darius I attacks the Greeks. He is defeated at the Battle of Marathon.

480 BC – Xerxes I tries to conquer the Greeks with a huge army. He is eventually turned back in defeat.

333 BC – Alexander the Great invades the land and conquers the Persian Empire

Task 3 (Slide 4)

  1. Get a copy of a map of Mesopotamia from your teacher.  You are going to label a map of Mesopotamia.  Each teammate must label their own map.

  2. Go to the following websites and follow the directions.http://www.smithlifescience.com/MesopotamiaMap.htm

  3. You may use the follow websites to help you complete the map:

    1. http://www.fsmitha.com/h1/map01mes.htm,

    2. http://www.mesopotamia.co.uk/geography/explore/exp_set.html

  4. You may also use the Social Studies textbooks and Nystrom Atlas

  5. Once you have labeled and colored your map, snap a picture of the best map of your group using your Chromebook.

  6. Insert the picture on the next slide of your Google Slide or prezi.

  7. If making a poster, just cut and glue map (unless you would like it smaller, then you can take a picture, resize, and email to me)

Task 4 (Next 1-4 Slides)
  1. Watch this video on the imp

  2. ortance of writing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vglAeKfm2XA

  3. Next go to the website About Cuneiform Writing…  http://www.penn.museum/games/cuneiform.shtml

  4. The next few slides will answer the following questions.  You can decide how to present this information best.  You may create and embed a video (see Mrs. Ennis on how to do this), write a newspaper article, list information in a slide etc.  It’s completely up to you!

  • Who created the first cuneiform over 5000 years ago?

  • What was cuneiform written on?

  • What were the two characteristics necessary to becoming a successful scribe?

  • Write a paragraph in which you speculate what the importance of written language is to civilization. How did it preserve knowledge, improve communication, and help improve government?

Task 5 (Next Slide)
  1. Go to It Happened First in Ancient Mesopotamia:http://news.bbc.co.uk/cbbcnews/hi/world/newsid_2955000/2955531.stm

  2. In this article are a number of “firsts” that Mesopotamians achieved. Select two of these and design a visual that depicts each of the achievements and how each could have been used. Your visual should have labels, be colorful, and be accurate. Visuals can be hand drawn and then a picture taken with chromebook. Add this page to your slides.

  3. Your completed slide should include

    1. Title

    2. Two visuals that depict each of the achievements

    3. How each object could have been used back then and how it is used today

    4. Label each visual

    5. Each visual should be colorful and accurate

Task 6 (Next 3  Slides)

  1. https://kidskonnect.com/history/ancient-mesopotamia/

  2. Read through this website of information and find where it lists the gods and what their jobs were.

  3. Add a slide to your presentation on gods and goddesses and list the following and explain who they are:

    1. Anu

    2. Enlil

    3. Utu

    4. Nanna

    5. Inanna

    6. Ninhursag

    7. Enki

  4. Rewatch this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vglAeKfm2XA

    1. Make another slide describe the role the gods played in the citystates

    2. Add a slide summarizing the Epic of Gilgamesh

   Task 7 (Next 4 Slides)

To develop your understanding of Mesopotamia you will visit the following website to collect informational facts:http://goo.gl/PNl9CC

When the website is downloaded follow the steps below.

Make a Google Slide for Vocabulary.

  1. At the website, Scroll down to STUDENT AREA


    2. Write the definition of the following vocabulary words in .

      1. Tigris and Euphrates

      2.  Mesopotamia

      3. Sumer

      4. city-state

Click the back button.

Make a Slide for Geography

  1. At the website, In the STUDENT AREA click on Geography.

  2. Read the passage and answer the following questions in your slide.

    1. What does “Mesopotamia” mean?

    2. Where was Mesopotamia located?

    3. What present day country would Mesopotamiabe located in?

Click on the back button.

Make a Slide for Sumerian City-State

  1. At the website, In the STUDENT AREA click on The Sumerian City-State.

  2. Read the passage and answer the following questions in your slide:

    1.  What people established the first civilization?

    2. What was the center of each city-state?

    3. Describe the people that lived in the city-state?

 Click on the back button.

Make a Slide for The Ziggurat

  1. At the website, In the STUDENT AREA click on The Ziggurat.

  2. Read the passage and answer the following questions in your slide:

    1. The _________ was the first  major building structure of the Sumerians?

    2. Who was housed in the ziggurat?

Close webpage when completed.

Task 8 ( Next Slide)

  1. Add any other important or interesting information you did not include, but wanted to.

Task 9 (Final Slide)
  1. Proofread slides

  2. Make a conclusion slide stating why you think it is important to study Ancient Mesopotamia.

Task 10

When you have your slides all completed (or poster is complete), make a Kahoot.

If you have not created an account, go to getkahoot.com. Click “Sign up for Free”– you are a student under 16. Complete the rest of the information. Username is firstlastname2022 and password is Tigerslunchpin.

Create a Quiz with at least 5 questions.

Use information you learned from the previous tasks (videos, websites) and that is in your slide presentation.

When you are finished with Project AND Kahoot, set up a time to present your project to the class and play the kahoot.

You will be graded on the total sum of the project including all individual parts.  See rubric in your binder.

You’ve learned a lot about ancient Mesopotamia and created a wonderful project. I hope you enjoyed learning about the beginnings of civilization and that you now have a better understanding of how man and why man created the first civilizations.

Exemplary 4 Accomplished 3 Developing 2 Beginning 1 Score
Task Completion All tasks were completed according to the timeline Most tasks were completed according to the timeline Some tasks were completed according to the timeline Few tasks were completed according to the timeline 1 2  3 4
Time on task Students used class time extremely effectively Students used class time effectively Students did not use class time effectively Students used class time poorly
1 2  3
Cooperative Students exhibited outstanding behavior in their dealings with teachers and peers Students exhibited satisfactory behavior in their dealings with teachers and peers Students exhibited poor behavior in their dealings with either the teachers or their peers Students exhibited poor behavior in their dealings with teachers and peers
1 2  3
Contains information that is organized and uses details and examples from the research to clearly answer the questions Contains information that is organized and clearly answer the questions in some detail. Contains information that addresses the questions but may not be clearly written or organized Contains little information that  answers the questions
1 2 3
Mechanics Little or no grammatical or spelling mistakes; Few grammatical or spelling mistakes; Several grammatical or spelling mistakes; Many grammatical or spelling mistakes;
1 2 3
Written entirely in the authors’ own words. Written entirely in the authors’ own words. Written mostly in the authors’ own words. Copied the words from another author
Presentation Presentation was visually effective and held the attention of the audience; Presentation was complete and conveyed the necessary information; Presentation was somewhat effective; Presentation was disorganizes and ineffective
1 2 3
Presenters put the map, chart, and artifacts to good use Presenters used themap, chart,  and artifacts Presenters did not use either map and/or chart and/or artifacts
____ / 24   =

Essay Writing

Essay Writing 
Day One:  Collecting Ideas as Essayists
Day Two:  Growing Essay Ideas
Day Three:  Growing Essay Ideas Continued
essay 1
Day Four:  Contrasting Narrative and Non-Narrative Structures
Day Five:  Creating your essay.  I checked your ideas and reasons in Google Drive, please check my comment next to your reasons.  Several students need to revise their idea/reasons.  Once you have revised your reasons begin your Essay Template.
You will only be working on the Idea/Lesson box.  First, write your idea/lesson as a statement.  Next tell your story in a quick blurb.
Day Six and Seven:   Today you will be working on the reasons in your template.  Type each reason from “Essay Ideas” spreadsheet into a separate box.   Each reason needs to be supported with evidence.
Evidence should sound very familiar.  We have talked about supporting your CR answers with evidence from the text in reading.  Your evidence won’t come from the text.  Instead it should come from common sense and personal experiences.  Evidence is the “supporting details” for each reason.  We will check out my “Essay Template” on the projector before you begin.  (If absent, you should have the document in your Google Drive).
Go to your “Essay Template” and work on reasons and evidence.  All three boxes need to be finished.  Remember to share your document with me.
Day Eight:  Conclusion

Narrative Writing

My students love the opportunity narrative writing gives them.  This is truly to time where they may develop their creative writing skills.  We discuss the difference between personal narratives and narratives.  They create true and fictional pieces.  We also build in lots of share time at the end of each writing day.  

Ideas are often the most difficult place for students to be.  They may sit for the entire writing time with a blank paper in front of them if you let them.  I have found conferences are crucial for those students during the ideas phase.  We spend many days in the beginning of the year developing idea lists in our writers journals.  We also add to the ideas throughout the school year.  
Ideas Chart
 Writing Narratives
My heart map
Planning and Drafting:
Good Beginnings
Creating Tension 
good endings

Opinion Writing: Is Education Important?

One of the most important things to remember when teaching opinion, persuasive, or argumentative writing is to make it interesting to your students.  If they’re not invested in a topic you will never receive quality writing.  EVER!  One of the topics my kids really enjoyed is below. However, if a student truly doesn’t want to write about this topic work with them to choose something else.  They aren’t little robots, there’s a reason I chose this video and topic.  It’s time we think differently about education.

think different



Is Education Important?

Day 1:  Do we really need education?  Is it truly important?  What are your thoughts about education?  Write the answers to these questions and any comments you have about education on the first clean sheet of paper in your writing journal.  Be honest, I really want to know.  After you have finished writing your answers and comments in your journal watch the following video from the perspective of a 13 year old boy.

Hackschoolsing Makes Me Happy

Updated:  Hackschooling Makes Me Happy

After Watching the video create a mind map through your google drive using either coggle or mindmeister. My favorite is coggle.


Include the following:

  1.  Ways you learn:  How do you learn best?  Can you just listen to something and understand it?  Do you need to see things to understand them?  Do you like to do hands-on activities?
  2. What would be your ideal learning environment? Really think on this one.  Be creative.  Time and money don’t really matter.
  3.  How can we teach you better in the “real world” setting? Limited time, funds, and resources.  Remember we don’t have all the money in the world so flights to see Boston are out of the picture 🙂

Day 2:  Using the information you came up with in your mind map create your own document in Google drive.  You need to include the three points above.  Once you have finished your assignment share the document with me in Google classroom.   

Check out yesterday’s lesson.  Opinion Writing:  Just Plain Vanilla!


W.5.1: Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.

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.
  • Provide a concluding statement or section related to the opinion presented.


Opinion Writing: Just Plain Vanilla!

The following lessons came from a wonderful conference on the MU campus about a year ago.  A fellow teacher and I learned oodles of information about opinion, persuasive, and argumentative writing.


“Just Plain Vanilla!!!!”  Intro to Opinion Writing 

Day 1:  Determine your favorite ice cream.  Mine is Vanilla!  Oh so many childhood memories…..Unfortunately thanks to my dad’s incessant desire to goad me, nearly all ice cream occasions resulted in a near catastrophic meltdown.  I only wanted, “JUST PLAIN VANILLA!!!!”

Once you know your favorite flavor jot it down at the top of the first clean sheet of paper in your writing journal.  Next, create your own ice cream bowl like the one below under where you wrote the flavor.

ice cream

Inside the bowl write all the reasons it might be your favorite ice cream.  It could be the taste or include special memories like mine.

Taking these ideas from your journal “write in the air” with a partner.  Next, begin writing your flash draft using the Opinion Essay Template.  Don’t forget to color code your “Painted Essay”

Student Examples

Cappuccino Fudge



My favorite ice cream is cappuccino fudge.  It makes a dark rainy day a bright sunny day.

Reason 1:  Cappuccino ice cream is the best flavor because it taste good with hot fudge.
    Evidence 1:  With hot fudge it gives it more flavor.     Evidence 2:  With more flavor it makes more people want to eat it.     Evidence 3:  If everyone tries it no one could rub it in anyones face.
Reason 2: Lets say your parents do not let you have coffee.  As long as they did not say you cannot have coffee flavored ice cream you can have some.  Taste it and weep.
    Evidence 1: Well one reason is coffee flavored ice cream does not have actual coffee in it.     Evidence 2:  It might taste like coffee, but one thing you should know is the ice cream does not keep you awake at night.     Evidence 3: Last time I had cappuccino ice cream I fell asleep in the car so you will not have to worry about staying up all night.
Reason 3: It is like heaven on the tip of your tongue.
    Evidence 1:  It has fudge on it so of course it would be delicious.     Evidence 2:  It has a light creamy texture that makes you want more.     Evidence 3: The aroma is light, but also very strong.  They should make it a candle.
Conclusion:  Now is this enough to make you want some, because if it is not then I might as well give up on you.  If you do try it make sure you brought extra money.

Banana Ice Cream is the BEST!!!!


As everyone knows banana ice cream is the best ice cream in the world. If you think it’s horrible, I’m sorry but you deserve to go to jail. By the time I’m done talking, your mouth will be watering for banana ice cream.

Reason 1: Every single 4th of July my mom gets banana ice cream.
    Evidence 1: She would call “ice cream time!!!” and all the kids would sprint to the house like a cheetah.
    Evidence 2: Most the time people will be asking for seconds but there was none because people had already finished it off.     Evidence 3: Next time my mom needs to make 2 batches of it.
Reason 2: It’s all homemade
    Evidence 1: She buys Vanilla ice cream and lots of bananas at the store, then cuts them all up and tosses them into the mixer     Evidence 2: The mixer is so loud it gives me a headache. Evidence 3: But its worth it for the banana ice cream.

    Reason 3: Chunks of bananas
  Evidence 1: its delicious with the chunks of banana against the creamy ice cream     Evidence 2:


Day 2:  Elaboration is the hardest part!  Use the following suggestions to help you develop your elaboration and micro stories.

  • I think
  • I feel
  • I like…./I don’t like
  • My favorite part
  • My favorite thing
  • This was interesting
  • This was sad
  • The book is so…
  • Because…
  • When…
  • The reason…
  • One reason…
  • I suggest…
  • I would recommend…

Use the following starters to push your thinking

  • In other words…
  • That is…
  • The important thing about this is…
  • As I’m saying this, I’m realizing…
  • This is giving me the idea that…
  • An example of this is…
  • This shows…
  • Another example of this is…
  • This connects to…

Find a partner.  One is the teacher, one is the student.  The “student” will write in the air, stating clam and reasons.  The “teacher” uses the prompts to help develop reasons through conversation.

Mentor Text Options:

  • Dear Mrs. LaRue:  Letters from Obedience School
  • Click, Clack, Moo:  Cows that Type
  • Duck for President
  • The True Story of the Three Little Pigs


W.5.1: Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.

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.
  • Provide a concluding statement or section related to the opinion presented.


Persuade Me

It’s always a success when both the kids and I have fun with a lesson.  As the kids were leaving the classroom yesterday I overheard them telling my next hour students things like, “It was actually a fun lesson today” or “You’re going to like class today.”  Of course, I had to get over the word “actually.”  Hey, I understand ELA isn’t the most entertaining subject matter.  I’m up against some pretty creative hands-on classes.  I’ll take what I can get.



Yesterday, I started the kids off with a partner.  They were allowed to use any two appropriate commercials they found on the internet.  They identified the ad techniques, and target audience for each commercial.  THEY GOT IT!  It was the first day they were truly able to show me they understood the content.  We then did a nearpod to close out the lesson.

Today we started off with a Kahoot: Chevy Volt.  As we went through the kahoot we discussed the difference in the commercials.  They were able to explain why one commercial was better at selling the product over the other.

Then they had the true test.  I became the target audience, listing out my wants and needs in a new car.

  1. Reliability (must have)
  2. Under $30,000 (must have)
  3. New-5 years old (must have)
  4. Fuel efficiency, I drive 60 miles a day minimum. (Optional)
  5. Every other weekend I have my nephews, so 6-7 seater.  (Optional)

They needed to find a commercial that would sell me on a vehicle, and create a slide presentation persuading  me to go out and buy the car.  For the most part, I was truly impressed.  Of course, I ended up with one Bugatti, one Lexus, and a Cadillac Escalade, but the rest really targeted me.  Several Ford Explorers, a prius, a couple subarus, and other various vehicles I have considered over the past few months.

As a whole group we watched the commercials and determined who hit the the target the best.  Here were the winners.

Class #1:  Ford Explorer (under $30,000 for a previous year model, 6-7 seater, easy with kids.)

Class #2:  1st place (infer it is reliable, family, emotional appeal, under $30,000 new) and runner up (Fuel efficiency, good price point)



Consumer Savvy: Ad Awareness

It was a Monday!  Educators you know what that means.  My kids returned with baggage and no recollection of what we did the previous week.  It can be the most discouraging day sometimes, but it can also be viewed as a clean slate.  We needed to go back over advertisements, determine target audiences, and strategies advertisers use.

To begin I passed out several print ads glued them to construction paper, and had the kids carousel around the room in groups of 3-4 students.  Their assignment was to jot down strategies advertisers used and determine a target audience.  We then discussed what they wrote.  Through this activity I was able to assess we desperately needed more instruction on strategies.  I retaught through a short mini lesson.


After the mini lesson I had the kids go to https://todaysmeet.com on their Chromebook where they discussed different print ads I had on the screen.  Again, one of my classes struggled identifying the strategies used.



This brings us to Tuesday.  We created an anchor chart with various ad techniques.  The first half were review, but we added some new techniques to our repertoire as well.


Once we created the anchor chart in our journals, the kids moved into their partner activity.  They viewed the following two commercials and identified the ad techniques and target audience.

Each commercial had multiple techniques.  It turned into a great conversation to close out the lesson.

Check out Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3 of our Consumer Savvy unit!


The Civil War

Each year my fifth graders learn about the Civil War and enjoy a day at a national battlefield.  Below is the webquest my students work through at their own pace before our field trip.

Civil War Webquest

civil war
Civil War Webquest Introduction: Welcome to the Civil War Webquest. By completing this webquest, you will have viewed many wonderful cites on the Civil War that will teach you many things. Make sure that you don’t miss out on the fun and enjoy learning about Civil War. To complete the webquest, go through each of the questions and click on the link next to the question.  This will take you to a website that will allow you to read and answer the question. So, have fun and lets learn about the Civil War!!!
Question 1. What was the main cause of the Civil War?  http://www.ngeorgia.com/history/why.html
Question 2. What invention helped to contribute to the start of the Civil War and how did it help contribute to the start of the Civil War?
Question 3. Another cause of the Civil War was state rights and how this was interpreted by both the North and the South. What does state rights mean and how did this topic in the constitution cause a conflict between the North and the South?  http://www.civilwarhome.com/statesrights.htm
Question 4. Another key contributor to the Civil War was the different economic styles in both the North and the South. What were the different economic styles of both the North and the South during the Civil War period and why do you think they could not coexist? (this answer is not on a website you need to expand your thinking about what types of lifestyles the two sides lived.)
Question 5.  Before the Civil War, there were many attempts to try and make both sides coexist with one another. In order to do this there were a series of compromises made to help settle disputes. What were the Missouri Compromise of 1820 (1 and 2) and the Compromise of 1850 and what did each try to establish? (Missouri Compromise (1 and 2) is part one and Compromise of 1850 is part 2)  Part 1:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Missouri_Compromise   Part 2:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compromise_of_1850
Question 6. What was the Kansas-Nebraska Act and what did it try to accomplish?http://www.historyplace.com/lincoln/kansas.htm
Question 7. What was the Dred Scott Decision and how do you think the North and South reacted to this decision?http://www.historyplace.com/lincoln/dred.htm
Question 8. What did John Brown do and why do you think it put fear in the Southern States?http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part4/4p1550.html
Question 9.  Who was the President during the time of the Civil War and what does he say he is trying to do by going to war with the South?  http://www.whitehouse.gov/history/presidents/al16.html
Question 10. Instead of listening to Lincoln’s warning, the southern states succeed the Union and become their own nation. What is the name of this nation and what does the first three paragraphs tell you about the war?http://www.civilwarhome.com/csa.htm
Question 11. The South started to attack the North at a fort; this was the first battle of the Civil War. When and where was this battle? Also, how many casualties were there and how did they die?http://www.civilwarhome.com/ftsumter.htm
Question 12. Both sides, wanting to end the war quickly, began to march straight for each others capital city (Union = Washington, Confederate = Richmond). On their ways they meet in Virginia near the Manassas and proceeded to have the first land battle of the War. What was this battle called and how did the famous General Jackson receive the name Stonewall? What did this battle prove?  http://library.thinkquest.org/3055/netscape/battles/bullrun.html
Question 13.  After being attacked enough at Richmond, Confederate General Robert E. Lee decided that he had enough and began to attack the Union (North) on their own soil. His first encounter was at Antietam in Maryland where he proceeded to have the bloodiest single day of war ever. The number of soldiers lost at this battle compares to other battles how and what do you think this showed the South about the North being that it was the first time they had ever attacked the North on their own land?  http://www.nps.gov/archive/anti/battle.htm
Question 14. Lincoln used the Battle at Antietam to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. What is the Emancipation Proclamation and what did it still leave into question according to the Southern States?http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/featured_documents/emancipation_proclamation
Question 15. The North’s economic and military power was beginning to sway the war in their favor. The Confederates faced shortages of food and weapons when they began to fight the Battle of Gettysburg. What was this battle considered; how long did the battle last; how many Americans were involved; what caused General Lee to loose the battle when he had the Union Army on the ropes? http://www.historyplace.com/civilwar/battle.htm
Civil War Webquest After the Battle of Gettysburg, Union General Ulysses S. Grant captured the Confederates last major defense in the Mississippi causing the Confederates Army to be separated. Gen. Lee finally surrendered his army to Gen. Grant at Appomattox Court House in Virginia and then a week later the Confederate Army surrendered at the Battle of Bentoville. This was the last major battle of the Civil War. In conclusion to your Civil War Webquest, you need to write a couple paragraphs explaining the following things: how do you think the United States would be different if the South would have won; do you think the Civil War was inevitable or do you think it could have been prevented; and finally what do you now know about the Civil War that you didn’t before.