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Improving Math & Science Learning: Oh, Canada

Oh, Canada!!
Grade: 5th
Teacher: Dawn Falcone
Location:  P.S. 6

 Unit Objectives:

1.       This project will address social studies standards by giving students an opportunity to investigate why people and places are located where they are, as well as gather and organize geographic information from a variety of sources and display that information in a number of ways. 

2.       Students will be working cooperatively to research provinces and territories of Canada and construct a map.

3.       Students will also be developing their psychomotor skills (hand-eye coordination for computer use, spatial awareness in map development, and effective body language for presentation of research).



1.       A variety of books about Canada (see Additional Resources)

2.       A large map of Canada and/or globe

3.       Large chart paper

4.       Poster board and tape  

5.       Rulers/Yardsticks

6.       Pencils, markers

7.       Colored index cards/construction paper 

8.       Computers with Grolier and/or other Encyclopedia CD-ROMs, word processing software (i.e. PowerPoint, AppleWorks), and Internet access


Suggested Sites:    

CanadaInfo: A Tribute to Canada is over 200 pages of information about Canada - its government, history, facts, people, security, geography, provinces, symbols and more. Browse through statistics, maps, and photographs and then choose from dozens of fact sheets to download to your computer.
Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation:
Would you like to embark on a journey through time and see exhibits on aspects of Canada’s social and economic history?  Virtual tours!

Canadian Information By Subject: This site is an information service developed by the National Library of Canada to provide links to information about Canada from Internet resources around the world. The subject arrangement is in the form of a "Subject Tree", based on the structure of the Dewey Decimal Classification system. This service is updated regularly and is constantly developing and expanding. Be sure to check back often to see the latest additions.

Learn about Canada's geography through texts and maps; access datasets; use our interactive mapping tool; meet our partners; try our quiz and consult our teaching resources section.


Additional Resources:    


Canada is My Home
David K. Wright
Gareth Stevens Publishing, 1992
Simple text.  A look at one girl’s life in Canada.

Canada: The Land & Canada: The People & Canada: The Culture

Bobby Kalman, Editor-in-Chief
Crabtree Publishing Co. 1993
Great series.  Full information.

Cool Geography
Jane Glicksman
Price Stern Sloan, 1998
Describes maps, hemispheres, continents, countries, and people.
How to Draw Maps and Charts
Pam Beasant and Alastair Smith
Usborne Publishing Ltd, 1993
Contains easy to read how-to’s and different types of maps.

Let’s Discover Canada (Series)
Pierre Berton, Senior Consulting Editor
Chelsea House Publishers, 1992
Another great series, books are available on each

People and Places: Canada
Lionel Bender
Templar Publishing Ltd, 1988
Nice, short overview.  Good maps.

Canada:  A Nation’s Quest for Identity
Knowledge Unlimited, Copyright 1994
Canada ,Video Visits
Both are good to watch if you have time and access to a TV/VCR.



Cartography                        Boundaries                              
Latitude                              Boarders
Longitude                           Quadrant
Parallel                               Natural Resources 
Province                             Elevation, Political, Physical Maps      
Territory                              Key (Map)


Session 1  Introduction of Project  

1.  Start a conversation with your students about Canada.  On a large piece of chart paper, make a list of what the students already know about Canada.  Things that are often mentioned include: names of cities, French is spoken in different regions, it's cold there, etc.
2.  If no one has brought up the way Canada is divided up-into Provinces & Territories-pose the question: Does Canada have states like we do?  (Without fail, so far, there is someone who knows about the Provinces & Territories.) Be sure to explore and explain the differences between states and Provinces & Territories.
3.  Begin to generate a list (using the large chart paper) of the Provinces (10) & Territories (3).  Usually some students will know the names of at least a few because of sports teams; you can fill in the rest. (At this point, I don’t point out where each province/territory is located.  I want the students to discover where they are on their own.)

Provinces                                    Territories
Quebec                                        Yukon    
British Columbia                           Northwest                                      
New Brunswick                             Nunavut
New Foundland
Nova Scotia             
Prince Edward Island     

4.  Introduce the project--making a map of Canada.  Tell the students that for the next four sessions they will be learning so many more things about Canada by becoming map-makers , or cartographers if you prefer, and researchers.  At the end of the project they will have produced a large map of Canada that includes information about each province and territory.  Explain that they will be working with a partner (This works ideally with 26 children, 2 students per province/territory.  But you can make it work for almost any number by making different sized groups.) to learn more about one particular province/territory.  For two sessions one person will be working on the map and the other person will be collecting information.  They will switch roles for the last two sessions. 

5.  Give students time to find a partner (or have the groups prepared beforehand) and discuss what province/territory they would like to study and who would like to be map-maker or researcher first.

6.  In a fair way (for example, drawing names from a cup), have students select their province/territory-one group per province/territory.

7.  Finally, decide what type of map you will be making.  Make a list and show examples of different types of maps your students have seen.  Types you could include are: road, elevation, bodies of water, political, population, tourist attractions, and natural resources.  (I do this with 7 different groups over the course of the school year, so I have each group make a different type of map.)

8.  Wrap up by saying that you are excited to begin working on the map and learning more about Canada at your next session.


Session 2     Begin Map and Research 


1.  Begin with a quick review of what you discussed at the last session.  Be sure to have the chart that you made visible.
2.  Students will then separate into their map-maker and researcher groups.  Researchers should go off to where the Canada books are located and begin gathering information, while you get the map-makers started.
3.  Meet with map-makers in your rug area (or another large open area).  Give them copies of a small, simplified map of Canada. 

Ask students for their ideas about how to go about making a larger version of the map, that will be about 4' x 6'.  List suggestions.  The goal is to get the students to see the importance of breaking down the map into manageable chunks.  I recommend a quadrant system.  You begin by dividing the small map into four equal quadrants (so it looks like a 2x2 array).  Then divide each of those quadrants into four more equal parts, so that you wind up with 16 sections on your small map.  You may want to use an overhead projector to demonstrate the map breakdown. Students should be dividing their maps as well.
4.  Bring out four pieces of poster board and tape and discuss how to put them together so that they will work for the map, 2x2 array.  Discuss how each large piece of poster board corresponds to the original four quadrants you drew on the small map.  Students will then need to divide each of those quadrants into four quadrants with rulers for the total of 16 quadrants.
5.  Talk about how the content and detail of each quadrant on the small map should now be transferred into the corresponding quadrant of the large map.  You need to discuss the importance of working together on the outer boarders before moving in to the individual province/territory boarders.
1.       Let them get started in PENCIL.  (There will be mistakes and frustration.  This is not an easy task.) Researchers:
7.  Meet with the researchers and talk about the kinds of information they are finding and where they are looking.  Make a list of the things that they want to be sure to include on their information cards about their provinces and territories, suggestions include: the capital, population, brief history, and natural resources.  (Be sure to add anything you want them to have and gear toward the type of map you want to make.)  If you have a limited amount of computer access, set up a schedule for researcher use.  Let them keep working. 8.  Wrap up by calling every one together and explaining that during the next session they will have the same jobs. They will come in and get right to work.  You may want ask students to look for information on their own that will assist their research and/or map development, before the next session.

Session 3     Continue Map and Research

1.  Begin with a quick review of what you discussed at the last session.
2.  What have you learned so far about your provinces and territories?
3.  What questions do you have about your provinces and territories?
4. How will you gather information about your provinces and territories and proceed on the map during this session?
Map-makers will get to work on the map.  Remind students to focus on putting the content and detail from each quadrant on the small map onto the corresponding quadrant of the large map and that outer boarders should be put in first.  At some point during this session, you will want to discuss why boarders are shaped the way they are, i.e. they follow a natural boundary like a river, they follow a parallel, etc.
6. Prior to the researchers returning to their research, discuss briefly the importance of using their own words when taking notes.  (The amount of time you spend on this will depend greatly on the amount of research experience your students have.  You may want to have examples of notes, ranging from excellent to fair, ready to show.)  
7. Allow the students to work for the rest of the session.  Float around the room offering assistance and advice when necessary.  By the end of this session, the map should really be taking shape.  All of the outer boarders should be in place, as well as the interior province/territory boarders.  Researchers should have found most of the information they will need to compile.  
8. Wrap up by informing the students that at the next session they will be switching jobs.  

Session 4    Switching of Jobs & Continue Map and Research

1.       Begin with a quick review of what everyone was working on during the last session.
·         How far have we gotten on the map?
·         What still needs to be completed?
·         Have researchers found enough information on their provinces and territories?
2.  Move into a discussion of how to have a successful transition of jobs as a whole class then give students 10 minutes or so to meet with their province/territory partner to discuss what they have been working on specifically and where the other person needs to get started. Map-makers should go over the process they have gone through to get the map to the point it is at.  Researchers should let their partners know what information is required on the final card for the map.
3.  Allow the students to work for the rest of the session.  Float around the room offering assistance and advice when necessary.  By the end of this session, the map should be nearly finished.  For example, if you are making a bodies of water map all of the outer borders should be in place, as well as the interior province/territory boarders and the outlines of the major rivers and lakes.  Researchers should be nearly finished also, to the point writing up their information and typing it into the computer. (Again, a schedule may be necessary in order to get the research typed up in a timely manner, for example, I have three computers in my classroom so I usually have researchers go on them in twenty minute shifts.)
4.  Wrap up by informing the students that at the next session they will be finishing up the map and talking to the other students about their province/territory.   (You may want to provide this information earlier in the project if you need to motivate your students to work more efficiently.)

Session 5     Map and Information Card Completion & Presentations

1.  Bring the students together and let them know how much time they have to complete their work, about half of the session.  Have them get started.
2.  Meet briefly with each group.
·         Map-makers need to make sure that all parts of the map are labeled, that there is a title for the map, and a key if needed.
·         Researchers need to finish typing up their work, mount their work on colored index cards/construction paper, and attach the cards to the map near their province/territory. (I suggest taping all the way around the cards to make them very secure.)
3.  Partners should meet after each of their assignments are complete to discuss their province/territory presentation.  After collecting information over the course of the unit, I expect students to be able to discuss their research freely in an unscripted manner.
4.  When all of the work is finished, put the map up on a wall and gather students for their presentations and culminating discussion.

Final Activity:
Each group will present highlights of what they have learned about their province/territory for two to three minutes.  Students will be able to ask questions of each other.  If available when presentations are finished, compare your map to a large wall map of Canada.  What differences/similarities do they see?  Also, talk about the process of making the map and doing the research.  What did they do really well?  What could they have done better? (Sometimes I have them write a reflection of the project instead.)

Students will be assessed on their performance throughout the project, the accuracy of the map, their province/territory information card, and their presentation of information.  You may want to use the following Canada Evaluation sheet. 


            Canada Evaluation






I.  Map
Is province/territory complete?
Does the province/territory resemble the actual province/territory?
For the type of map being made, is enough information included?
Was province/territory completed in a timely manner?
Points possible: 30

Points earned:_____

II. Research
Does province/territory information card include all necessary
Did students use a variety of resources to gather information?
Is writing in students’ own words, free of spelling/grammatical
Is information card neat and easy to read?
Was research completed in a timely manner?
Points possible: 30

Points earned:_____

III. Group Cooperation
Did students work on the map/research cooperatively?
Were students able to remain on task?
Were students able to switch roles from researcher to map-maker
Points possible: 30

Points earned:_____

IV. Presentation
Were students able to answer questions?
Did students use vocabulary discussed in class?
Points possible: 10

Points earned:_____

                                                                                   Total points possible: 10

                                                                                   Total points earned:______


1.  Students begin working on the map using rulers and yardsticks to divide the poster board into sections.

2. Students continue working on the map using the small maps of Canada that have been divided into quadrants, pencils, and rulers.  

3. Students use computers to learn more about their provinces and territories.

4.   A student begins to take notes and uses a computerized dictionary to find the meaning of a word.

5. Completed maps: Bodies of Water and Natural Resources




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