A wonderful integrated Orca Whale Unit
Subject areas: Social Studies, Visual Arts, Writing
Approximate time needed: 10 45-60 minute blocks.
10 individual lesson plans
Accompanying assessments, worksheets and rubrics
full color photos of actual student work samples
Integrated Unit Summary/Introduction
The main concepts contained in this lesson promote learning about the relationship between Orca Whales and Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest. This unit integrates geography, visual arts and writing to support student understanding through hands-on activities. The activities in the lessons are designed to provide motivating, interesting, and engaging experiences for students to learn through doing, producing, and experiencing.
Skills and Concepts
Within this unit, students will be acquiring the skills necessary to analyzing the characteristics of visual art, and then learning how to translate a conceptual knowledge of those skills into practical use when utilizing those characteristics in their own visual art pieces. Students will also be learning how to create folklore inspired by their original visual art pieces. The learning targets/Common Core Standards addressed in this unit are:
-The student uses a spatial perspective to make reasoned decisions by applying the concepts of location, region, and movement and demonstrating knowledge of how geographic features and human cultures impact environments.
- Understands the physical characteristics, cultural characteristics, and location of places, regions, and spatial patterns on the Earth's surface.
-The student makes connections within and across the arts (dance, music, theatre, and visual arts) to other disciplines, life, cultures, and work.
-Understands how the arts influence and reflect cultures/civilization, place, and time.
ELA Common Core Standards:
Use information gained from illustrations (e.g., maps, photographs) and the words in a text to demonstrate understanding of the text (e.g., where, when, why, and how key events occur).
By the end of the year, read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, at the high end of the grades 2-3 text complexity band independently and proficiently.
Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.
Introduce a topic and group related information together; include illustrations when useful to aiding comprehension.
Develop the topic with facts, definitions, and details.
Use linking words and phrases (e.g., also, another, and, more, but) to connect ideas within categories of information.
Provide a concluding statement or section.
With guidance and support from adults, produce writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task and purpose. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1-3 above.)
With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, and editing.
Integrated Unit Questions
Theme- The theme of this unit is Orca whales and their relationship with Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest.
Essential Question- How do Orca whales influence the cultures and lives of Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest?
-What ways do Orca whales influence the art of Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest?
-How do Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest depict Orca whales in their art?
-How do Native American of the Pacific Northwest depict Orca whales in their folklore?
Rationale and Purpose of the Unit
The theme of this unit was chosen because this class runs on an expeditionary learning model, where students study a specific topic as a yearlong project, and become experts in this topic. This year, the class is covering the topic of Orca whales. By choosing a topic that students are already familiar with, students should feel comfortable taking risks such as creating their own art. Focusing the study of Orca whales to a more localized arena, the Pacific Northwest, the students will get to see specifically how their local region coexists with the Orca whale. Within this unit, students get the opportunity to not only study art that has already been created in the Pacific Northwest, but to learn the techniques used in creating these visual arts and use these techniques to create their own pieces of art. Students will also be writing their own pieces of poetry to accompany their artwork, after studying traditional folkflore from the Haida of the Pacific Northwest. This unit encompasses visual arts, writing, and geography.
The theoretical philosophy that informs this unit is a strong emphasis on hands-on inquiry learning, as well as using a variety of group work, individual work, and paired work models. The integrative unit follows this model by offering students opportunities to learn in varied ways, including small and large group work, cooperative work, and individual work. Additionally, this unit is informed by the theoretical philosophy that when students are authentically motivated that they require little to no need for punishment or rewards. With this theory in mind, the lessons and activities within have been designed to offer students opportunities to become engaged and intrinsically motivated.
By not only varying instructional methods to minimize direct instruction and maximize group work experiences, but also creating motivating activities through exploration, creation of original art, and encouraging deeper level thinking, the lessons are designed to create high levels of intrinsic motivation.
Within this integrated unit, students are asked to analyze the art of Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest, giving them a basis for thinking about how different people are influenced by their natural surroundings. Additionally, students are asked to create their own authentic folklore-inspired poetry after hearing Haida folklore, thus asking students to step into the shoes of people of the Haida culture and create work using that particular lens.
Each lesson within this unit has specific modifications for students who are resource students, students who have Limited-English ability, and students who may be gifted. Accommodations vary by lesson, but all lessons include a challenge problem for gifted students, which are listed per lesson.
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