Parachuting into a wildfire? Swinging a steel adze/axe combination bigger than the Vikings used? Saving lives, saving property, saving historical landmarks? Simulating a forest fire right inside your classroom and dropping down to cut a fireline?
Count me in!
Contact time: about 6 hours. Grades: GATE 3-4-5, regular 6
Your 3rd, 4th, or 5th grade GATE students will love you for this literacy unit, and they may just accidentally learn Common Core Nonfiction Reading and Math skills along the way. Aren’t we the crafty ones, eh?
All of the reading passages in this unit are yours to copy and reproduce in the classroom. No outside reading resources are necessary. It’s all right here ready-to-print for your next day in class.
Included in this collection are the following:
“What is a Smokejumper?” -- Nonfiction reading to build background knowledge and context followed by a short, constructed response in which students personalize the reading by explaining whether they have what it takes to be a smokejumper.
“Smokejumper: Help Wanted” – Students need to make strong inferences in this Common Core Speaking and Listening activity. Our critical thinking reaches the synthesis level here as students role-play prospective applicants and interviewers for a smokejumper training position. Finally, as a commander of a smokejumping team, they’ll need to defend their choice for best applicant.
“Fireline” – Students use best practices in history and social studies as they look closely at details of a historical primary source mural. Students combine visual and textual non-fiction to reach an understanding of a topic and interpret its meaning.
“The Pulaski Tool” – Students integrate visual and textual elements and think critically using a Venn diagram as they learn about this key wildland firefighting tool.
“Smokejumper Models” – Students think mathematically using fractions and practice geometry as they prepare miniature smokejumpers who will battle a simulated wildfire in the classroom.
“Classroom Wildfire” – Finally, we set up a classroom wildfire simulation and send in our smokejumpers on a mission as students drop in their little parachuters to construct a fireline. We do gridwork (mapmaking), add and multiply fractions, estimation, and percentages as we engage in great hands-on learning.
“Bonus Math Challenge” – Students solve a word problem to map a wildfire and calculate the percentage of area of containment.