It’s that time of year again when split grade teachers face the challenge of organizing their social studies programs in a way that doesn’t overwhelm either themselves or their students. I’ve written about how Grade 5/6 social studies can be approached, and today I’m hoping to help Grade 4/5 teachers look at Strand A of the Ontario Social Studies with a positive outlook!
A quick reminder: the two units are:
- Grade 4: Early Societies, 3000 BCE – 1500 CE
- Grade 5: First Nations and Europeans in New France and Early Canada
Looking at the Big Ideas in Strand A
The Heritage and Identity strand of the Ontario Social Studies Curriculum asks students to explore a variety of communities, focusing upon:
a) connections between the past and the present
b) interactions within and between different communities
Looking at the “big ideas” of the curriculum can help teachers focus on the most important concepts we want students to think about, even long after the actual unit is finished. I’ve spent some time thinking about the big ideas for Strand A, and organized them in this chart:
b) early societies were created through the conflict and cooperation between groups of people, and between people and their environments
By looking at the curriculum in this way, I can create a unit that let me teach one lesson to both grades, without having to run back and forth between the two groups. After a frontloading lesson about how environmental features affect where societies or cultures establish themselves, the Grade 4s can look at the way the Aztecs of Mexico and the Inuit of Canada were influenced by the land around them, while the Grade 5s can do the same with various Indigenous groups and early European settlers.