A Monumental Assignment
By Nancy Gerber, November 4, 2007
- Elementary School
- Language Arts
- Social Studies
Two to three fifty-minute class periods
Students will understand why monuments are built and design a new one to be placed on the Capitol Mall or in another important public place. Social studies, language arts, and drawing skills will be combined to create a short class presentation.
Standard 1. Uses the general skills and strategies of the writing process Benchmark 10. Writes expressive compositions (e.g., expresses ideas, reflections, and observations; uses an individual, authentic voice; uses narrative strategies, relevant details, and ideas that enable the reader to imagine the world of the event or experience) Standard 8. Uses listening and speaking strategies for different purposes
Benchmark 3. Knows how different media (e.g., oil, watercolor, stone, metal), techniques, and processes are used to communicate ideas, experiences, and stories
Standard 3. Understands the people, events, problems, and ideas that were significant in creating the history of their state Benchmark 6. Knows important buildings, statues, and monuments in the state's history Knowledge/skill statements: 1.Knows buildings that are important in the state’s history 2.Knows statues that memorialize important persons or events in the state’s history; 3.Knows monuments that memorialize important persons or events in the state’s history
Standard 9. Understands the importance of Americans sharing and supporting certain values, beliefs, and principles of American constitutional democracy Level II. Benchmark 4. Knows how various symbols are used to depict Americans' shared values, principles, and beliefs and explain their meaning (e.g., the flag, Statue of Liberty, Statue of Justice, Uncle Sam, great seal, national anthem, oaths of office, mottos such as E Pluribus Unum)
Students will: • explain why monuments are built • identify and explain a symbol that unites people in a community • define 'community' • identify some of their communities
- Web sites or a video of a national, state or local monument (for example, the National Mall in Washington, DC; Egypt, English, or Mayan Civilizations, etc.)
- A field trip or tour of a local monument (if posssible)
- Drawing paper to sketch monument plan
- Recycled materials and/ or modeling clay
• monument • national • civic • community • scale • style • classic
- Show the class examples of monuments and encourage discussion. A field trip to a local monument is best, but videos, Web sites, and photos will also work.
- Either break the class into groups or assign the following prompt individually: Imagine you are going to design the next monument on the Mall. What would you choose to represent or honor?
- Hand out the “A Monumental Assignment” worksheet (attached) and have each student or group answer the first five questions and then share their responses with the a class.
- Have students brainstorm ideas for a new monument and select two. Students should share their ideas with the class and apply the class criteria list to see if their idea is appropriate.
- Approve ideas for the students ensuring there is not too much repetition of subjects.
- Students should continue filling out their worksheet, working on the model and their persuasive essay (both mentioned on the worksheet).
- Allow time for each student to present their design ideas and model to the class.
Students can be assessed on the answers on their worksheet, their model, their presentation, and their persuasive writing assignment.
Enrichment Extension Activities
- In order to extend the student's perspective, I would ask students to design or suggest a monument for the United States, the world, or another larger community.
- Students could create more elaborate models and further explain their choice of the style, the design, and the materials chosen.
- An enrichment activity would include an exploration of more precise mathematical scale.
My students are third-graders and their interpretations and experiences are literal and concrete. This lesson was difficult for them. Establishing a perspective was a challenge. Initial ideas for monuments included everything from God to their hamster. I allowed a variety of subjects including the state fish, sports figures, and a memorial to the bridge collapse victims. This turned out to be in part an unintended lesson about diversity and gender. We had good discussions about values. I learned that good models require a great deal more time and structure than I allowed. In the future I will allow more time for modeling, along with examples of models of monuments, and time to play with materials.