BRE first graders Jayse and Braden film their video about the Washington Monument.
Article and photo by Elean Gersack
First graders at Buffalo Ridge Elementary School (BRE) recently studied United States symbols. As part of the social studies standards for identifying and explaining the meaning of national symbols, the first grade team worked together to build a unit to excite and engage students.
There were twelve designated symbols to be studied, some of which included the White House, Lincoln Memorial, Statue of Liberty, American bald eagle, and the US Capital. The first graders collaborated to determine the symbol to be studied by each student.
Next came research through books, web searches, and video clips from Discovery Education. Students were tasked with identifying 10 important facts about their symbol. Working with a partner studying the same symbol, the pair created an online video to document their learning. The videos included an introduction, the important facts, and a conclusion about their symbol.
“I learned that the Washington Monument is 555 feet tall, it has 4 sides, it is a special symbol to honor George Washington, and that 800,000 people visit it each year,” said first grader, Jayse. Another first grader, Blake, learned about the war of 1812 and how it brought the White House down.
“It is so rewarding to see how proud the students are to be experts of their symbol and to share their videos,” shared Jennifer Murdock, first grade teacher.
The first grade teachers expanded this learning to daily lessons such as recognizing important civic dates as they arrive on the calendar, like President’s Day. Students have also used this historical knowledge to think about comparisons between the Colorado state flag and the American flag.
Students are taking their knowledge out into the big world and making connections. First grader Cole shared with his teacher, Terra Shaffner, that he found a bald eagle on the United States Post Office building in Castle Rock. “It’s amazing to see the connections students are able to make in their travels or day-to-day life,” said Murdock.