Unit 1 Building Block 1:  

The Geography of the United States

Big Idea:

  • Economic, social, and political patterns are influenced by geographical factors.
  • Where people live is shaped by economic, social, political, and environmental factors.

Building Block Overview:

As students identify physical features of the United States, they will also be labeling and using maps that will be utilized in future lessons. This building block establishes the Interactive Student Notebook as a tool for continuous student use and spiraled review throughout the year.

Student Outcomes:

  • I can identify physical features of the United States.
  • I can communicate effectively using written, oral, and visual formats.
  • I can organize and interpret information in timelines, visuals, and maps.

The Interactive Student Notebook

1. Use any composition notebook.

2. Decorate the cover using cut out pictures, photos, duck tape, contact paper, or butcher paper.

**I like to use butcher paper from the large rolls in the teacher's lounge. I teach the kids to wrap it like a present and will spend 15 minutes showing them how to do this. Then they decorate the cover. These will usually last most of the year, and it's no additional cost to the teacher.

3. Page 1 - Meet the Historian

**I use this page to allow the students to write a paragraph about themselves and to tell what they enjoy about Social Studies.

4. Page 2 and 3 - Table of Contents

**I have the students number their pages along with me so they are all the same. That way, when I take a notebook quiz to check accuracy of their notebooks, I know we are all on the same page. It also helps to have the same pages so that when students are absent, they know which pages they need to complete.

**Notebook Check example: I will give a 10 question quiz on the accuracy of their notebooks. For an example: What is the title of the map on page 4? Using the map on page 4, which Ocean is located west of the United States?

5. Page 4 - Parent Signature Page

**I use this page for the parents to sign after the students have showed their parents the pages they've completed. They usually get some sort of small reward for getting their parent signatures.


Geography of the U.S.

1.  Download the Skitch Touch free app onto your devices.

2.  Make a copy of maps 1A and 1D out of the Interactive Student Notebook, one for each table or group of students.  Use this app to take a picture of maps 1A and 1D, then label the maps using the corresponding pages in the red SSA student textbooks.

3. Print completed maps and glue into ISN and save a copy on the devices.

4. Visit the following online websites for more practice.

5.  SSA Lesson Guide page 7  Reading Further:  Where Geography Meets History

Read and discuss with the students, red student textbook pages 12-15.  These pages will help reinforce the "Big Ideas: of this building block:

Big Idea:

  • Economic, social, and political patterns are influenced by geographical factors.
  • Where people live is shaped by economic, social, political, and environmental factors.

6.  Checkpoint Assessments:  Located at the end of each of the building blocks.  These may be given to small groups, pairs, or individually at the time.  Use them to guide your teaching for now, but the hope is that students can complete these independently.