Bird on a Bare Branch

Attempting to fling a frail song in my little corner of the world

The Future Lies in Their Hands. Oh Crap. November 11, 2010

Filed under: Teaching — Jen @ 7:57 am

My students have been learning about explorers in social studies.  We haven’t gone very in-depth, but they were exposed to Columbus, Cortes, La Salle, Coronado, and Cabeza de Vaca.  Yesterday they were introduced to Lewis and Clark.

I showed them on the large US map today how Lewis and Clark started out in St. Louis and headed West.  (“West, East.  North, South.  Look, here’s Houston.  We live in the South.  Look, here’s Washington DC.  President Obama lives in the East.  They were kind of in the middle and headed West.”)

Someone asked, “Did they walk all that way?”  Very reasonable question.  I asked the class what they thought or knew about how they traveled.  I got blank looks.

I started prompting with what I thought were ridiculous questions:  “Did they fly in a plane?”

They collectively – and correctly! – responded, “No!”

I asked, “Did they sail in a ship?”

I anticipated another, “No!” but got a collective – yes, collective –  “Yes!”

I walked back to the map.  “Really, you guys?  They sailed in a ship across America??”

Another collective, “Yes!”

Me:  “Really?  In a ship? Across all this land?

Another collective, “Yes!”

I couldn’t even hide my exasperation.  “What do you need to sail a ship?”  Black looks.

One student finally said, “Water.”

I asked, “Okay, then, if you need water, was it possible for Lewis and Clark to sail a ship across America.”

I finally got a few hesitant No’s.

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3 Responses to “The Future Lies in Their Hands. Oh Crap.”

  1. Do your students equate a boat with a ship? You’ll have to show them that there were waterways but they had to go by boat, not ship.

    • Jen Says:

      Good point. I would give them that if they were aware that Lewis and Clark were traveling on waterways, but they didn’t even know that much. I think they thought, based on our previous study of explorers, that explorers, by nature, travel on ships. I’m learning very quickly that in all subject areas, they employ very little logical thinking. I’m always asking, “Think about that. Is that reasonable?”

  2. brooke Says:

    oh where oh where did jen’s blog posts go?


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