Lesson plan

Piecing Together U.S. Cities

Let’s travel across the United States! In this city-themed lesson that integrates reading and social studies, students explore the culture and history of the cities in the United States.
Grade Subject View aligned standards

Students will be able to analyze the historical events of a city, locating details about the events and people. Students will be able to use the context within sentences to determine the meaning of unknown words or phrases. Students will be able to use information from timelines, pictures, and photos to understand the context of events in history.

(5 minutes)
  • Reference the city that the students live in to tap into their prior knowledge.
  • Ask students to describe some things they have seen in the city, including community workers who help around the city.
  • Tell the students that they will be learning more about cities in the United States.
(10 minutes)
  • Using the fact sheet on the city of Dallas, model the process of using the timeline to locate key events.
  • Display the fact sheet using an interactive whiteboard, document camera, or projector.
  • Model the process of finding key words in the text that tell about an event in the city’s history.
  • Conduct a think-aloud in which you illustrate what the event might have looked like. Focus specifically on what happened and who was involved.
(10 minutes)
  • Distribute one city fact sheet per student or pair of students. Allow students who need a little more support to work in partners.
  • Tell the students that their job is to identify important events in the history of a city.
  • Instruct the class to consider what happened and who was involved. For some descriptions students will need to make inferences about the individuals involved.
  • Circulate around the room as students are working, questioning students about the key words they chose and discussing individual events with the students.
  • Provide feedback and as needed, use a different colored highlighter to direct students’ attention to words that they didn’t highlight.
(15 minutes)
  • Direct your students to create an illustration of an important event in a city’s history.
  • Model the process, as needed.
  • Distribute one city "square" to each student. The city name on the square should correspond to the city that they read about.
  • Ask the students to create an illustration of an event in that city that shows what happened and who was involved.
  • Enrichment: Assign students a virtual scavenger hunt! Distribute one of the city scavenger hunt pages and direct students to locate the information found in the checklist. Students can use various web search tools such as online encyclopedias and research sites.
  • Support: For students (and especially English language learners) who lack background knowledge on the characteristics of a city, use the Urban or Rural worksheet to teach the basic characteristics. For students who have difficulty locating details, provide students with a pre-highlighted worksheet. As an additional support, consider reading the facts aloud to the student and have them reread before highlighting and selecting details.
  • Have students use digital encyclopedias or other research software to research their city.
  • Encourage students to create a Google presentation or PowerPoint that describes important events in the city they researched.
(5 minutes)
  • Pass out a copy of the worksheet Local Government: Municipalities to each student.
  • Ask students to highlight key words and answer the related question.
  • Ask students to make a connection between the words in the text and what they read about their city.
  • On the back of the worksheet, ask students to write about this connection.
(15 minutes)

Close the lesson by creating a class quilt of cities!

  • Display the large, bulletin-board paper United States map in a central location.
  • Invite students to come up to the front and share their illustration, telling about the event and who was involved in the event.
  • As students are sharing, add on to a two-column chart of community workers and government officials, listing the people as students mention them.
  • Lead a discussion with the class on how people help a city function.

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