Woody Guthrie Foundation and Archives Educational Curriculum
MATH: Measurement and Scale
With a thematic approach to teaching, this project braids together social studies, geography and math. Students will be making a map of places Woody traveled and wrote about in his songs. The map will be used to teach the concept of scale. The perimeter of the map will be surrounded by song titles the class has learned to sing. Important features, such as the area covered by the dust bowl, rivers and states will be shaded in and labeled.
Let your students experience joy and patience in creating a long term resource, adding states and songs as the weeks of your unit on Woody Guthrie's life and times unfolds. This can be used as an ongoing activity and an addition to the students' portfolios.
Use a blank map of the states copied onto strong paper that will withstand lots of handling.
Students may wish to glue the map onto construction paper to give it more body. Prepare materials for teaching scale on a map so students will be able to compute distances traveled while driving on Route 66. These will include yarn or string and rulers. Chubby colored felt tip pens will be used as well as thin line black ink pens (Pilot brand pens are great for maps).
Depending on the developmental age of your students, teach the concept of scale using unconventional measuring materials like yarn or string to track the distance across sections of Route 66. Or with students that are ready for more abstract concepts, jump directly into using rulers to see how much distance was covered using the scale on your map. Play with the concept of scale, posing questions like, "How far is it from Amarillo, Texas to Winslow, Arizona? Is that too much to drive in one day? What is the total distance covered from the beginning of your trip in Oklahoma City to Winslow?"
Students can compose their own word problems in a math journal and work on them with a partner, or trade them with another student.
In addition to using the map to teach scale, use it while reading literature that relates to this unit. For example, while reading This Land is Your Land by Kathy Jakobsen, label the "Redwood Forest" and "the Gulf Stream water" on the map. While doing a class read-aloud with sections of Elizabeth Partridge's This Land Was Made For You and Me: The Life and Songs of Woody Guthrie, label Woody's birthplace and the places he lived. As much as possible, make authentic connections among the literature, geography and math so this map becomes a companion to the students during this unit. (See Literature Circles)
Everytime you learn a new Woody Guthrie song, write the title on the map near the area where it makes the most sense. After some time, the children will come to treasure their maps as a portfolio of places, songs and stories.
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