Exploring Cross-Age Tutoring Activities With Lewis and Clark
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In this lesson, cross-age tutoring gives high school students the opportunity to guide elementary students (in grades 3 to 5) to a deeper understanding of the adventures of Lewis and Clark. Students use the book How We Crossed the West by Rosalyn Schanzer, along with interactive activities and websites, to explore the events of this expedition. Social interaction enhances critical thinking and literacy skills as students collaborate to create adventure stories based on the expedition of Lewis and Clark. The lesson culminates in a festival in which elementary students share their adventure stories with the high school tutors.
From Theory to Practice
- Cross-age tutoring provides opportunities for older students, working under a teacher's guidance, to help younger students practice skills and concepts.
- Planning instruction for others enhances long-term retention and comprehension of texts.
- Cross-age tutoring promotes critical thinking skills through collaborative interaction.
Common Core Standards
This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.
This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.
NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts
- 3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
- 8. Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.
- 11. Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.
Materials and Technology
- Response journals for elementary students
- Student-created time machine (optional)
- Who Was Sacagawea? by Fradin, D.B., Fradin, J.B. & Taylor, V.P. (2003). New York: Grosset & Dunlap.
- The Lewis and Clark Expedition: Join the Corps of Discovery to Explore Uncharted Territory by Johmann, C.A. (2003). Charlotte, VT: Williamson Publishing.
- How We Crossed the West: The Adventures of Lewis & Clark by Schanzer, R. (1997). Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society.
Preparing High School Students for Cross-Age Tutoring
|1.||Introduction to cross-age tutoring. Match high school students in an English or history class with a class of elementary students in grades 3-5. Introduce the concept of cross-age tutoring and discuss ways for high school students to build positive relationships that will encourage elementary students to develop their literacy skills.
|2.||Training sessions for high school tutors. Model the teaching procedures for high school tutors. The tutors will use the same introductory procedure during four sessions to help elementary students master reading strategies. Students will (1) activate prior knowledge, (2) discuss key vocabulary words, and (3) encourage students to make predictions about the text How We Crossed the West before reading.
|3.||Establishing a learning community. Engage high school students in a discussion of ways they can encourage elementary students and build a positive community atmosphere. As students discuss the building blocks of a community, have them examine ways that Lewis and Clark established a community when they led the Corps of Discovery and began their journey. Ideas may be used from the lesson plan The Corps of Discovery as a Community .
|4.||Community meetings. The community meetings will serve as forums in which both high school and elementary students come together to set the stage for an upcoming session and review what was learned in past sessions.
|5.||Creating a "time machine." Help high school students create a "time machine" for use during the community meetings. A "time machine" with knobs and dials can be designed using a large cardboard box. The "time machine" is optional for this lesson plan; high school tutors can also dramatize an imaginary "time machine."
|6.||Dramatizing the Corps of Discovery. During each community meeting, a high school student will act out the part of a member of the Corps of Discovery (i.e., Meriwether Lewis, William Clark, York, and Sacagawea). High school tutors who portray these characters will share background information about the character and spark interest for a discussion about the event. The website Corps of Discovery Profiles, designed by the National Park Service, provides profiles for specific members of the Lewis and Clark expedition. Another beneficial resource to use when preparing for these presentations is The Lewis and Clark Expedition: Join the Corps of Discovery to Explore Uncharted Territory by Carol A. Johmann.
- Use interactive strategies to comprehend and analyze texts
- Use print and online resources to increase understanding of the expedition of Lewis and Clark
- Engage in critical discussions of shared readings
- Record new discoveries and respond to shared readings in their response journals
- Create stories about the adventures of Lewis and Clark in connection with shared readings
- Share stories about the expedition of Lewis and Clark in a literacy community
Session 1: Preparing for the Journey
During this initial community meeting, discuss the cross-age tutorial project with elementary and high school students. Ask questions to activate elementary students' prior knowledge and discern their familiarity with the journey of Lewis and Clark.
Turning a knob on the "time machine," invite the high school tutor playing the role of Meriwether Lewis to begin his presentation. Have the student acting as Lewis introduce himself and talk about his adventures with the Corps of Discovery. Details of this presentation might include events from his childhood in Virginia, his age, his relationship with President Jefferson, and his friendship with William Clark.
|1.||Following the teaching procedures modeled during the training sessions, high school tutors introduce the book, How We Crossed the West by Rosalyn Schanzer. They activate prior knowledge by discussing any trips the elementary students have taken in the past, and ask questions to determine the students' familiarity with the journey of Lewis and Clark. Vocabulary study during this session focuses on matching the names of key members of the expedition with their pictures and information in the book. Tutors should encourage students to make predictions about the reading by engaging in a picture walk through the first section of the book.
|2.||Tutors begin reading the book How We Crossed the West, alternating pages with the elementary students. As they read about Lewis and Clark's preparations for the journey and the selection of the Corps of Discovery, they should together discuss and analyze what they read.
|3.||After reading and discussing the text, elementary students should record their discoveries about the expedition in their response journals.
|4.||Tutors access the website Lewis and Clark Maps to show the elementary students a map of the journey of Lewis and Clark.
|5.||Tutors use the News Reporting Sheet to ask key questions about this portion of the book and assist the elementary students as needed with the answers.
Session 2: Beginning the Journey
Turn the knobs on the "time machine" and invite William Clark to visit the class. The high school student portraying Clark introduces himself and explains his background. Details of his presentation might include his age, the place of his birth, and his friendship with Meriwether Lewis.
Lead the class in a brief discussion about Clark's role in the expedition.
|1.||Before reading, tutors should activate the elementary students' prior knowledge, discuss key vocabulary words, and encourage the students to make predictions by picture walking through the next portion of the book.
|2.||Tutors continue reading How We Crossed the West, alternating pages with the elementary students. In this section, they read about the beginning of the journey, wildlife of the plains, and interactions with Native Americans. Have students discuss and analyze what they read.
|3.||Tutors and elementary students work together using the online interactive Timeline to create timelines of the journey using dates and information from the book and their own analysis of the events.
|4.||Using information from the timeline activity, elementary students can record any new discoveries from the discussion and activity in their response journals.
Session 3: Adventures on the Journey
Turn the knobs on the "time machine" and invite York to emerge. The student acting as York introduces himself as a member of the Corps of Discovery and describes his background. His presentation might focus on his relationship with William Clark and his interactions with the Indians.
Review information about York's background and lead a discussion about his role in the expedition.
|1.||Before reading, tutors activate the elementary students' prior knowledge, discuss key vocabulary words, and encourage the students to make predictions by picture walking through the next portion of the book.
|2.||Tutors continue reading How We Crossed the West, alternating pages with the elementary students. In this section, they read about the meeting with the Shoshoni Tribe. Have students discuss and analyze what they read together.
|3.||Each tutor-student pair works together to compare and contrast the characteristics of two members of the Corps of Discovery using the interactive Venn diagram. Additional information about members of the Corps of Discovery is available on the Corps of Discovery Profiles website.
|4.||Elementary students use their completed Venn diagrams to write journal entries about the two selected members of the Corps of Discovery.
Session 4: Reaching the Goal
Turn the knobs on the "time machine" and invite Sacagawea to visit the class. The high school student portraying Sacagawea introduces herself, describes her background, and talks about her first encounter with Lewis and Clark. The text Who Was Sacagawea? provides helpful information for the presentation about Sacagawea.
After the presentation, engage the whole group in a review of what they have learned about the Lewis and Clark expedition.
|1.||Before reading, tutors activate the elementary students' prior knowledge, discuss key vocabulary words, and encourage the students to make predictions by picture walking through the next section of the book. This section describes the adventures of Lewis and Clark as they cross the Bitterroot Mountains and reach the Pacific Ocean.
|2.||Tutors continue reading How We Crossed the West, alternating pages with the elementary students. They discuss and analyze this segment of the journey, imagining the explorers' response to reaching the Pacific Ocean, their final goal.
|3.||Tutors and elementary students can then explore the activities on Go West Across America with Lewis & Clark, a National Geographic website.
|4.||Tutors then help elementary students write about their favorite adventure during the Lewis and Clark journey. The adventures can be recorded in the students' response journals.
|5.||Have elementary students brainstorm ideas for their own adventure stories, based on How We Crossed the West, to share during the next session.
Session 5: Celebrating Success
Explain plans to combine the classes for a sharing session in which elementary students share their own adventure stories with the high school tutors.
|1.||Tutors review How We Crossed the West with students and help them to create their own adventure stories to share with the class. Students may want to review their response journals and base their own adventure stories on their favorite adventure from the Lewis and Clark expedition. Encourage elementary students to pretend they are members of the Corps of Discovery and write about events that actually took place. Be sure to emphasize historical accuracy in their writing.
|2.||Have students develop their stories using the interactive Story Map. This online graphic organizer is a beneficial prewriting tool, which will help students develop the characters, setting, conflict, and resolution for their own stories. After stories are completed, have tutors and elementary students proofread them for historical accuracy, clarity, and readability.
Host a festival in which high school tutors and elementary students enjoy refreshments as they celebrate their cross-tutoring success and share their adventure stories.
- The activities in Session 5 can be spread across two days to allow more time for story development and process writing.
- This lesson can be conducted with high school freshmen and seniors if an elementary school is not nearby or readily accessible.
- The activities in this lesson can also be conducted using similar books, such as Lewis and Clark: Explorers of the American West (Holiday House, 1996), or another historical event.
- If time allows, the festival can be expanded to include ideas from the online lesson plan, Putting It All Together: A Lewis and Clark Festival.
- The Lewis & Clark Expedition: Join the Corps of Discovery to Explore Uncharted Territory provides excellent material for research and a wide variety of extension activities. For instance, students may want to make bullboats or design Mandan lodges similar to the ones Lewis and Clark saw during their expedition.
Student Assessment / Reflections
- Teacher observation and anecdotal notes based on class discussions and cross-age tutoring sessions
- Student journals, indicating reading comprehension levels and analysis of the shared readings
- Student responses on the News Reporting Sheet
- Student responses on the interactive Timeline, Venn diagram, and Story Map
- Student's adventure story, incorporating historical details from the Lewis and Clark expedition in a creative manner