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U.S. Geography: The SouthUS-Geography-The-South

  • Subject: Geography
  • |
  • Grade(s): K-5
  • |
  • Duration: Two to three class periods

Lesson Plan Sections

Objectives


Students will
  • learn about the South and its many geographic features;
  • find and use media sources to research information on a specific physical feature of the South; and
  • present information about the South's physical feature in a well-organized and well-researched oral report.

Materials


  • Paper, pencils, and colored markers or crayons
  • Posterboard
  • Encyclopedias, atlases, and other library resources
  • Computer with Internet access (optional)
  • U.S. Geography: The South video and VCR

Procedures

  1. Begin the lesson by reviewing the U.S. Geography: The South video. Ask students: What physical features does the program talk about? Make a class list of specific physical features that are found in the South.
     
  2. Compare the following physical features, all found in the South, and have students note their differences and similarities:

     

    • Mississippi River
    • Chesapeake Bay
    • Florida Everglades
    • southern Appalachian Mountains (Blue Ridge and Great Smoky mountains)
    • South Carolina's Sea Islands

     

  3. Briefly discuss the economy, culture, and geography of these Southern features. Help students become familiar with the terms estuary , tributary , delta , and wetland and their association with any of the five physical features being discussed. Review the terms weather and climate , and then discuss the South's general weather and climate with students.
     
  4. Divide the class into groups, and assign each one of the five physical features to research. Tell the groups to prepare an oral presentation for the class about their assigned feature. Each presentation should be a minimum of five minutes in length, maximum of 10 minutes. The presentations also should include the following aspects of each physical feature:

     

    • General overview of the feature, including its location and geographic definition
    • Physical map of the area
    • A visual aid
    • Weather and climate of the area
    • Environment, including types of animals and vegetation found in and around the area
    • Economy
    • Culture
    • Current environmental, cultural, or economic issues

     

  5. Give students time in class and as a homework assignment to research their topics and prepare their oral reports. Then have each group present its information to the class. Students may use encyclopedias, atlases, and library and Internet resources to conduct their research. The Web sites listed below have information on each of the five physical features being researched.

    Everglades
    http://www.nps.gov/ever/
    http://www.florida-everglades.com

    Mississippi River
    http://www.mississippiriverinfo.com
    http://www.greatriver.com

    Chesapeake Bay
    http://www.acb-online.org
    http://www.chesapeakebay.net
    http://chesapeake.usgs.gov/overview.html

    South Carolina Sea Islands
    http://www.islandpacket.com/man/gullah/index.html
    http://www.discoversouthcarolina.com/scfacts/climate.asp

    Appalachian Mountains (Blue Ridge and Great Smoky mountains)
    http://vulcan.wr.usgs.gov/LivingWith/VolcanicPast/Places/
    volcanic_past_appalachians.html

    http://www.themoonlitroad.com/members/archives/mother/mother_cbg002.html
    http://www.us-parks.com/US_National_Parks/great_smoky/great_smoky.shtml

  6. Allow time for students to ask questions of their peers following each presentation. Once all presentations have been given, have students discuss what they learned about the South's physical features.

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Evaluation


Use the following three-point rubric to evaluate students' work during this lesson.
  • Three points: Students actively participated in class discussions and their group's oral presentation; worked cooperatively in research groups; oral presentation met time requirements and all eight criteria; delivered a well-organized, informative presentation; attentively listened to other presentations.
  • Two points: Students somewhat participated in class discussions and their group's oral presentation; worked somewhat cooperatively in research groups; oral presentation met time requirements and five criteria; delivered an informative presentation; somewhat listened to other presentations.
  • One point: Students worked somewhat cooperatively in research groups; oral presentation met three or less criteria; delivered a disorganized or incomprehensive presentation; somewhat listened to other presentations.

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Vocabulary


estuary
Definition: An area where freshwater and saltwater mix at the mouth of a river
Context: The Chesapeake Bay is North America's largest estuary and the third largest in the world.

tributary
Definition: A smaller river that flow into a larger river
Context: The Mississippi River's tributaries are important for transporting food, equipment, and people, and they all provide water that creates the great power of the Mississippi.

wetland
Definition: Areas of land, such as tidal areas or swamps, where much of the soil is covered with water
Context: The Chesapeake Bay in Maryland has one of the largest wetland areas in the country.

delta
Definition: A large, triangular shape of land at the mouth of a river
Context: The marshes of the Mississippi Delta are some of the richest and most densely populated wildlife regions in North America.

weather
Definition: A description of the atmosphere's temperature, humidity, wind, and pressure on a daily basis
Context: The South's warmer weather and high rainfall each year create perfect conditions for farming.

climate
Definition: The measure of average weather patterns over a period of many years
Context: The South has a moderate climate, with hot summers and cold winters.

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Standards


The National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) has developed national standards to provide guidelines for teaching social studies. To become a member of the NCSS, or to view the standards online, go tohttp://www.socialstudies.org.
 
This lesson plan addresses the following standards:
  • Culture
  • People, Places, and Environments
  • Production, Distribution, and Consumption
  • Global Connections

The National Council for Geographic Education (NCGE) provides 18 national geography standards that the geographically informed person knows and understands. To view the standards online, go tohttp://www.ncge.org.

This lesson plan addresses the following standards:
  • Places and Regions
  • Physical Systems
  • Environment and Society

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Credits


Tamar Burris, freelance education writer and former elementary teacher

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