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Schools From the Past to Now

Lesson Plan Item

General Information
Grade 1st Grade Class Social Studies Length of Lesson 40 Minutes
Lesson Title Schools From the Past to Now
Unit Title Schools Long Ago
Unit Compelling Question Are all schools the same?
Historical Context:

The first schools were in private homes.  After the American Revolution Thomas Jefferson argued that there needed to be a higher importance placed on education in America.  Soon schools began to be established in the communities, typically a one room school house with a female teacher who taught many age levels at one time. 

Horace Mann was an advocate for free public education for every child.  Free education began in the United States with an elementary school education. Many elementary schools were segregated, but in 1954 the United States Supreme Court said that all schools should be equal and open to all races. Now students are able to attend a free public school and receive an equal education.   


~Allyson Simpson, Simpson College


2018.036.004  During the late 1800s, writing slates like this one were used in schoolhouses in Iowa and around the world. The slates were typically placed inside a wooden frame; however, they could also be bound together in a "slate book," as this one is. Students used a pencil made of slate, which is a type of rock, to write on the slates. The slates were also easy to clean using a cloth or sponge. By the 1930s, materials such as paper began replacing slates as the primary writing material used in schools.

2018.051.021  This large building was the first public school constructed in Garner, Iowa. From 1894 to 1914 this building housed all of Garner's K-12 students. The building was eventually replaced due to overcrowding and was torn down in 1967.

~ Matthew Miller, Teaching Iowa History Team
Lesson Supporting Question What were schools like long ago?
Lesson Overview

Children will take a look at how the schools from long ago have changed over the years. They will observe a variety of materials, and resources that show that schools once looked like. We will compare how schools are still similar as well as different by looking at primary documents with the skills of thinking like a historian. 

Primary Sources Used
Resources Needed
Lesson Target
  • Student will source a photograph to make reasonable and valid statements or to ask questions. This will be measured by anecdotal notes but as well as the students writing of their observations and questions.
  • Students will be able to compare and contract school buildings and routines from long ago to current time by completing a venn diagram comparing and contrasting the two with 100% accuracy.
  • Students will be able to create a picture of what schools may look like in the future using all the information they have gained from the lesson by drawing and labeling a picture with 100% accuracy.
Lesson Themes No themes are assigned for this lesson.
Lesson Procedure
Step Procedure Time Differentiation plan / Additional Information
Bell Ringer

Show students the Eureka Schoolhouse photo. Share with them a small excerpt of what the Eureka schoolhouse was like. 
Have the students journal about a story that is possibly happening in this photo. 

Give student 3 minutes to write in their journal and then in their table groups have them share out what they wrote down. 
3 Min If students don’t have writing skills yet due to physical difficulties or development they will be able to draw, speak to an aid, or partner on what they’re thinking. I don’t want kids just sitting during this time, this is where they are brainstorming and starting their thinking for this lesson and I want them to feel engaged. 

Student are now going to regroup back into the front of the classroom. They will all be sitting at their assigned table seats. 
On the board I will be displaying a picture of a one room schoolhouse. 
Briefly talk to them about what a historian is and that when they look at these pictures today that they want to think just like them. 
I will have the student observe the picture for a few minutes and then talk with their table partners about what they are noticing. What are the kids wearing? What does the building look like? What colors are there? What is something that sticks out them? 

We will come together as a class and make a list on the board of what they are observing. 
3 Min 

For some kids that don’t know what to say about the photo, I will prompt them and scaffold them into some questions that might get their thinking started. 

What does the building look like?
What is happening around the building? 
What does the door look like?

Some kids might not need prompts while others are going to need very specific ones.  

The students will now watch a video that is about one room schoolhouse in America. 
Take the time now to sit down and talk about the video. What were things that really stood out to the students? What did you learn? What is something that surprised you? 
The students will then have the opportunity to draw a picture of what a one room school house looked like and then what a school looks like today. After drawing them they will have the opportunity to mark the similarities and differences. 

They can choose to draw the outside of the buildings or the inside of the buildings, but make sure they have labels.. 
10 Min Again, if they are physically capable of drawing or writing there is always the option of talking with a peer, adult, or aid. Something else to incorporate is pictures/images/symbols of things that they can use to show what they’re thinking. We can take different colored paper and cut out the shapes and have the students arrange them in which a way that makes sense. There is also an option to show what they are feeling or learning based on their multiple intelligences. Weather they like to write, draw, sing, be active, etc… Another way we can differentiate is their readiness ability. They can always talk with someone on what they would do. 
Transition Have one person pick up all of the drawings that they have created and then meet me on the carpet in their spots.  2 Min  

We will now be reading the book A One Room School by Bobbie Kalman to the whole class. We will be focusing on what is going on in the school house. We will learn about the routines, games, jokes, and punishments. We have talked about what schools looked like from the outside but now we’re digging deeper into what happens inside the school. 

Show them the picture of the slate now.. 
5 Min During this time make sure that the students who need to be close to the picture or heavily rely on the picture are up in the front of the room. Give all students the opportunity to volunteer to answer a question or give a statement. If a child can’t sit on the rug because they get to fidgety or physical complications they are able to pull a chair up or sit where they feel most comfortable. 

As a class we will talk about what a venn diagram looks like and how they are used. 
I will now have students in a venn diagram draw or write the things that are different from schools then to now inside of the one room schoolhouse. 

I want them to work a by themselves for the first 3-5 minutes and then they will be able to collaborate with their peers. 
7 Min For the more advanced kids challenge them to have 8-10 things in their venn diagram, and then differentiate for the kids who aren’t as advanced. If they can’t write they can always use pictures or talk with someone who can help them write it out. 
Transition Coming back as a class as I walked around during that activity I will have picked up 2 or 3 kids work so I can project it for the class.  5 Min  
Closure Now that we have talked about schools from the past and how they are similar and different than schools now. The kids will be able to create their own one room schoolhouse with a variety of materials. They will also create themselves out of materials to either place within the school or outside of it. 5 Min

Since they will be creating their own examples of a one room schoolhouse they will have a variety or materials and resources to use. They can look off of the primary documents to help them. Depending on readiness they can make it as detailed and precious as they wish. 

Formative Assessment
(How will you use the formative assessments to monitor and inform instruction?)
  • ● I will access my student based upon their worksheets that they completes comparing schools from long ago, today, and then their idea of the future. ● All throughout the lesson I will be keeping anecdotal notes of the students responses, questions, and work time. I will watching to see if they are staying on task and whether or not they are understanding the content of the lesson. ● This lesson is the very first in this unit of schools long ago. We are starting with the basic idea of the school house and a little about their routine, punishments, and fun that goes along with it. I will use my notes and findings from today to shape my future lessons in this unit.
Summative Assessment
(How does the lesson connect to planned summative assessment(s)?)
  • We will be having an end of the unit exam about schools long ago and how they have changed, so it’s important that this information is getting taught and mastered to allow for all students to succeed on the unit test.
Author Information
Author Allyson Simpson Reviewer Dr. Chad Timm, Simpson College Created 08/16/2019 Last Edited 09/06/2019
Lesson Plan Development Notes: Social Studies Methods, Simpson College, Spring 2019

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