Yep, it’s as touchy-feely as it sounds!  We are about a week into our second unit of the year and the kids are just starting their own writing for this unit study.  In this unit we explore the five themes of geography through narrative poetry. The five themes of geography are:

  • Location
  • Place
  • Human-Environmental Interaction
  • Movement
  • Region

These five themes are the lenses we will be using throughout the year to examine the world around us.  This unit, we will be focusing on one theme per week and writing narrative poetry to learn a little more about ourselves by exploring the idea of finding the center of our heart’s geography through these lenses.

When launching this unit, the students did a thinking routine to bring out what they are most excited about and most worried about as we move forward with our work.  Overwhelmingly, the students were most excited about exploring the themes of geography through poetry and discover more about themselves in the process.  Have I mentioned what amazing students I get to be with everyday?!  What they were most worried about was not knowing where to start or what it was going to look like in the end.  The term that came up the most in this thinking routine was “mentor text”.  These kids are thinking like writers!!

I am SO excited to work the kids on this writing project to learn more about myself, the kids as people, and the kids as readers and writers.  Here are some links to the basics of what we’re doing together:

Read Aloud: Karma by Cathy Ostlere

Daily read aloud is used to model reading and writing strategies that we are working on in class, as well as help deepen our understanding of the social studies themes we are focusing on.  Here is a synopsis of this unit’s whole class read aloud.  It is a novel written in verse, so it models the type of writing the students are doing as well.


It is 1984, and fifteen-year-old Maya is on her way to India with her father. She carries with her the ashes of her mother, who recently committed suicide, and arrives in Delhi on the eve of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s assassination.

Maya is separated from her father and must rely upon the mysterious, kindhearted Sandeep to safely reunite them. As her love for Sandeep begins to blossom, Maya must face the truth about her painful adolescence…if she’s ever to imagine her future.

Finding the Center of Your Heart’s Geography Narrative Poetry Writing

Over the 6 weeks of the unit, the students will be simultaneously studying the five themes of geography and weaving them into narrative poems they write about the core of who they are (the center of their heart’s geography).  This will look different for different students: some kids will produce 5 individual poems that each tell a story, some will write multiple poems that tell a story together, and others will write just one poem that does it all!  I will be working with the kids whole class, in small groups, and individually to help them take steps forward in their execution of narrative and poetry writing, use of mentor texts, and understanding of our geographical themes.

Socratic Seminars

Each week, we will be using socratic seminars to help us dig deeper into our studies this unit.  The students will not be summatively assessed on their participation in the socratic seminars this unit, but they will be next unit–so this is a good way for us all to get some practice and understanding of what a socratic seminar looks and feels like in this classroom.

Independent Reading and Writing

As always, the students will have protected time each day for independent reading or writing.  They are expected to read each night for at least 30 minutes.  They are expected to produce 3 digital or 5 handwritten pages of writing each week.  Their next publishing date for their independent writing is on October 13th.