I think I have found a way!
This week, my instructional coach and I have been working with my Grade 6 students on a measurement task in math, using large maps of Ontario, to estimate and then calculate a reasonable endpoint (given a starting point) after 36 days of walking/jogging. (Yes, we watched the "run, Forrest, run!" clip from Forrest Gump -- after all, why not throw in a little mini-lesson on bullying on the side?!!)
First, students worked in groups of three, using various maps of Ontario on which I had highlighted a random starting point. They used rulers, calculators, the scale on the map, trundle wheels, background knowledge (their Fall Classic experience and our recent trip to Toronto, etc.), math dictionaries and any other tools they wanted to work through the problem.
As they worked, we used a google form to document observations and feedback, based on the criteria we had set for the task.
As they worked together on this task, discussing what distance would be reasonable to walk, and how many hours a day they could reasonably sustain their speed, I realised that in fact this was the perfect preamble to another task, one about the Syrian crisis, and about the plight of refugees in general.
Having built this mapping and measurement schema with my students, my instructional coach and I are now preparing an extension activity to build and further develop students' understanding: After watching a short video clip about the "average" journey a Syrian family makes across Europe before coming to Canada, students will find and use maps to research the distance and time it might take to make such a journey.
I am hopeful that having a practical understanding of what's involved will not only develop my students' math and literacy skills, but will also increase their empathy and give them a better understanding of the challenges faced by many in today's world.
Stay tuned for part 2 of this blog post in the weeks ahead!!
Special shout out to my colleagues Emond and Freeman for their contributions to the lesson outline and the KNOWS graphic organizer, both linked above -- thanks for sharing!!