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Reading the Middle Atlantic - Published Version
Content Topic:
Regional geography; learning about the notable aspects of U.S. States
Students will learn to search the library catalog using keywords, subject, title, and author searches. Using their knowledge of searching, they will locate and read books about or taking place in each of the Mid-Atlantic States. Upon reading a book associated with each state, students will locate the state on a map of the Middle Atlantic States and draw a representative symbol or picture on their map.
Total Estimated Time:
2.5 hours
Suggested Number Of Sessions:
  • Map of New York and United States
  • ”Dewey Finder” bookmarks—enough for each student and extras
  • Middle Atlantic map handouts—enough for each student and extras
  • Big map of United States for reference
  • The Erie Canal book by Peter Spier, Herons Bend Productions, Publisher
  • Computer, projector, and screen
  • White board or flip board for writing down brainstormed ideas & markers
Instruction / Activities:

Day 1

Direct Instruction:

  • Students will gather in the library and will be told that a mystery guest will be arriving shortly to introduce the lesson.


  • Meanwhile, TL will read “The Erie Canal” to students, showing them illustrations that coincide with the old canal song.


Modeling and guided practice:

  • Enter music teacher with guitar to teach class the Erie Canal song (“I had an old mule and her name was Sal...”).  Students will learn and sing along.


Sharing and Reflecting:

  • Students, after thanking the musical guest, will be asked how they might find a book like The Erie Canal in the library and will brainstorm ideas.  Students will also brainstorm why it is important to be able to find books in the library, how that skill will help them in the future, and why they might want to find information about their state and the states nearby.


Day 2

Direct Instruction

  • Students will tour the fiction and non-fiction areas of the library. 
  • TL explains how books are arranged by the Dewey Decimal system. 
  • Students will be provided with a bookmark that provides written/pictorial guidance to finding books in the library.


Modeling and guided practice

  • Students will be shown basic search methods using the library catalog, including author, subject, and title searches on a projected computer screen.  The TL will model the various searches and finding the physical book in the library several times.


  • Students will receive their own personal maps of the Middle Atlantic States.  A full United States map will be shown on the projected computer screen, and students will volunteer to find and point out the Mid-Atlantic States on the larger map.                     (See SM1_ReadingMidAtlantic)


  • Classroom teacher and TL will explain to students that they will be finding and reading a book about each state over the course of the next week.  Once they have read a book about each particular state, they will write down the title and author of their book (with assistance, if needed) and draw a representative symbol or picture within the corresponding state on their maps. (See SM2_ReadingMidAtlantic)


  • Classroom teacher and TL will answer any questions that students have regarding finding books, finding states, or about the general project.


Independent practice

  • In pairs, students will work to use the library catalog computers to search for books about the Middle Atlantic States and gather books in the library with the help of their teachers.


Day 3

Independent practice

  • Throughout the following week during Social Studies/Geography block, students will have time for free reading in the library, finding additional books, and working on their map symbols.


  • Once maps have been completed, they will be displayed in the library, students will have a celebratory gallery walk to find their map and see their classmates' work.


Sharing and reflecting

  • Students, classroom teacher, and TL will gather once more to find and identify the Middle Atlantic States on a full U. S. map and will share other big ideas they discovered during the lesson.
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Presented By: Melissa Porter
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