Grade: 3-5
Subject: Literature

#4316. Walls That Tell a Story

Literature, level: 3-5
Posted Tue Dec 16 18:31:47 PST 2008 by Donna Hennessy (Donna Hennessy).
Denville, USA
Materials Required: (see attached)
Activity Time: 4 lesson 60 minutes each
Concepts Taught: Thematic Unit: If walls could talk what would they say?

Walls That Tell a Story
I. Table of Contents

II. Curriculum Web of Activities . . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . ..Page 2

III. Narrative Rationale. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .Page 3

IV. Timeline for Implementation of Lessons. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .Page 6

V. Unit Materials and Resources. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . ....Page 7

VI. Lesson Plans:
Lesson Plan 1 -- Mapping Walls (Math). . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . ..Page 8

Lesson Plan 2 -- Building the Biggest Walls (Science). . .. . .. . .. . .....Page 11

Lesson Plan 3 -- Virtual Exploration of Lascaux Cave (Tech.). . ....Page 13

Lesson Plan 4 -- Breaking Down Walls (Language Arts) . . .. . .. . .....Page 15

VII. Unit Comprehensive Assessment . . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . ...Page 18

VIII. Culminating Activity-Field Trip. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .. . .....Page 20

Walls That Tell a Story
II. Curriculum Web of Activities Related to "Talking Walls"

The following curriculum web was created using PrintShop Software. This web provides a visual representation of the activities planned for the thematic unit Walls That Tell a Story based on the book "Talking Walls" by Margy Burns Knight. The essential question that is being answered throughout the unit is "If walls could talk, what would they say?" For each of the nine subject areas, there are at least three lessons, and each contains at least one auditory, kinesthetic, and visual lesson.

A= Auditory Lesson
K=Kinesthetic Lesson
V=Visual Lesson

Walls That Tell a Story

III. Narrative Rationale

This unit entitled Walls That Tell a Story is created for a fifth grade class. By examining walls presented in the beautifully written and illustrated book entitled "Talking Walls" by Margy Burns Knight and Anne Sibley O'Brian, students will be introduced to new cultures and experiences. Ms. Knight highlights walls such as The Great Wall of China, The City of the Sun in Peru, and The Lascaux Cave in France. She shows us how some of these walls, like the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial, bring families together for a common purpose. Other walls such as the Berlin Wall create conflict within their borders. To help students learn about the walls themselves, the materials used to construct them, the people who toiled to build them, and the purpose they serve, the essential question that arose in this unit is "If walls could talk what would they say?"
The four lesson plans included in this unit cover the NJ Core Curriculum Standards for Language Arts, Math, Science and Technology. In addition, there are 24 more lessons that are included on the curriculum web, covering all nine of the subject areas of the standards. Each of the subject areas have a least three lessons, with at least one lesson designed for visual learners, auditory learners and kinesthetic learners. Also, spread throughout the lessons on the web are ways to help children who are strong in other intelligences described in Howard Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences. These include linguistic (words), logical (mathematical), spatial (visual), musical, interpersonal (people-smart), intrapersonal (self-smart), kinesthetic (body) and naturalistic (of nature). Children will find these lessons developmentally appropriate as they are based on the NJCCCS for fifth grade, as well as having adaptations for children requiring special needs.
This thematic unit will help children think critically by having them perform tasks on the highest level of Blooms Taxonomy such as: Create walls of their own, formulate the best route to take to visit one of these walls, write a narrative on the "walls" in their own lives, and develop a brochure of one of the walls the student would like to visit.
Personally I chose this book because I feel it gives teachers a way to let their class explore the magnificent walls that exist all over the world and the stories behind these walls. I was especially intrigued with this book when I read about Lascaux Cave in France and how four young boys stumbled upon it while searching for their dog in the woods. The wall paintings in this cave were done more than 17,000 years ago, yet these boys literally stumbled upon it! Incredible! Another aspect of this book I liked was that it was easy to provide differentiated instruction for these lessons, because based upon the child's interest or ability they could delve much deeper into researching information about the cave or wall we are focusing on.
Another important aspect of this theme is that since it covers so many different cultures in so many parts of the world, a student is bound to make a connection to one of the cultures we will be focusing on. If a student for example has family living in Peru, the student could talk to them or write to them about the City of the Sun to see if they have ever seen it, or if they could send us a picture or postcard of it. In this way, these walls will become more real and relevant to the students. Also, by asking children if they know of any great walls that were not mentioned in the book "Talking Walls", a teacher will be providing ways to bring in their point of view. This is what Brooks and Thompson explains needs to happen in a classroom that honors the "whole child and every child" (Brooks, J. G., Thompson, E. G., 2005).
The culminating activity to wrap up this unit would be a visit to the "Traveling Wall"; a compact version of the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial Wall in Washington, DC. The wall travels all over the United States and teachers can request the wall be brought to a certain location. This field trip will accomplish several things. First, prior to the field trip, the students will be given the name and background information of a soldier whose name appears on the wall. This helps them to see that this wall honors real people, some who aren't much different from them. Next, by experiencing the wall first hand, they can see the way the wall was constructed, examine the material used to build it, and most importantly, see the impact it has on the people that visit it. As the students try to find the name of their assigned soldier, they can feel the effect of how this wall brings people together for a common cause.
Once this thematic unit is complete, it is my hope that the children would be able to recognize all of the walls mentioned in the book and be able to describe the story it tells about the people who built it, how it was discovered, its original purpose and how it is used today. If these walls could talk what would they say? I would like children to realize that some walls would tell us about the social injustice that surrounded them (Berlin Wall), others would be proud of its intricate sculptures (Mahabalipuram's Animal Walls), still others would talk about the millions of prayers they've heard (The Western Wall). If children are prepared to discuss the similarities and differences of the cultures explored and be able to take a stand for or against the barriers some of these walls create, this would be a "towering" accomplishment and a successful unit!

Walls That Tell a Story
IV. Suggested Timeline for Implementation

Walls That Tell a Story
V. Resources & Materials

Printed Materials --
• The book "Talking Walls" by Margy Burns Knight
• Web quest questionnaires for each child
• Checklist for group objectives in the lesson plan "Building the Biggest Walls"
• Miniature cutouts of the following walls -
• Laminated pictures of the following walls:
o The Great Wall of China
o Aborigine Wall Art
o The Lascaux Cave
o Western Wall
o Mahabalipuram's Animal Walls
o Muslim Walls
o Great Zimbabwe
o The City of The Sun in Peru
o The Taos Pueblo
o Mexican Murals
o The Canadian Museum of Civilization
o The Vietnam Veterans Memorial
o Nelson Mandela's Prison Walls
o The Berlin Wall
Computer Materials/Internet Access --
• Access to the computer lab
• Web quest site programmed in the favorites keys:
Community Resources --
• Schedule of "The Moving Wall" to plan our field trip to the replica of the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial
• Access to buses for the field trip

Miscellaneous Materials --
• Construction paper
• A large appliance box (TV or refrigerator)
• Straws
• Tape dispensers
• Rulers
• Giant world map (that can be layed on the floor)
• Calculators
• Pencils
• Tackey

Walls That Tell a Story
VI. Lesson Plan #1 - Mapping "Walls"

Lesson Rationale & Context
Students have read the book "Talking Walls" and have created a huge world map so that we could map where these walls exist. In this lesson, children will examine the location of the various walls, estimate the number of miles away the wall is (from our school) and figure out how many miles they would have to travel to get to these walls.

Objectives --
1) SWBAT identify pictures of the walls we discussed in the book "Talking Walls".
2) SWBAT locate where the wall goes on a map.
3) SWBAT calculate the number of miles it would take to get there using the map and a ruler.

4.2.5.D.2- Math-Units of Measure --Convert measurement units within a system.
4.1.5.C.-Math-Estimation-Use a variety of estimation strategies for both number and computation.

Materials --
For Students For Teachers
Miniature cutout pictures of the walls Book "Talking Walls"
Rulers (1 per child) Tackey
Giant Map (on floor)
Calculators (1 per group of 4)
Pencil (1 per child)

Anticipatory Set
Start with Knock Knock Joke: Knock Knock. Who's there? Andrew. Andrew who? Andrew all over the wall.

1) Today we are going to estimate and then calculate the distance we'd need to travel to get to the various walls described in the book "Talking Walls" and chart the information on the giant map we made in our classroom.

Main Activity --
Demonstration --
1) Using the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, DC, the teacher will demonstrate the activity.
2) Teacher will decide where on the map this wall should go, take the small picture of it, and place it on the map.
3) The teacher will model some estimation skills out loud to the class. "I know that it takes me about 5 hours to drive there by car. I usually drive about 65 miles per hour, so I would estimate that it's about 325 miles away from our school.
4) Using a ruler, the teacher would then measure the distance from our school to the Vietnam Memorial Wall using a ruler. The teacher will calculate the number of inches and then convert this number into miles to see how close she was in her estimation. She will then write that number on the picture on the map.

Guided Practice --
1) Teacher then asks them to think about the next wall, The Canadian Museum of Civilization. Children should think about a way then can make an estimation of how far this wall is from our school and be ready to support their estimates by revealing their thinking out loud.
2) The teacher will give the students several minutes to think about this, and then ask for a volunteer to discuss their estimation.
3) Once an estimate is made by about 3 different students, students will work with the teacher to measure and calculate the actual number for miles, using the ruler.

Independent Practice -
4) Children will then go back to their groups and work with other group members to estimate and map 3 different walls (each group will be given different walls).

Closure --
5) The teacher will ask each group to stand up one at a time to present the walls they mapped and their distances from our school.

Assessment --
1) The next day, the Teacher will give each child a smaller individual map, along with the pictures of the walls and the modes of transportation. Children will be asked to map 4 of their favorite walls and calculate the miles. This will be checked and graded and put in their portfolio for Parent/Teacher conferences.

Adaptations --
1) Children who have difficulty with math concepts will be paired with a child having strong skills and that could serve as a mentor to the child.
2) For ESL students, since we will be using pictures of the walls, and not just the names of the walls, this may be a little easier for them to comprehend.

Narrative of pitfalls, Solutions & Reflections --
The teacher may need to go over the rules of working in groups prior to starting this lesson. This depends on the students' past learning experiences. Some of them may be accustomed to working in groups while others may not have.

Walls That Tell a Story
VI. Lesson Plan #2 -- Building the Biggest Walls

Lesson Rationale & Context: To help children use their critical thinking skills to build the biggest wall possible using a limited number of items (2 pieces of construction paper, 2 straws, and tape).

Learning Objectives:
1) SWBAT work in groups to build a wall based on the specifications given.
2) SWBAT compare the construction of their wall with the construction of walls built by other groups.
3) SWBAT decide which wall is the tallest and what in its construction enabled them to make it so tall

5.1.5.A.4 Science-Habits of Mind-Know that when solving a problem it is important to plan and get ideas and help from other people.
5.1.5.A.3 Science-Habits of Mind-Recognize that when a science investigation is replicated, very similar results are expected.

Teacher: Checklist for group objectives
Student: 2 pieces of construction paper per group
2 straws per group
1 tape dispenser per group

Lesson Procedure:
Anticipatory Set:
1) Tell children we will be working in groups to see which group can construct the tallest wall.
2) Show them the materials they will be using in order to build their wall.

Independent Practice-
3) Teacher will let the children go immediately to independent practice because this activity is based on the children's own planning and design. Modeling a teacher's creation might lead the children to design it the same way as the teacher.

Guided Practice --
4) Once the students and the teacher have created their walls, they will each get a turn to present them to their class (the teacher will go first). Each group will explain how the wall was designed, if they ran into any problems building it and the solutions they came up with to get around their problems.
5) The children will also measure their walls to see which group built the tallest wall.

Closure -
6) Based on the information the children experienced and saw other groups do, they will each get a turn to explain what they would do differently if they had to build this wall again tomorrow.

Assessment --
Children will be assessed by the actual wall itself. A rubric will be used to help the teacher judge the wall that was built, based on whether it is complete, if it is standing, if it was the tallest, if the children were able to describe what they did in order to build it.

Adaptations -- For ESL children, the teacher could get the words: wall, build, paper, tape, straw in their native language and use them when giving students instructions to help them understand the assignment.

Narrative of Pitfalls, Solutions, & Reflections-
A group may have a problem working together. The teacher should write this information down so that when she is putting together groups in the future, she'll remember not put them together again.

Children may have problems getting their wall to stand. If this is the case, the teacher should have a rubric that considers other criteria, not just whether the wall is standing.

Walls That Tell a Story
VI. Lesson Plan #3 - Virtual Exploration of Lascaux Cave

Lesson Rationale & Context: The children have been learning about various walls from the book "Talking Walls". The book tells us that Lascaux cave in France was discovered by 4 teenagers who were looking for their lost dog in the woods. Through this lesson, children will see there are other ways to research a topic than just through books. One of the ways are through web quests such as this. By viewing this web quest: children will be able to take a virtual tour of Lascaux Cave in France. They will find out how the cave was discovered, look at a map of the cave, and view the murals on the cave walls.

Learning Objectives:
1) SWBAT research Lascaux Cave in France through a web quest.
2) SWBAT see some of the famous mural paintings in the cave and identify them.

8.1.5.B. 5.- Technology-Information Access and Research-Recognize the need for accessing and using information.

Access to the computer lab
Assessment questionnaire
Web quest site programmed on favorites keys for each computer
Access to computer with website:
Questionnaire for children to complete after taking the virtual tour

Lesson Procedure:
Anticipatory Set:
1) Teacher will tell students that they will be going on a virtual tour of Lascaux Cave in France.
2) Tell children they will be able to visit all of the different chambers in the cave and learn about the various paintings within the cave.

Modeling/demonstration -
3) The teacher will show the children how to navigate through the various locations on the web quest.

Independent Practice --
4) Children will be able to work independently on a computer in the computer lab. Students will navigate through the various locations in the cave, writing down important information, and viewing the various murals in the cave.

Closure --
5) Teacher will ask students about what they found on the web quest. Questions like, how was the cave discovered, what does it look like, and why are people no longer allowed to visit the cave?

Assessment -- Student will have to answer a series of fill in the blank questions to determine how much they learned by viewing the web quest. Also, there will be pictures of the various murals, and children will be asked to identify them by name.

Adaptations -- Children who are not familiar with the computer can sit with the teacher to help them go through the various menus.

Narrative of Pitfalls, Solutions, & Reflections --
Children who do not have computer experience may have a hard time maneuvering through the web quest. Also, there could always be computer difficulties such as the internet being down. Teacher would have to have a back-up plan available in case of technical difficulties.

Walls That Tell a Story
VI. Lesson Plan #4 - Breaking Down Walls

Lesson Rationale & Context: Students have read the book "Talking Walls" and learned about many of the walls in the book, including the cultures of the land. We discussed what walls have in common and decided that many times walls are a place where community shares information. Today we will be discussing walls as obstacles, which prevent us from reaching our goals and what can be done to overcome them.

Learning Objectives:
1. SWBAT determine "walls" or obstacles in their lives.
2. SWBAT brainstorm and evaluate ways to overcome these obstacles.

3.2.(5)A.3 -- Language Arts-Writing-Generate possible ideas for writing through listening, talking, recalling experiences, hearing stories, reading, discussing models of writing, asking questions, and brainstorming.

1. Book "Talking Walls" by Margy Burns Knight

1. Brown, grey, white, red and black construction paper
2. Markers

Lesson Procedure:
Anticipatory Set:
1. Explain that today we will be trying to identify "walls" or obstacles that we have in our lives. Each child will be creating a brick with the obstacle written on it. We will use these bricks to create a wall within our classroom and hopefully, by the end of the year we will be able to knock down many of our obstacles.
2. In future lessons, we will work together as a class to brainstorm some ways to knock down the walls brick by brick.

Main Activity:
1. Review with the student some of the walls we saw in the "Talking Walls" book, and remind them how we found out that many times these walls are places to share information with our communities, families, and friends.
2. Explain that walls are not always a good thing; sometimes they stop us from reaching our goals and dreams.
3. Teacher will talk about a "wall" in her life and the problems associated with it. Show the class the "brick" that was created. On one side it says "shyness". The teacher will then put it up on the classroom wall.

Guided/Joint Participation:
1. To understand the concept of obstacles, each child will be asked to sit in the large cardboard box and try to read a book. They will each see how difficult this is since there is no light, and it is very cramped.
2. Children will then sit in a circle at the rug to brainstorm other "walls" people may have in their lives.

Independent Practice:

1. Back at their desks, children will continue to brainstorm ideas for their "brick" (which is an obstacle in their life).
2. Once they come up with their obstacle, they can create their brick using construction paper and writing the obstacle on one side of the brick.


1. To conclude the lesson, each child will hang their brick up on the wall.
2. Later in other lessons, more will be done with these bricks (writing an essay on their obstacle, and coming up with ways to overcome their obstacle) but for now, the bricks will be hung on a classroom wall and hung so they resemble a wall.


1. Originally letting the children go inside the box so they can understand the concept of obstacles was created as an adaptation for "Adam". I realized, however all children would benefit from this activity.
2. For "Adam" I would try to relate this activity to something he knows a great deal about -- dinosaurs. I would ask why there are no longer dinosaurs on the earth. Adam may respond there was a huge asteroid or talk about the ice age. Either way, these things were obstacles in the existence of the dinosaur. Maybe this way, he can relate to the concept.

The teacher can assess the student on their participation in the group discussion. She can do this by observing the children as they brainstorm and using a checklist to be sure they are all participating, engaged, and are "on-task". Also, children will be assessed on their ability to identify an obstacle in their life by creating their "brick".

Narrative of Pitfalls, Solutions, & Reflections:
Children could have a hard time understanding the concept of "walls" that they can't see. Teacher could provide additional examples.

Also, children may not be willing to share their obstacles in their lives with their classmates. The teacher would then ask the child to either make it anonymous or to identify an obstacle other children may have.

Walls That Tell a Story
VII. Comprehensive Assessment

This assessment uses both conventional and performance based tasks. Conventional assessment are typically a paper and pencil classroom test designed by the teacher which includes either fill-in-the-blank, short answer, matching, multiple choice or true/false questions. Here is an example of a conventional assessment using matching.

Using the photos included, match the names of the walls shown below to the correct photo:

"I am called. . ."

The Great Wall of China: __________ Aborigine Wall Art: ___________

The Lascaux Cave in France: ________ The Western Wall: ___________

Mahabalipuram's Animal Walls: _____ Muslim Walls of Mecca: _______

Great Zimbabwe: ________________ City of the Sun in Peru: ________

The Taos Pueblo: ________________ Diego Rivera's Murals: ________

The Canadian Museum Vietnam Veterans Memorial: ___
of Civilization: __________________

Nelson Mandela's Prison Walls: _____ The Berlin Wall: ______________


Performance based assessment evaluates students based on their performance in completing a task. This is an example of a performance based assessment. The students must listen to the music and decide which culture it is from.

Listen to the music the teacher plays and fill in the name of the wall this music would most likely be played around:

"I would most likely hear. . ."

Song #1 - ____________________________________________________________

Song #2 ____________________________________________________________

Song #3 - ____________________________________________________________


Walls That Tell a Story
VIII. Culminating Activity-Field Trip

The fifth grade students will wrap up their unit on Walls That Tell a Story by visiting the "Moving Wall". This is a smaller version of The Vietnam Veteran's Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C. The company brings the wall out to specific locations throughout the year, and the teacher was able to have them come out to a location in New Jersey that is only 15 minutes from the school.

In the book we are reading, "Talking Walls", Margy Burns Knight describes the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall as a place that brings people together by honoring the brave men and women who died in the war. Prior to visiting the wall, children will each be given the name and background information of several veterans whose names appear on the wall. Each student must read about their assigned veterans and find their names on the wall. If a child has a family member or friend who died in this war, they can choose this person to research.

Visiting the "Moving Wall" will accomplish several things. First, it will help the students to see that this wall honors real people, some of who were not very different from themselves. Next, they can see how the wall was constructed. Last of all, they can see the impact it has on people who come to visit it.

The schedule of our field trip is as follows:

9:00 a.m.- Bus arrives and children are loaded onto the bus

9:20 a.m. - Bus leaves for our field trip location

9:40 a.m. - Bus arrives at the "Moving Wall" memorial

9:40 -- 11:00 - Children will get to examine the wall and find the people they are responsible for.

11:00 a.m. - Picnic lunch in the park surrounding the Moving Wall

11:30 a.m. - Children will be loaded back onto the bus back to school

1:00 p.m. - Back at school children will have time to discuss their feelings about the field trip. What they liked/disliked, if it was what they expected, and the impact if any it had on them.