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Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
The combination of students, local history, researching, and problem-based learning creates a powerful opportunity for learning to all involved. This article provides one example of how an elementary teacher and a teacher educator have used local resources and problem-based learning to teach a fourth grade unit about human communities and the history of the local area. For this unit the teacher wanted to build on students' knowledge about the concepts of community, which was studied in third grade. Many benefits for elementary students are associated with a problem-based learning unit focused on human migration and interdependence between human communities. The authors describe how fourth graders were encouraged and forced to use higher order thinking skills (e.g., analyzing, synthesizing, evaluating) and inductive reasoning. Cooperatively and collaboratively they researched primary and secondary sources, and discovered solutions (reasons and themes for human migration). The use of problem-based learning created a high level of excitement, which contributed to willingness to take risks as students discovered solutions for human migration. The discussion and critical thinking involved in a problem-based learning unit provides opportunities to develop an understanding of human communities in the local area and an awareness of the history of the local area. (Contains 3 endnotes.)