OUR TOWN, OUR CITY
What's In A Name?
For grades 4 - 8
Grades 6 - 12
History and Social Science:
Gr 3, CS #4 4. Use cardinal directions, map scales, legends, and titles to locate places on contemporary maps of New England, Massachusetts, and the local community. (G)
Grades PK-K: 8.5. For informational/expository texts: Retell important facts from a text heard or read.
Grades 3-4: 4.15. Determine the meanings of words and alternate word choices using a dictionary or thesaurus.
Grades 5-6: 3.8. Give oral presentations for various purposes, showing appropriate changes in delivery (gestures, vocabulary, pace, visuals) and using language for dramatic effect.
Grade 3: 4s.9. Determine the meanings of words using a beginning dictionary.
Grades 5-6: 4.19. Determine pronunciations, meanings, alternate word choices, and parts of speech of words using dictionaries and thesauruses.
Grades 7-8: 4.22. Determine pronunciations, meanings, alternate word choices, parts of speech, or etymologies of words using dictionaries and thesauruses.
Grades 9-10: 4.25. Use general dictionaries, specialized dictionaries, thesauruses, or related references as needed to increase learning.
Grades 11-12: 4.27. Use general dictionaries, specialized dictionaries, thesauruses, histories of language, books of quotations, and other related references as needed.
Grades 5-8: 3.6. In keeping with the research process outlined in Standard 24 of the English Language Arts Curriculum Framework, identify electronic sources of information (e.g., Internet, CD-ROM, online periodical databases, and online catalogs).
Grades 5-8: 3.7. Use search engines effectively to find relevant, unbiased, and current information on a subject. (Standard 2 performance indicators apply--i.e., evaluate Web sites and write correct citations for sources.)
Grades 9-12: 3.12. In conducting research use all appropriate electronic sources (e.g., Web sites, online periodical databases, online catalogs).
Grades 9-12: 3.13. Integrate (with correct citations) electronic research results into a research project.
Grades 9-12: 3.14. Routinely evaluate Web sites for authenticity when using them.
Duration: One or two class periods.
1. Begin by discussing the following questions as a group: What's in a name? What can a name tell us about an object or a person (ethnicity, status, personality.)? What is the name of our town or city? How is it spelled? Where do you think this name came from? What makes you think that? Does our community have any nicknames? How is a nickname different from a name? (less formal, sometimes more descriptive)
2. Have students locate their community on the "Sources of Place Names" map from the Historical Atlas of Massachusetts (below). Match the the community's fill-in color with the legend below the map, which shows the source of the place name.
3. Was your community named after another place, or after a person, or after a physical feature or landmark, such as a river, mountain or valley?
4. Students use the library encyclopedia or the Internet to learn more about the place, the person or natural landmark that your community is named after. (Online sources: Mass. Community Profiles, Wikipedia, Britannica Online (subscription only, but generally available through school library, or local Public Library website.) They should answer the questions: When did the town receive its present name? Why might this have seemed like the perfect name for this place? What characteristics are implied in the name? What is the story behind this name?
5. Write the name of the local community on the blackboard. Use all of the students' contributions to create a composite concept map describing the characteristics of the person, place or natural landmark that gave this community its name.
6. Propose a new name for your community based on one of the other categories (for example, if your community was named after a person, you might think of a new name based on a natural landmark.) Introduce the new name to the class, and explain why it is an appropriate name for this community.
"Sources of Place Names" map from the Historical Atlas of Massachusetts (below)
Paper, pencil or pen
Sources of Place Names for All Communities in Massachusetts.
This online image is from the book Historical Atlas of Massachusetts Richard W. Wilkie and Jack Tager, Published in 1991, University of Massachusetts Press. You may click the image above for a larger version of the map. Note: the printed version of the map in the Historical Atlas of Massachusetts is more easily readable; a copy of this wonderful book was donated to each public library in Massachusetts - check your town library for a copy!
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