4th Grade New York

New York Geography

This annotated inquiry focuses on physical geography in general and on the relationship between early (pre-1700) Native American nations and their environments in particular through the compelling question “Does where you live matter?” The compelling question highlights the idea that geography is not a neutral entity. Environments can exert an influence on human existence, but they are not immune from change—human activity can modify the physical landscape. The reciprocal relationship between humans and their surroundings lies at the heart of this inquiry.


Compelling Question:

Does Where You 
Live Matter?

Staging the Question:

Brainstorm the relationship between humans and the physical environment through the concepts of opportunities and constraints.

Supporting Question What physical features make New York State’s geography diverse?

Formative Task Identify the physical features of New York State in a graphic organizer.

Sources Source A: Image bank: Photographs of physical features
Source B: Image bank: Maps of New York State


Supporting Question Where in New York State did early Native Americans settle and how did physical features affect their settlements?

Formative Task Using all available maps, complete a graphic organizer that categorizes the opportunities and constraints of the physical features that affected Native American settlements.

Sources Source A: Haudenosaunee and Algonquian settlement map
Source B: Topographic map of New York State


Supporting Question How did the early Native Americans in New York State interact with their physical environment to meet their needs?

Formative Task Develop and support a series of claims about how the Haudenosaunee and Algonquian modified and adapted to their physical environments.

Sources Source A: Haudenosaunee Guide for Educators (excerpts)
Source B: The People of the Shore: Shinnecocks of Long Island

Summative Performance Task

Argument: How does where you live matter? Construct an argument supported with evidence that addresses the question of how physical features and available resources influenced the locations of early Native Americans settlements in New York State. Express this argument in the form of an essay.
Extension: Express through Powerpoint presentations the ways in which the Haudenosaunee and Algonquian adapted to and modified their physical environments.

Taking Informed Action

Understand: Brainstorm a list of the geographic opportunities and constraints in area neighborhoods and communities.
Assess: Discuss how individuals and communities can turn constraints into opportunities.
Act: Arrange for a local official to visit the class to review the class conclusions and discuss possible community actions.