Grades K-2Grades 3-5 Tennessee

Tennessee Geography

This 2nd and 3rd grade inquiry expands student understandings of how a state is shaped by exploring the ways in which geographic and cultural forces work together to define a region. The compelling question—“How did my state get its shape?”—engages students in an examination of the defining characteristics of Tennessee by noting the history around the creation of Tennessee’s borders and regions in addition to an examination of Tennessee’s rich cultural heritage. 


Compelling Question:

How did my state get its shape?

Staging the Question:

Generate a list of things that are special about Tennessee and discuss which three things are most important and why they are the most important.

Supporting Question How did Tennessee get its borders?

Formative Task Annotate a Tennessee map by highlighting the defining characteristics of Tennessee’s borders and regions.

Sources Source A: This is how each state got its shape, USA Today, 2021.
Source B: Tennessee: Get Facts and Photos about the 16th State, National Geographic Kids.
Source C: Google Earth


Supporting Question How do people and places shape my state?

Formative Task Gather and annotate 10-15 sources that tell a story about people and/or places (e.g., musicians, cities, Smoky Mountains) in Tennessee. Then, make a list of how your assigned group’s people/places have shaped the state of Tennessee.

Sources Source A: Resources for Jump Starting Student Research, various curated websites.
Source B: Student generated resources

Summative Performance Task

Argument: Construct an argument by making a poster that tells the story of how Tennessee got its shape using a variety of informational and geographic sources (e.g., images, maps).

Taking Informed Action

Understand: Students will create an immersive “Tennessee Welcome Center” and guide community members through their exhibits.