8Th Grade Project Particpants
Background/ContextThis project is for eighth grade students and will be facilitated by pre-service English teachers enrolled in English 460 - Technology and the Teaching of English. Students will use the Internet, library resources, and personal interviews to research and identify the effects of the diminishing rainforests and how this might affect their everyday lives and experiences.
Extreme environmental destruction may tend to occur in remote locations, but it has local implications, and, the destruction of the environment also continues to take place in more developed regions. It is just harder to recognize, and in many cases it has become an accepted practice in the name of progress.
In collaborative groups of no more than four students, mentors will assist students research current issues regarding the destruction of the rainforest and draw connections between the destruction in the rainforest and current growth and development issues in their local community. Through personal interviews and research, students will explore the scope of the problem and generate questions and issues based upon their research. In their groups, students will identify issues that they find relevant or interesting taking place in the rainforest. Next, students will apply their understanding by identifying and investigating the impact of development in their community.
The teacher will divide students into groups for conducting preliminary research on the rainforest. After this phase has been completed, students will be free to group themselves based upon the issues they have identified and wish to continue to explore and investigate.
On the first day of class students in Engl. 460 are given a course syllabus and a general description of the project we will be working on with an 8th grade public school class. The first activity will be to familiarize students with Blackboard 5 and the project web pages. Particular attention is devoted to understanding the evaluation rubrics that the teacher will be using to evaluate the 8th grade students work. I will also be explaining, in general terms, the concept of engaged learning and how 8th grade students will be learning about the rain forest and exploring current events taking place in their community with the objective of trying to draw comparisons between events taking place in these two environments.
Mentors and 8th grade students will be given pass-words and e-mail addresses on our project site on Blackboard 5.
Jane asks, "If we are not actually grading students why do we need to know or worry about the rubrics?"
Dr. Parker responds, "We need to be familiar with the rubrics to ensure that mentors will be able to direct students according to project expectatons. Our concern with assessment is not to grade these students, but to assist them in achieving specific expectations.
Scenario for 8th Grade Class - The classroom teacher is explaining to students that they will be working on a project with students from North Carolina A&T State University who will serve as mentors. Each team will have one mentor who will help them in composing their journals, locating resources, and communicating with experts who might be able to provide valuable information. Mentors will also provide technical assistance with developing the project web site.
Bob asks, "Will we get to meet our mentors, or will we just talk with them using Blackboard 5?"
The teacher responds by saying, "Dr. Parker has suggested that we organize a field trip to visit the university, meet our mentors in person, and maybe even use their computer lab to add some really great features to our web site. "
James asks, "What happens if we don't like our mentors?"
The teacher says, "That is a very good point. For effective teamwork to take place everybody has to work together. If, for some reaon your team wants to change mentors, we will take that into consideration."
Students will be working on their field journal, where they will record their observations and findings. After they complete their entries for the week they will e-mail copies to their mentors who will offer advise and suggestions regarding usefulness and correct grammar. Students will also be locating and evaluating Internet resources and sharing content with their team from their current events folder. The teacher will track the students' progress through their journals after the mentors have made appropriate suggestions and students have had time to make revisions. Mentors will also receive a weekly report from the classroom teacher where they may share ideas,concerns, and the status of the project. This report will be posted using the discussion board on Blackboard 5. This information will be archived and used by Dr. Parker to evaluate the project and as a tool for assessing the effectiveness of mentors enrolled in Engl. 460.
Students will be organizing their work by editing streaming video of selected interviews, revising their journal entries, and collecting current events they find relevant to events taking place in the rain forest. As a means for organizing the entire project and for keeping track of where we are, students will be using a storyboarding technique that will be posted on the wall in their classroom and updated every week. Mentors will also be keeping and updating a storyboard posted on the wall of our classroom.
In Engl 460 Jane tells Dr. Parker, "I know what my team is doing but I have a hard time visualizing how my team's work will fit into the entire project."
Dr. Parker responds, " I think we should have a storyboard posted in our lab so we will have a better idea of where each team is with the project. This will help in the end when we help students develop their web site, and, it will keep us all posted as to each team's progress and direction."
Steve asks his teacher," What does mining in the rainforest have to do with my community?"
The teacher responds by suggesting that when mining occurs and erodes the landscape, it pollutes the water. "Why don't you see if anybody is concerned here about water pollution and if their is any kind of major construction taking place in the area?"
Kate wants to know what other members of her team are doing and how are going to fit everything together to complete the project.
"That's a good question Kate" the teacher says. "Sometime I'm not even sure myself because our project has so many different ideas going at once. Why don't we have each team keep a progress report and update it so we all know where we are and what ideas we are working on?"
"We can use a technique like filmakers use when they create movies. It's called a storyboard. This will be helpful too when we begin designing our web-site. We can post it on the wall of our classroom for us to use and to let other people who might visit our class have the opportunity to learn about our project and see the great work we are all doing."
End / Completion of Project
The culmination of our project is the completion and posting of our project web site. Students also have a completed journal that reflects their research. Dr. Parker is given copies of the 8th grade student's storyboards so that he may compare their storyboard with the one posted in the mentors computer lab. This will help us in assessing this project and in planning for our next one. Students have made a field trip to North Carolina A&T State University where they were able to meet their mentors and to add additional components to their web site.
Sam tells Dr. Parker, " I have to admit that I was worried whether or not my team would achieve the objectives as defined by the rubrics. I am really surprised how well they did."
Dr. Parker responds, " Sam, the only thing I can say is that students in English 460 deserve a lot of credit for the coaching and mentoring during this project. I think we all have learned a different way of achieving expectations."
Jane tells Dr. Parker, "I really felt like I got to know my team members during this project and instead of telling them how to do things for a grade, I really feel that we all explored an issue together and learned something useful."
Kate tells her teacher, " I never knew how complicated it was to just want to build a shopping center or an office park. A lot more is at stake then just tearing down trees."
John tells his teacher, " I still think we need jobs and a place to work. Just because some people like to hang around ina forest doesn't mean we have to listen to them all the time!"
Bob says, " But what about the jobs those guys were doing where the rainforest once was? Would you like to work in a mine, or drink that water?"
The classroom teacher thinks......"I guess this project is never really completed because there are no hard and fast rules and there are no simple answers to such highly complex issues. Maybe that is the most important thing for students to realize. Explore issues with an intelligent and open mind, and respect the ideas and opinions of others. I really believe that these students have become aware of their reponsibility to become informed citizens and of the inter-dependence required to maintain a community"
Dr. Parker is sitting in his office at the university thinking...." I just pray they pass the end of the year writing exam!!!!!
Created for the Fermilab LInC program sponsored by Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory Education Office and Friends of Fermilab, and funded by United States Department of Energy, Illinois State Board of Education, North Central Regional Technology in Education Consortium which is operated by North Central Regional Educational Laboratory (NCREL), and the National Science Foundation.
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School: Anyschool, Yourtown, USA
Created: February 15, 1977 - Updated: April 18, 2001