Voices of Teachers Sharing Their Perspective of Project Implementation
|Teacher -Voice One|
Teacher -Voice One
Wisconsin State Standards include items related to cultures, communication, research and technology. This project addresses some of the standards from the Social Studies, Language Arts, and Information and Technology Literacy areas. There are 46 students in a 2nd/3rd grade multi-age classroom with 3 teachers for this project. The project begins in February, culminating in mid-March with a diversity fair.
The teachers introduce a member from the civic group to the the class. The person talks to the class about various ethnic groups that currently live in River Falls. He/she describes some of the problems they have adapting to a new culture, including traditions, dress, customs and food that are different. He/she discusses with the students that there will be several families from India moving to River Falls in about a month including at least three children that will be attending their elementary school. The civic member asks the students if they could help to teach/educate the school and/or the community about differences between various ethnic groups. The students ask some questions related to "how" and "when". The teacher discusses with the students that this could be a project they work on during their social studies, language arts and technology classes for the next saver weeks and that as a class they will brainstorm some of the options for "how", "when" and "where."
The teacher facilitates a brainstorming session with the students related to the following ideas: "What is a community?" "What is a culture?" What cultures exist in our community?' The teacher lists and discusses ideas that the students come up with and then continues the brainstorming session with the questions: "What are groups in your school or community that you've been accepted into or denied participation in?" "How did that make you feel and what did you do?"
The students brainstorm different cultures that they would like to study. The teacher divides the students into groups of four and explains that each group will study one culture. The students take a couple of minutes to discuss the culture they would like to study and the teacher lists their choices on the board.
The teacher tells the students that as a group they should brainstorm (written copy of these questions given to each group) ideas related to "What would you want to learn and how would you learn about people from other cultures?" and "What can we do to make people from other cultures/ethnicities feel more comfortable at our school and in our community?' They are given 15 minutes to work on this during this session and told that they will have another 10 minutes to finish it tomorrow.
The teacher reviews the two questions with the students and has them work in their groups for 10 minutes to continue brainstorming ideas related to those two questions. Then, as a class they are asked to share their ideas related to the first question. During this process the teacher writes broad questions on the board related to what the students are sharing such as: "What holidays does your culture celebrate?" "What are their daily routines?" "What kind of music and books do they have?" "What kind of foods do they eat?" "What kind of living arrangements do they have, including type of housing and what people are in their house?"
The students then discuss ideas about how to make people from other cultures/ethnicities feel more comfortable. The teacher facilitates this discussion and the students decide to do a presentation to the school/community (diversity fair) and to post their information on their class web page.
A group of students from the University multi-cultural group arrive and are invited to meet with the students in their groups. Each group is completing a KWR form with the following headings: What We Know, What We Want to Know, and Resources to Use. Each University student talks with two groups about these items. The University students offer to be e-mail resources for their group. The three facilitators are moving among the groups listening and guiding the students.
The teacher shows the students the web site and explains the type of information found on each page of the site and how to navigate through the site. These pages include the task page (description of the task and a student timeline) and the resource page which has links to available on-line resources, e-mail links to representatives of various ethnic groups, e-mail links to their University support person and a list of available library resources. The teacher also shows them the rubric page and facilitates a discussion regarding the rubric and how students will use this format to evaluate how they are working through the process. The teacher then shows them the journal page which has several questions on and explains that each student will submit this completed form once a week.
Students are working in groups of four locating, analyzing and synthesizing information. Team members have various roles including: expert contact person, library resource person, internet links person, and the on-task/rubric person. Each student is given index cards to help organize their data.
During this two week period students are in the computer lab three times (2 times the first week, 1 time the second week) for 1 1/2 hour each time. They are in the media center three times which allows them access to computers, library resource material, and places to work as a group. They are in their classroom 4 of those days of the two week period with access to 7 computers and work areas.
The 5th day during this work time the students each complete a journal entry. The journal has their each role listed and the students list out what they have discovered during the last week and questions/ideas for the next week. Also, on the 5th day the students, as a team, complete a process rubric and add to their KWR chart. One of the three facilitators meet with each group to discuss the journal, KWR and the completed rubric.
After these two weeks, the University students join the class for another session. The teacher facilitates the students, as a class, in developing a rubric for evaluating their product, including content. The students work in their original group with their University student to organize how they want to present their information. The students are encouraged to include the University student in their plan. Some of their ideas include serving food items, doing a HyperStudio project, wearing clothes that represent that culture, having musical instruments, books and games from their culture available, posters boards that display information about their selected culture, etc... The students complete the presentation page as a group which explains what resources they will need, the roles the members will have and what their project will look and sound like.
The students work for the next two days putting all the items of their project together.
The student groups present their product to the class. The groups evaluate their own project and each individual evaluates one other group. The teachers complete one rubric for each group. Students then take one day making recommended adjustments to their project. The teacher facilitates a discussion about developing a web page with their information. Each group can decide what to include and each group completes a layout of their page including pictures, information and graphics..
Each group has a station at the diversity fair (held in the gym/cafeteria of their school) where other students, parents and community members move from station to station. The guests are reading, interacting with the students, trying out the instruments, asking the groups of students relevant questions, etc... During the diversity fair students are also taking pictures that they had previously decided to include in their web page.
There are two more days where the students work on their web page. Students spend two 1 1/2 hour periods in the computer lab developing their web page.
The first day the students are shown the basics of Composer and examples of web pages. During this time the teacher discusses various components of a web page such as readability, color schemes, picture placement, etc.. The teacher facilitates a discussion of items that would be included on a rubric to assess how well they complete their web page.
The students have different roles within their group: person inputting text, person working on selecting the pictures to use, person deciding which links to use and imputing those, student working in Composer and taking each of the other group members' items and copying and pasting into their group Composer page.
For these two days there are 3 teachers and the computer lab aide to work with the students. On the first day, one of the teachers works with the designated "Composer" individuals from each group to teach and practice needed Composer skills. The other students in the group gather their information. They enter text and links into a word processing program and pictures into a graphic folder.
On the second day the "Composer" person of each team puts the information together on the group web page with input from the other team members. The students in their groups, complete the above developed rubric. The teacher also completes a rubric for each group. The teacher connects all the web pages and posts them off of their classroom sites. The link for this site is put out in their elementary newsletter and a write up of the diversity fair is sent to the local newspaper with the link included.
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Teacher -Voice Two
The classroom is a multiage environment of 46 second and third graders facilitated by two teachers. The physical arrangement of the room is open without a closure between the two "classrooms". There are computer gardens in several work areas and students regularly use the technology for learning. A hands-on, exploratory approach is regularly a part of the instructional day. This multidisciplinary project emphasizes the Wisconsin Model Academic Standards in the areas of information technology, social studies, and language arts and centers on the theme of community and cultural diversity. The unit lasts approximately one month devoting approximately one hour a day to the project. A third teacher (ED teacher) facilitates with the two classroom teachers.
A member of a community civic group visits the classroom to explain to the students the process of sponsoring Indian families to move into the community. The civic group is assisting in the relocation of five families. She explains that several families have children that will be attending the school and will need help in understanding the "culture" of the school. Additionally, the community will be enriched with another culture adding to the mixture of people living in the town. The civic group member asks the students to extend their learning about cultures, community and acceptance of others and develop a way of assisting members of the community to learn about various cultures and acceptance of ethnicities. The students ask questions about why the families chose their town and why they are leaving their homeland. The response includes comments regarding the issues of living in a "third world" country and these families looking to improve their living conditions.
The students, facilitated by a teacher, develop a KWL (what we know, what we want to learn and at the end of the project what we learned) and chart the discussion of what constitutes a community, a culture and what cultures presently exist in the community. Topics of interest brainstormed by the students include: art, celebrations, daily routines of another culture, music, literature, how and why cultures continue, and developing acceptance of people from other cultures. The teacher facilitates a discussion centered on how the class may learn more about other cultures and assist the community in gaining that knowledge.
During another class session,and following group discussion, the students individually design a display of their choice to show groups in their community that they've been accepted into and those that they've been denied participation. Actions and feelings are included in their displays which include pictures, charts, computer generated concept maps using Inspiration, and audio overviews.
The three previous activities provide the teachers with an overview of background knowledge of the students, and an understanding of the possible resources and materials the students will need to pursue their learning. The students then generate a list of cultures in their community and within the state and nation. The students again identify their knowledge level about those cultures through the use of a process chart. This chart lists various cultures and questions/issues that the students generate to help guide their pursuit of information. Students then select a culture they like to learn more about and being thinking about how they'll use that information with the school and community. The teacher places the students in work groups of 4-6 students according to their culture choice. The students develop their own KWL for their culture and process chart to guide their work. The three teachers work with the nine groups to develop their action plans which synthesize the questions from the charts, identify possible resources, identify roles that each student will have in the group process and timelines for completion of the work.
A process rubric, defined by the teachers, is shared with the students. Discussion centered on the roles that students play and what constitutes excellent work.
The class goes to the computer lab and accesses the engaged learning project URL. The teachers guide the students through the overview of the site and provide time for the students to explore. The teachers briefly describe the portion of the web pages where the students will be posting their information. The groups explore web sites to begin research their culture. During the next week, the students spend two more class sessions in the computer lab and media center exploring the resources to answer their questions and produce a picture of their culture. The three teachers are each responsible for three groups and monitor their progress, assist with problems, and ask additional questions to refine their process.
Technology provides a vehicle for students to access members and research information about their particular culture. Emails are sent to community members and other communities that have sponsored families from other cultures. The sites on the project web site are explored. A video conference using CU CME is used several times for students to have immediate contact with people from other cultures. Emails are sent to students in other countries to gain their perspective on their culture. The computer lab and computer gardens are available for students to use
The teachers working with their three groups monitor the progress of their groups by referring back to the KWL chart, reviewing the action plans with the students and reading the student journal entries which are done on a weekly basis. The process rubric is used as a reference for the work. The responsibility for the project is the students. The teachers provide feedback and formative assessment based on the tools (KWL, action plans, journals, rubric) available to the students.
A member of each group (8 students) accompanied by a teacher go to the university to solicit their involvement in the project. The students explain their research to this point. The university students provide feedback and provide additional ideas and information.
Approximately one and a half weeks into the project, the student groups summarize their learning on their own culture's KWL. Members of the multicultural university student group are invited to the classroom and meet with the small groups. Students share their learning and the university students provide feedback and additional questions as well as information.
The class and university students brainstorm to develop ideas of how they will increase the understanding of cultural diversity both in the school and the community. A cultural diversity fair is discussed with each culture being represented through a different definer of culture such a food, dance,music, literature and language. The culture groups now consist of 6-8 second and third graders and two to four university students.The groups of students jointly develop a content rubric to guide the rest of their work and to use as an evaluation tool.
The second and third graders return to the computer lab for instruction on using the web page templates to post their work. The elementary students post their work and share the web site with the university students. The university students return to work on the presentation. Some of the small groups learn how to use HyperStudio for their presentation.The teachers now back away from the process and let the mixed student groups communicate, plan and produce for approximately one week. The teachers' role is to oversee the process and assist the groups in making connections to coordinate the events of the fair.
The mixed student groups share their performances, presentations and learning experiences to the class. The students and teachers use the content rubric as an evaluation tool and provide "critical friend" feedback to their peers. Modifications are made by the groups based on the feedback. Final postings to the website are made. Representative groups contact the local newspaper for coverage on their project and to post their web site. Preparations are made for the cultural diversity fair being held in the student center of the university. Posters are displayed in the community stores and the school.
The fair is held and community and school members attend and participate in the shared learning experience. The results of the project are displayed in the form of Hyper Studio presentations, cultural dance, food tasting, and musical presentations. Verbal feedback is provided to the students from those attending the fair.
The university students provide their journal entries to the students for feedback. The second and third graders return to their KWL charts for their culture and complete the L-what I learned. The class overall revisits the class KWL chart to complete the L section and reflect on both process and content. The four weeks of journal entries are reviewed by the students for a final reflection on their learning.
The ultimate evaluation of the project will be done when the Indian students become a part of the school culture. The web page is updated periodically to assist the community in ongoing learning.
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Teacher -Voice Three
This lesson focuses on second/third graders exploring the concepts of community, culture and acceptance. Students are learning about culture development (social studies) and communicating effectively using research and inquiry techniques (language arts). Students will use technology as a tool to access, record, organize and communicate their results (information and literacy standards). This unit may last 2-4 weeks depending on the number of students involved, depth of investigations and extent teacher wants to produce a diversity fair.
Because students in this area of Wisconsin are under exposed to diversity within their schools, experiences such as these are vital to healthy community development. The teacher describes the work of the area civic association and tells the class that a member from that organization will be coming tomorrow to describe a current project and will be asking for help from the students. The teacher will ask if any of the students have had the opportunity to help their community. If so, the students will share their experiences and feelings with community work.
The teacher will help the students summarize the importance of working with community organizations and predict what would happen if no one gave time or energy to community efforts. After the community representative describes the relocation of the families from India and problems they are facing, the representative will lead the students in a brainstorming activity which lists ways they could become involved in helping their community understand various cultures. The students will think overnight on their suggestions and ask other family members for input. The next day the teacher will help students connect their brainstormed ideas into the idea of a "diversity" fair. The teacher will introduce the authentic task of exploring the idea of community, culture and acceptance by investigating questions with the help of technology and university partners. Based upon the results of the brainstorming, teachers will group students into like groups of 3-4 students. Grouping may be based on similar cultures that wish to be investigated, similar questions about cultures or similar concerns about helping people get along. Each team will make a plan for the process they will use to gather information and decide which role each student will play in the group. It may be suggested to have one student act as researcher, one as recorder and one as communicator.
The teacher will guide the action planning and provide any necessary guidelines appropriate for their classroom. Over the next 2-4 weeks, students will be spending a portion of their day on this project. During the designated project time, students would be looking at materials associated with their cultural study, talking on line to university partners, viewing information available through teacher selected web sites or using e-mail to obtain more information for their study. Many of the resources that will be available to the students will have been pre-selected by the teacher ahead of time and checked to make sure they are appropriate to the age level. Examples of these resources include: books, CD ROM references, Internet sites bookmarked on the computer by the teacher, e-mail address exchanges pre-set up with university partners, etc. (If possible, a face-to-face meeting with university partners along the path of this study would be useful)
As the students gather the information, the teacher will continually ask them how to think about how they will be communicating their information to the audience at the diversity fair. Teacher may take time to brainstorm with students potential audience members and other specific facts about the diversity fair such as time, place, permission needed, volunteers from parents, advertising, etc. These additional tasks will then be delegated to each group for further work. Each group will practice their presentation with another classroom and take their critique ideas back for consideration with their group. Together with students from all groups, the class will begin to build a rubric which will be used to evaluate their presentation. This rubric can be handed out to audience members to get feedback on the diversity fair presentations. Parent volunteers can be used to take pictures of the diversity fair and these pictures along with descriptions of what students learned can be posted to the classroom or school web page.
Other classrooms around the country can access this page and learn more about the specifics of this project. If specific cultural guest speakers area available in the community they can also provide feedback to the students concerning their presentation and this feedback could also be posted on the web page. For more conversation on evaluation of this project, at a latter date in the school year, the local community civic association may come back into the classroom and discuss with the students any impact their project had on the community.
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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
Author(s): Lois Martin, Trish Graves, Sue Selbin
School: CESA #11, Turtle Lake, WI
Created: February 15, 2001 - Updated: April 18, 2001