|Summary||Student Pages||Index of Projects|
It's Monday morning and the students have just entered the class. Maria
is distraught and is relating to a group of girls how she had difficulty
finding information/resources for her science fair project at the local
library. For the last month, students have been preparing for the Science
Fair. The teacher overhears the conversation and initiates a discussion
of resources found within the community. A couple of students who are new
to the class this year talked about some of the resources they had in their
former communities. One of the students related to the class that in his
previous school in California they had emailed other students to find out
what other kids where thinking about different issues. Roberto asked if
it was possible for the class to search the Internet in the computer Lab
(Learning Resource Center). The teacher thought it was a wonderful idea
since they will be going there after lunch and she would ask the Learning
Resource Center teacher if they could search for sites where students could
send email to other students and where children could learn about other
While in the lab, one group found a site, Email classroom Exchange or Key Pals, where teachers presented a topic and students could give their input or opinions in a response by email. Another group found the Global School House Network site where various school have show cased interesting things in their own communities. The students enjoyed reading all about them.
Once back in the classroom, students wanted to share what they found interesting about other communities. Laura commented,"We have many good things in our community, we should enter information about our Little Village Community in the Global School House Network" . The teacher responds, "That's a great idea but how are we going to really find out about all the things in our community?" Roberto suggest that the class go out for a walk to identify the important resources and points of interest in the community. The teacher and class plan the walk for the following Friday. She sends permission slips home with the students and asks for parent volunteers to accompany them on the walk.
While on their walk the students were given a community check list to follow. After the students return from a five block walk of the neighborhood, the teacher begins a discussion about what was observed during the walk. Students started to point out what they read about in the Global School House site . After a ten minute discussion of the observations, she uses the overhead to project a visual display (venn diagram) of similarities and differences between other communities and the Little Village community. Many students noticed that other communities had different resources than their community. Maria again made mention of how frustrated she was in trying to find information for her Science Fair Project at the neighborhood library. The teacher responds by saying,"That is something we definitely need in this community". Roberto says, "How could we get a better library?" At this time, the teacher begins to make another chart to list the suggestions the students feel our community is lacking. This is the focus the teacher is using to engage her students in the development of this project. This question causes interaction among the students because of the various view points that arise. One student remembers the email network she saw in the lab and suggested that the class email other students to find out what they feel is needed in their community. Four students volunteer that they would be willing to do this. The teacher said," check the student page on the computer for some email guidelines. The class begins to organize themselves into the following groups.
Fourth Grade Activities: One group decided to work on a web page to enter the Global School House Network Another group is posting messages on the email .While the third group is searching the Internet to find out what other students in other areas of the country think of their communities. During the next two weeks, students are busy researching, compiling and organizing the information found. Maria has noticed that many communities have modern up to date libraries. She and other students begin to ask,"What can we do to get the same service in our library?" Roberto says, "My sister, Alicia, who is in eight grade, is studying about city government, she says our Alderman is our community representative for city government.
Eighth Grade Activities:The eighth grade has just spent the last six weeks studying the constitution of the United States. At the end of the unit many students still had several questions regarding our political system. Juanita wanted to know what the difference was between the Democratic and Republican parties. Armando wanted to know who his representatives were in Congress and Alicia said she also wanted to know who her other representatives were but at the state levels. Due to the fact that these answers cannot be found in the text book, the class realized that they would have to look elsewhere to find this information which leads to the following activities.
The first weeks activities revolve around the discovery of information on the democratic and republican parties. The students will visit the site of each party to find out historical information on each. Next, students will research important issues to each part as they read information published by each party on their site. As the students read this information they will pay close attention to the loaded language used to persuade the reader to agree with their side.
The next weeks activities will allow the students to research who their Congress person is. They will use the search engine The Zipper to find this information. Once they locate this information they can also find out their political party affiliation, background information, years served etc. Another important aspect students want to know is how their representative feels towards different issues and students will have the opportunity to research issues important to them and match it with their rep to see if they agree or disagree. The students will even go a step farther by researching the same topic to see what current legislation is being considered. While they are doing this, they can find out where the legislation began (House or Senate), who sponsored the bill and where it stand currently. The students will be able to use this information to write an e-mail letter expressing their concerns.
The last activity will have the students research the Illinois Legislature. This component will be similar to the information gathered for their rep in Congress. The students will locate the political party affiliation, background information, years served and issues that are important to their state representative and senator. They will be able to compare and contrast this information to that of their Congress person as well as to their personal views. The students will once again compose a letter stating their opinions and concerns and send it to their state representatives via e-mail.
After the students have gathered all of this information, they will put together a packet of information to share with their fourth grade partners. They will also prepare questions for their visit with their elected official in Washington, D.C. or Springfield, depended which trip they are taking. They will also begin to work on researching local government officials and services that are offered.
The teacher said, "Let's contact Miss. Langes' class". Both classroom teachers decide that the students will meet. The next day the fourth and eighth grade students meet to discuss and share the activities that they have been working for the last few weeks. The eight grade will relate information on how all levels of government work to help build background for the fourth grade on representative governnment. The fourth grade students convey the information that they have gathered from searching the Internet. They tell about what resources other communities have and what they feel are important resources in their own community. After all groups have shared their information students will focus on what action should be taken in order to bring needed resources to their community, for example improved library services. Some students realize the importance of contacting local government representatives to express their concern for improved community resources. Other students want to get the local school council involved in their cause of improving community resources. Alicia expresses that the class should present information to the local school council and ask parents to participate in a the letter writing campaign.
During the next few days, fourth and eight grade students begin to organize themselves into different groups to work on various tasks. Three groups have decided that they would like to work on a technology presentation that will be given to the local school council. They are using two presentation programs. Some are using HyperStudio, while others are using Claris Slide Show. Another group has decided to develop a survey to be sent home so that the parents can respond to what they feel are important concerns in the community. The survey will be used for feedback on what is the most important concern of the local community at this time. Students will graph the results and information will be included in the presentation programs. Another group of students is working on writing persuasive letters to be sent to the community's alderman. Some students have decided to invite the alderman to the local school council meeting. Another groups is designing a flyer which will be sent to all parents inviting them to the next local school council.The teacher sets a time limit for two weeks to work on all of the projects. After the presentations are completed each group will show their presentation to the other members of the class in a rehearsal. Students will evaluate the presentations using the rubric. The group receiving the highest evaluation will present to the local school council at the monthly meeting.
After the presentations at the local school council, the two classes and parents will continue with a letter writing campaign to elected representatives and working with the local elected officials to help improve needs in their community.