Fermilab LInC Online


A Student Guided Study of Countries in the Western Hemisphere


Student Pages
Index of Projects

Subject:  Social Studies, Math, Language Arts

Grade Level:  6th Grade Bilingual Spanish/English


A class of 6th grade bilingual students will use the Internet and email, as well as more traditional methods, to research a selected group of countries from Central and South America and the Caribbean.  Students will contact real people to learn about the geography, history, culture, current events and othere interesting facts about particular countries.  They will prepare reports and share them orally and on a classroom web site.  Information will be appropriate for middle school students including other LEP/Spanish speaking students who are studying the Western Hemisphere.

Learner Description/Environment:

This is a class of 29 students.  Students vary in their exposure to English.  Some have been in the country less than a year and some have been here most of their lives.  The average time in this country is about 4 years.  Their academic skill levels vary greatly as well.  Some are very strong in Spanish, some are relatively good in English, some are academically poor in all areas.  They are all enthusiastic about learning and seem to be excited about participating in an engaged learning project.

We have five computers of various types in our classroom; one is connected to the Internet.  Computers are mostly used for word processing, but are also used with a number of math programs and activities, spreadsheet tasks, and Internet research projects.

Time Frame:

This project could be expanded to be taught for the whole year.  We will be working on it from  March through June.

Learner Outcomes:

  1. Students will communicate with real people to gather information to help themselves and others learn about the Western Hemisphere.
  2. Students will share important events in the history of particular countries with others..
  3. Students will be able to generally explain the geography, climate, and customs of the countries.
  4. Students will identify important current events in the countries they are studying.
  5. Students will be able to create circle graphs using protractor and compass showing economy of country using degrees of angles and convert these degrees to percents.
  6. Students will be able to create the same circle graphs using a spreadsheet and computer conversion.
  7. Students will organize and present all of the above data on websites in Spanish and/or English for other students to use in studies of the Western Hemisphere.

Structure of the Learning:


In our scenario, students have just come to a new country.  They have decided to start their own school, since they are unable to communicate in the local schools due to language barriers.  As part of their curriculum, they want to be able to study about the countries in the Western Hemisphere.  While there are books all around them, there are none that they can easily understand.  They decide to develop their own materials in their own language, and/or in an easier form of English.  Once they have these materials, they can not only learn themmselves, but can teach other students in their own school.  They can also share what they have learned with LEP students everywhere via their web site.  In order to create these new materials, students will communciate with real people including students from certain Latin American counties, government officials from the various countries, and United Nations Delegates.  They will gather real life information about the countries they are studying.  Students will be able to communicate in Spanish, their native language and obtain materials that are unavailable at their school.  They will be able to share with other students what they have learned in both English and Spanish.


Students will work in 5 groups of 5-6 students each to complete the task.  Each group will choose two countries in Latin America.  One country will be from a given list; including, Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Brazil, and Argentina.  Each group will then choose any other Latin American country they would like to study.  Students in each group will assume a particular role.  The roles include that of a geographer/map maker, a climatologist, an historian, a social scientist (reporting on the culture of the country), a media reporter (for current events/problems), and a travel and leisure reporter (reporting on areas of interest to tourists).  With this focus in mind, they will research and compile information on the two countries in their group.  Teacher will oversee project,  provide guidance, and act as editor-in-chief.


Students will give oral presentations and record their findings and experiences on our class web site so that other Limited English Proficient sudents studying the Western hemisphere will benefit from them.

Best Use of Technology:

Students will use technology in many aspects of this project.  They will use the Internet to gather materials from officials and experts, as well as, students/teachers both here and in other countries.  They will transcribe the materials using word processing software.  They will create spreadsheets to compile data and to graph that information.

Since students are aware that the materials they are developing will be shared with adults, as well as, other young people like themselves over the web, their interest in providing accurate, interesting work will be heightened.  They will have a personal interest in doing the best work they can.


Students will be given outlines and timelines to pace themselves over the project.  Groups will meet together to check progress of each member of the group and provide support or look for assistance as necessary.  Each group will have a check list of items they can or will use to complete the project.

A rubric will be created to assess both individual and group participataion and accomplishment.  Each of the research areas for each of the countries will be included.  Since the group will be assessed as well as the individual, peer pressure will be exerted on members of the team to keep up their part of the project.

Project Evaluation:

The project/unit will be evaluated based on the completion of the tasks by the various groups.  Adaptations will be evaluated along the way as students are successful or unsuccessful in making the contacts needed through the web.

Alignment with Standards:

"Social studies teaching and learning are powerful when they are integrative.

Social studies is integrative in its treatment of topics.
It is integrative across time and space.
Social studies teaching integrates knowledge, skills, beliefs, values, and attitudes to action.
Social studies teaching and learning integrate effective use of technology.
Social studies teaching and learning integrate across the curriculum."

Taken from  National Council for the Social Studies

To learn more about the National Council for the Social Studies National Standards for Social Studies Teachers, visit their home page NCSS

For more information about how New Jersey compares with other states visit National Education Goals

and NewJersey

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.



Author(s): Marguerite M. Andre andre@paterson.k12.nj.us
Public School Number 15, Paterson, New Jersey  07501
Created: March 1, 1999 - Updated: April 25, 1999
URL: http://www-ed.fnal.gov/lincon/w99/projects/westhem/present.html