Friday, November 28, 2003
The Quest for the Best project was intended to be used as a culminating activity for the fourth grade social science curriculum which deals with the geographic make-up, cultural aspects, natural resources, climate and economy of the five major U.S. regions. The desired intent is that students will come to know the affect these factors have in selecting a place of residence. (Please note the regions for this project were based upon the groups established in our text book. Yours may be different.)
Students need to be placed into groups of 3. The purpose of this original group is to generate a list of criteria they will use to determine in which region they would like to live. This will not be their permanent group. These groups will be formed from students who wish to reside in the same region.
The entire project should take about four weeks. The students will generate a list of factors that will help them to decide in which region they would like to live. This list can then be shared with the entire class to create a base list for all groups to use. Groups should feel free to add other essential factors for their own group . You will need about two weeks for the students to research these critical factors.
As this is a collaborative project, they will be able to elicit expert information from other students that live in that region. In turn, they will be able to serve as an expert for the region in which they live. Students can access their region from the Blog Link. This is where they can ask questions, seek opinions, and respond. Students will also be able to comment on and post resources they have found on their own which may be helpful to others. The last week will be spent creating their final project.
Obtaining sufficient computer time may present a challenge for some teachers. I have six computers in my classroom in addition to a lab. If computer time is a factor, there are a few things you can do to cut down on access time. Find a wide variety of library resources for your students ahead of time and bring them into your classroom. This will allow you to rotate groups to search on the Internet. You can also create a PowerPoint template for your students. Have them do a mock-up of each slide before they work on the computer. This will save a huge amount of time that might be spent simply designing the aesthetics of presentation rather than the content.
This project focuses on writing across the content areas and integrating State of Illinois language arts, social science standards, National Education Technology Standards and the National Geography standards. There are other skill areas not covered in this activity which should be addressed in order to attain the full benefits of this project: peer editing, blog and Internet etiquette, Internet search strategies, citing resources and evaluating Web sites.
The resources provided are intended to help you with everything you need to participate in the project. Please understand that you will not need to create your own blog or any type of web page. Simply use the forms and resource materials available directly from this project. But I sincerely hope this will spark an idea for you to create one of your own!
The final project requires students to prepare a HyperStudio or PowerPoint presentation or write a "Missing Information" chapter for their region. If you do not have PowerPoint available, you can download a free, open source program called Open Office.
You will find rubrics to evaluate project participation and the different final projects. It is critical that students are well aware of how they will be assessed. It is equally important for them to evaluate themselves.
If we are to prepare our students for the 21st Century, it is critical that we give them the necessary tools to do so. This project gives students the opportunity to use 21st Century technology to write for an authentic audience and collaborate with people outside their local community.
I hope you and your students will enjoy collaborating, sharing expertise and coming to know more about the U.S. and yourselves. Be sure to email me your PowerPoint presentations and Missing Information chapters (final projects). I will post these for all to see!
Please feel free to email me if you have any questions