The Three Gorges Dam Activity: For Teachers
ObjectivesIf you visit the Objectives Page, you can see that we have listed 5 objectives:
Another important purpose of this activity is to teach students about both the power and the potential for danger that the internet possesses as a research tool. Just as there are a lot of quality sites floating around out there on the World Wide Web, there are at least an equal number of not-so-quality sites. The discerning internet user should be able to decide whether a source can be "trusted" implicitly--and whether it must be taken "with a grain of salt." With the explosion of reference and information-rich sites on the web, these skills are becoming more and more important.
In addition, students learn the skill of presentation. The internet is filled with colorful, flashing gimmicks, animated logos, sound files, etc., all designed to catch the passing web surfer's fickle attention for a brief instant. In this sort of a medium, awareness of layout, color, and balance of text and images is very important for a website's success. Also, students are taught the importance of citing sources--the internet facilitates plagiarism due to the ease of "copy-pasting" directly from a webpage into a report. Students must learn that this is unacceptable and that credit must be given where it is due.
Finally, this activity stresses basic internet literacy. By successfully completing the tutorial, students learn the following skills:
C/T8.2 The student will communicate through networks and telecommunication. * Use local and worldwide network communication systems. * Develop hypermedia - home page - documents that can be accessed by worldwide networks. C/T8.4 The student will process, store, retrieve, and transmit electronic information. * Use search strategies to retrieve electronic information. * Use electronic encyclopedias, almanacs, indexes, and catalogs to retrieve and select relevant information. * Use laser discs with a computer in an interactive mode. * Use local and wide-area networks and modem-delivered services to access and retrieve information from electronic databases. * Use databases to perform research.
In addition, the Virginia SOLs define geography instruction as follows:
"The goal of geography instruction is to provide an understanding of the human and physical characteristics of the earth's places and regions, how people of different cultural backgrounds interact with their environment, and how the United States and the student's home community are affected by conditions and events in distant places. Geographic themes include location, place, human environment, movement, and region." --http://www.pen.k12.va.us/go/Sols/history.html
By choosing the Three Gorges Dam scenario it was our intention to try and address as many of the geography stipulations as possible. Geography cannot be thought of as merely the memorization of countries and their capitals, as shown by the geography SOLs. Instead, it is the study of the relationships between geographic location, culture, peoples, etc. and must be studied integratively with other disciplines. In the Three Gorges Dam scenario, students must look at the problem from many different angles in order to successfully defend a solution.
Classroom Implementation SuggestionsThe Three Gorges Dam scenario is perfect for classroom implementation for several reasons:
There are several potential ways to implement the Three Gorges activity into your course. Of course the optimal method is to have each student work individually on his or her own webpage; however, it is understandable that there are often limitations on the number of computers available to students. The activity would also work well for students in small groups. Usually the difficulty with group work is that one or two people shoulder most of the burden while the others perhaps don't contribute their share. However, with the Three Gorges Dam scenario, this problem can be avoided by having each person in the group write a different page of the finished product. That way all the members can benefit equally from the activity. If lack of computers is still a concern, encouraging students to use offline resources is an excellent idea. The reason print materials such as periodicals and encyclopedias are not stressed in the Three Gorges activity is because we wanted our main emphasis to be on new technology; however, more "traditional" sources can prove to be just as helpful as websites when researching a problem.
Evaluation of the finished webpages should be rather painless as well. Either you as the teacher could look through the sites and assign grades based on fulfillment of the objectives outlined above, or the students themselves could engage in peer review; simply have each of the student's (or group of students') webpages on the screen and have the class cycle around and look for certain key elements such as focus, clarity, persuasiveness, etc. For more quantitative evaluations, there are two reading quizzes located Here that give percentage scores. In addition, there are several optional items on the site that could be used as extra credit: these include the ability to submit links, be added to the global database, submit a comment on the message board, and be judged to have the best webpage about the Three Gorges Dam. All of these options do credit individual students (as long as they choose to write their names) so it would be simple enough to check the site and confirm whether a student truly did submit an idea to the message board, for instance.
For more ideas or questions about how to implement this site into your curriculum, please email us.