Grand Canyon - Project Description
Project Summary - The Grand Canyon is a web site project developed by a team of four students. Alysha and Rachel are fifth graders at Fairfield Elementary School in Eugene, Oregon. Callie and Courtney are fourth graders at Red Mountain Ranch Elementary School in Mesa, Arizona. My student, Alysha had developed an extensive web site project last year with a team of students from Anchorage, Alaska. In September, l998 she expressed a desire to develop another project this year. As part of the ongoing process to work towards completing Oregon Benchmark Standards, all students in my classes work on projects which address many of the content areas. I support my students in the endeavor of individual projects. The process that students go through in the develpment of the project is almost more valuable than the end product which they create.
Project Planning Process - Alysha and began to discuss this project in early September. We selected another student in our class for Alysha to work with and they began to explore possible topics. When they decided that they wanted to research and share their knowledge of The Grand Canyon, they asked if I could help them find partners in Arizona. The Grand Canyon is located in Arizona. Our class has keypals in Mesa, Arizona so we contacted them and selected two students, Callie and Courtney to work with Rachel and Alysha. They began their research by going to the school and city Libraries and continued by searching the Internet. As others learned about their project, people would bring them magazine articles and information about the Canyon they had come across. The girls then began to creat storyboards, sketching out their project. Our District TAG Coordinator assisted the girls by meeting with them two hours a week starting in January, helping them learn the technological skills necessary to complete their project and assisting us with troubleshooting. We kept a weekly log of activities, in effect creating a journal. By mid January the girls began to actually build the web pages. They used a scanner, digital camera and learned to download from the internet.
This is my second project working with partners who live in another geographic location. Communicating just over the net presents a whole new set of obstacles to overcome. Callie's and Courrney's parents and teacher were invaluable in the ongoing process. I had the opportunity to fly down and meet with Callie and Courney at their school and work with them for one day. That time was especially helpful. To be able to visually plan the project storyboard contributed towards a smoother project. Regardless of the visit we still had nerve wracking problems as we began to send files back and forth. Images would arrive unreadable and text would be in what at times seemed to us a foreign code. The most frantic message from Arizona came in the last few days when Callie and Courtney were sending us the last of their pages. They were receiving the message, cannot send without a data fork. Late in the evening who on earth knows what a data fork is? Our goal was to have the project completed by early March. I have learned from prior experience that projects this large actually take about three weeks longer than you plan. Always allow yourself and the students a safety margin of time.
Project Goals Addressed Through This Project -The student objective for this project included both the process of development and the completion of the end product; the web site. The process included work towards Benchmark Standards and the product is a Benchmark scored work sample that becomes part of their student portfolios. Specific Oregon Benchmark Standards (Grade ) addressed by the project are:
Ask questions and make predictions that are based on observations and can be explored through simple investigations.
Design an investigation to answer questions or check predictions.
Collect, organize, and summarize data from investigations.
Analyze, interpret, and summarize data from investigations.
Locate information and clarify meaning by using illustrations, tables of contents, glossaries, indexes, graphs, charts, diagrams, and/or tables.
Identify relationships, images, patterns, or symbols and draw conclusions about their meanings in printed material.
Analyze and evaluate information and form conclusions.
Convey clear main ideas and supporting details in ways appropriate to topic, audience, and purpose.
Use correct spelling, grammar, punctuation, capitalizations, and paragraphing.
Social Science Analysis
Examine an event ,issue, or problem through inquiry and research.
Gather, use and document information from multiple sources.
Explain characteristics of an event, issue, or problem, suggesting possible causes and results.
Identify a response or solution, and explain why it makes sense, using support from research.
Social Science - Civics and Government
Identify how citizens can make their voices heard responsibly in the political process.
Assessment: The end product is evaluated using the Oregon Speaking and Writing scoring guides. Rachel and Alysha will present their project orally to their classmates. Also, the storyboards which the girls created are a valuable tool in performing assessment of the standards. Conversations with the girls as they worked on their project provided me with a understanding of their level of growth and the develpment of the skills they have gained as they went through this process of creation.
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