Explorers:  Then and Now

Jean Barber
 5th Grade/Social Studies
Payette School District

Content Area Objectives Addressed:
Upon the completion of this unit the students will be able to:
Name and discuss three reasons for exploration
Name and explain three hazards/obstacles encountered by explorers
Name five explorers; for whom they sailed, what they were looking for, what they found, and the significance of their discovery

Technology Objectives Addressed:

Primary Objectives:
The student will use the Internet to research explorers from a given list using book-marked sites.
The students will use technology to go on-line.
The students will go to book-marked sites from a social studies folder in  Favorites.
The students will navigate within the sites to investigate a topic.
The students will copy pictures, paste them into a word document, and print them .
The students will use Yahooligans to search for information on explorers.

Secondary Objectives:
Word Processing:
(We have access to Alpha Smarts that make these objectives reasonable. Access to a lab setup would also facilitate the project.)
The student will open a word processing program, create, and save a document.
The student will use a template supplied by the teacher to complete a worksheet.
The student will compose a document to fulfill the content area assignment that reflects the writing process.  The student will use the technology tools available to produce a paper in paragraph form.  The teacher will select the format: group, pairs, individually.
The student will import a picture, graphic, or clipart per teacher directions.
The student will complete a title page according to format requested by the teacher.
Database :
The student will use a database to query for information to complete a teacher-made worksheet.
The student will use the information to make a decision.

Activity Description

What was the process that your students went through to complete this lesson?
    I demonstrated the search activity on my computer to five students.  They then worked with three others for about 20 minutes and then 1 group at a time came to the computers and did their research, again for a 20 minute period – ˝ a class period.  This enabled me to put the entire class on the computers every class period.
    The students completed the guided practice and were checked by the teacher before they were allowed to go on to a paired practice and then to the independent practice.
    As the final copies came in I hung them up around the room.  Soon it was clear that we needed a way to organize material and information and I taught 5 students at a time about a database using my computer.
As soon as all the students had been through the database demo I started inputting information into our explorer database.  Ultimately I had three students in one class and two in the other who were happy to do this for us and I gladly shared the responsibility.

How did you monitor student progress?
I moved among the computers as necessary to assist and made notes on my roster on a clipboard.  The students monitored their own progress on the white board signing in under the appropriate column as they entered the room.  Those headings were:
Researching  my first explorer on the computer
Writing my summary paragraph
Peer edit/Teacher edit
Final draft
Researching my second explorer on the compute
Researching my third explorer on the computer.
I made note on my roster each day where each student was working and intervened if I did not see progress.

Was there a template or example the students were expected to follow?
The students  used  a worksheet to guide them thorough the process..

How much time did you dedicate to this project?
Total:  I cut the project off at three weeks.  I had planned a two week work session but the students were too involved to end the project.
Daily:  I have each class for 45 minutes a day.

How was the final project presented? Who was the audience for the final product?
The students made an oral presentation to the class. 


Learning Issues:

What prior knowledge was required on the part of the student in order for them to be successful in this project? (include curriculum and technology knowledge)
I had hoped for a better background than my students displayed.  Ultimately, no prior knowledge – either in curriculum  or technology – was assumed.

Resource Management

What was the student to computer ratio?
There are 6 computers in my classroom, so the ratio is roughly 4+ to 1 for students to computers.

How did you schedule your students’ computer time?
Initially, I scheduled the groups for 20 minute slots.  This was only necessary for the first two days, then, as the students signed in, they went where they needed to go – to the computer to research, to a table to write a rough draft, edit, or write their final draft.

What was the location of the computers and other technology equipment used by students?
The computers are in my classroom.

How would you suggest beginning teachers obtain computer resources for their students? (Knowing some of your strategies would be valuable for our pre-service teachers.) 
Grab every opportunity you have to learn about technology.  Apply for every grant that comes down the road.  In Idaho we are fortunate enough to have foundations like the Albertson’s Foundation which have made enormous  opportunities available. 

Rate the level of access for students to use computers/other technologies as they needed
Medium to medium high. 

Rate the level of supervision required for students during the project, specifically for computer and other technology use
Medium to medium high


What hardware was required for your project? We have the computers supplied by Bridges.

What software was required for your project? We used Internet Explorer.  We have Microsoft Office on all of my computers. 

Anything else?  The SMART Board and projector will be up and running – soon, I hope.  It is obvious that these resources could have streamlined the project for both teacher and students.


What kind of assessment did you use for this project?
For the curriculum objectives the assessment piece was three-fold:  the complete research papers, the paragraph summaries, and THE TEST.  We assessed the paragraph summaries  using the rubric. (The test was the paper I had given them on learning objectives on a different color paper, had them write “Final Test” on top and answer the questions. )

I assessed technology learning as they work working on the computers by teacher observation.
Note:  I am aware that not all the technology objectives were met.  Circumstances made the Alpha Smarts unavailable and the word processing portion of the project was omitted.


What did you like best about this project? 
I continue to love watching the lights go on.  The students far exceeded my expectations and continue to remind me to get out of the way.

What did the students like best about this project?
Ownership.  The students had a great deal of input in this project and , while they liked using the computers, I think they liked the learning even more.  The technology offers enormous opportunities that many of my students have not experienced before and they are grabbing the chance and running with it.  Truly  it does level the playing field.  Lots of technology and trained teachers offer an opportunity to students  in rural Idaho that is unequaled in my teaching career.  What at time to teach!  What a time to LEARN!

Rank the level of student involvement in this project

Rank the level of student interest in this project

Would you teach this lesson again?
Absolutely, of course, I made notes on things I would do differently and that will change with each group of students.