Planning to Teach an Environmental Technology Project
Over the next few months, I am going to be teaching TechnoEnvironment as a guest instructor to a group of Grade 8 students at a local private faith-based school. TechnoEnvironment is a new TechnoKids technology project that focuses on environmental stewardship. After each class, I will take a moment to reflect on the experience. I will outline the things that went well, challenges to overcome, and offer tips in the form of teaching strategies.
About the Plan to Teach TechnoEnvironment
At the school where I am teaching the TechnoKids projects are selected in advance. There are many split grades. For this reason, to avoid duplication, all Grade 7 and 8 students complete the same projects in Year 1 (TechnoHTML, TechnoInvestor, TechnoNovel). In Year 2, the students complete a new set of projects (TechnoEzine, TechnoCommercial, TechnoMission). The rotation then begins again.
This project rotation system has worked very well. TechnoEnvironment is new to the rotation of projects. It will not only be taught to the Grade 8 students I am working with, but also with a class of Grade 7/8 and Grade 7 students.
Develop a Schedule
Since there are so many classes doing the same technology project, it was important that a schedule be developed to keep instruction similar for all students. I sat down and reviewed the assignments in the technology project. The project was to begin in September and end in December. Each class would receive instruction once a week for forty five minutes.
Before I could begin the schedule, I had to consider one of the biggest challenges to this technology project, which is the time consuming nature of research. Often environmental information sources are not designed for children and can be difficult for them to understand. Moreover, there can be a lot of misinformation on the Internet. I asked the classroom teachers if we could use the research sheets provided by TechnoKids as this would be a time saver. This option was declined as it was preferred that students select a topic of their choice and conduct their own research. To find quality information I decided that the students should use the online encyclopedia that the school subscribes to each year as a starting point for collecting facts. I checked a list of environmental topics and the encyclopedia had excellent articles.
I had a look at the calendar and began to develop a schedule. I decided I wanted the students to complete the postcard, poster, and pamphlet. As well, I selected two of my favorite extension activities, which were the Environmental Map and the Environmental Banner. I was thoughtful about the schedule. I placed the extension activities in strategic places which would permit me to remove them from the schedule if more time was required to complete a previous activity. I also left a period in December free, just in case the project ran a bit longer.
Proposed Schedule of Environmental Activities
The schedule had the following structure:
- Class 1: Introduction to TechnoEnvironment – Assignments 1-2
- Class 2: Research Continues/Gather Pictures – Assignments 2, 4
- Class 3: Examine a Solution – Assignment 3
- Class 4: Postcards from the Edge – Assignment 6, 7
- Class 5: Environmental Map – Session 2 Extension Activity
- Class 6: Help Wanted Poster – Assignment 8
- Class 7: Pamphlet – Educate the Public – Assignment 9, 10
- Class 8: Pamphlet – Explain the Problem and Offer Solutions – Assignment 11
- Class 9: Pamphlet – Examine a Solution – Assignment 12
- Class 10: Pamphlet – Design a Quiz – Assignment 13
- Class 11: Pamphlet – Edit and Print the Publication – Assignment 14
- Class 12: Create a Banner – Session 4 Extension Activity
- Class 13: Environmental Conference – Share Work
- Class 14: TechnoEnvironment
Adjustments to the Plan
I sent the schedule off to the classroom teachers for review. Immediately, my plans were foiled. There were two periods where students would not be attending class. I thought, “Oh no! There goes my favorite extension activities!” I readjusted the schedule again, but was disappointed with the result. I wanted all the research to be completed by the end of September, but it would now go into October.
I resolved to have all research completed by October 6th. I knew that the Grade 8 students had completed many TechnoKids technology projects over the years. They had experience conducting Internet research. I decided that I would minimize the amount of instruction given about how to research using the Internet as outlined in Assignments 2 and 4 of TechnoEnvironment. Instead, to save time, I thought I would simply complete a brief review of the Internet skills required. It was my hope this would allow the students to spend their time focused on research instead of wasting instructional time teaching something they likely already knew.
I now have a plan! I will let you know how it translates into the real world of classroom teaching. Where, as you likely already know, the unexpected happens all the time!
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