Technology needed: Digital camera. At least one computer with PowerPoint. Printer.
How it enhanced learning: "Students are thrilled to be the authors of their own work and to explore for themselves the difference between living and non-living things."
For a lesson on living and non-living things, invite students to publish an e-book and create a slide show presentation about their findings and research. After discussing the characteristics of living vs. nonliving things with students, divide the class into groups and assign each group a short project on the subject, such as guided reading, working on a collage, drawing pictures, and so on.
One of the projects will be to create an e-book. As groups complete their assignments, they will rotate on to the next, continuing until each group has had an opportunity to try each project. For the group working on e-books, ask a parent volunteer or student teacher to take students on a short (15-20 minute) field trip in the schoolyard to scout for living and non-living things. Have students use a digital camera to photograph what they find, and take notes about whether or not — and why — it is a living or non-living thing. When students return to class, help them import their pictures from the digital camera into a PowerPoint file. Then have students write short sentences describing each of their pictures from their notes.
Create a special cover in PowerPoint for each of the groups to make an e-book. Be sure to write the name of each author and to specify if there was a "photographer" in the group. Create a separate PowerPoint file for each group. Once all the books are done, print them out and laminate them. You can also show the e-books as a PowerPoint slide show for all students to see what each group discovered on their field trips. These e-Books can be created for almost any science topic.
— Katie Long, Grade 1, Eaton Park Elementary School, Abbeville, LA, email@example.com
Technology needed: An Internet-connected computer. PowerPoint. Projector.
How it enhanced learning: "Students gained a wonderful understanding of all aspects of life on prairies."
To teach students all about prairie life (plants, animals, people, etc.), try combining PowerPoint slides and interactive Web sites to make the lesson come alive. First, create a PowerPoint presentation explaining prairies by incorporating images of various prairies, and even information about Laura Ingalls Wilder's life on a prairie, found on various Web sites. You can also integrate vocabulary about prairies in each slide of the presentation. Show the presentation to your class using a projector connected to the computer. Keep the presentation going during discussions about prairies to refer to if students have questions. Use the Web site TrackStar to develop a list of interactive Web sites on prairie habitats. See Kimbery EtiÃ©'s Web site for inspiration.
After discussing the basics of prairies with students, give each a packet of information that includes research assignments they can do using the Web sites you've located. Have students use information they gather from the Web sites to complete other hands-on activities on the topic. For example, students can locate prairie states on a map, create paper murals with the various animals and plants about which they learned, build a model prairie homestead, or create life-size prairie plants on newsprint.
— Kim EtiÃ© & Natalie Hebert, Grade 4, Eaton Park Elementary School, Abbeville, LA, firstname.lastname@example.org & email@example.com
Science Up Close
Technology needed: A digital video microscope. A projector or a TV with a large screen. An Internet-connected computer.
How it enhanced learning: "Students' interest in details was piqued by seeing enlarged images of animals."
While digital video microscopes can be costly (around $700), it is possible to get them through grants. Once a school has one microscope, it can be shared among teachers. Digital microscopes allow teachers to zoom in on minute details of specimens and magnify them onto a projector or TV monitor for the entire class to view.
For a lesson on the differences between frogs and toads, gather small frogs and toads from nearby ponds or swamps, or order them from a local pet store or pond supplier, such as Carolina Biological Supply (www.carolina.com). Have students examine the amphibians in a tank, taking notes of the differences they see with the naked eye. Then aim the microscope on one section of the frog, such as the eye, and project that on to the TV screen for the class to view. Have students take notes on what they discover. Continue to magnify different parts of the frog for students to note the similarities and differences.
In addition, create a checklist of comparisons for frogs and toads from any Web site about the amphibians (http://allaboutfrogs.org/weird/general/frogtoad.html or http://www.thelilypad.org/). Students can refer to the checklist as they examine all the different aspects of frogs and toads while the animals are in the tank and magnified on screen.
— Laura Lombas, Grade 3 Glendale Elementary School, Eunice, LA, firstname.lastname@example.org
Virtual Field Trips
Technology needed: An Internet-connected computer.
How it enhanced learning: "Since we can't get to the Galapagos Islands, this is the next best thing."
Virtual field trips allow teachers to take students on an exploration to far-off places without ever leaving class. For example, for a lesson on evolution, students can visit a Web site about the Galapagos Islands to research the life cycles and characteristics of wildlife species, such as the giant tortoise. Provide students with a written assignment to find specific information from the Web site. Once students have gathered all of their information, have them compile it in a written report with graphs, charts, diagrams, images, and details about the island, which they can gather from the Web sites. Students can also create PowerPoint presentations to share their work with classmates.
— Judith Meier, Grades 7 & 8, Vassar Junior High School, Vassar, MI, email@example.com