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& the Internet
Lessons on Line
Think the project through. Are the project's
clear? What do you want the students to learn from the
Will students use class time or out of class time to complete the
Is the equipment available? Are there alternate assignments to
from. Is this independent work or group work? How much of
grade will the project account for? How will it be graded?
Some on-line projects already address these criteria.
Plan what you want the students to know.
When giving the assignment for research, it is important to either have
a list of questions to be answered or have the kids generate the
they need to research. If they have certain questions to research
rather than just a "report on" scenario, they're less likely to copy
for word. And even if they do copy word for word, it's a sentence
from here and a sentence from there, not an entire encyclopedia entry.
Examples: Fifth graders research animals from
habitats. They generate certain questions: Where does
the animal live? What does the animal eat? What does
the animal look like?
Give Instruction on how to record the
Use a graphic organizer of some type, like a web, to record the
information that answers the questions. Students should not be
to write whole sentences while taking notes - this will force them to
their own words later. Progress is checked along the way and
should be given for note taking as well as the final product. If
you allow the students to copy and paste text or graphics, they should
be able to take notes from the information onto note cards or a graphic
organizer. This will help them put the ideas together to complete
the project. (See the Student Instruction Sheet)
Example: The seventh graders research
scientists, but the focus is a cause/effect essay not just a "report
so-and-so. The kids must answer the question: What impact has
scientist had on the world or her field of science.
Create/use an Internet project where:
- The topic is specific/narrow - with guiding
write a report on---)
- There are eight or ten questions your students
using data located on a specific web site (brainstorm or teacher
- The internet sources are kept to a
Web site or Home Page is sufficient
- Note taking strategies can be taught.
of paper with the questions written on the top, an answer sheet to be
or other graphic organizers will be used)
- Only information that answers the question(s)
on a note card is allowed
- Students take notes only on information that
- Where notes should not be whole sentences.
Understand what Problem Based Learning is before using
one already written on the Internet.
(Adapted from Stepien, W.J. and Gallagher, S.A. 1993. "Problem-based
As Authentic as it Gets." Educational Leadership. 50(7) 25-8 and
H. (1985) Designing a Problem Based Curriculum for the Pre-Clinical
- Problem Based Learning is a curriculum
system that recognizes: 1) the need to develop problem solving
2) the necessity of helping students to acquire necessary knowledge and
- It is in the process of struggling with actual
students learn both content and critical thinking skills.
- Problem based learning has several distinct
which may be identified and utilized in designing such curriculum.
- Problems drive the curriculum - the problems do not test
in development of the skills themselves.
- Problems are truly open-structured - there is not meant to be
- Students solve the problems - teachers are coaches and
- Students are only given guidelines for how to approach
problems - there
is no one formula for student approaches to the problem.
- Authentic, performance based assessment - is a seamless part
and end of
Getting Started: Research or Problem Based?
1. In a Problem Based Learning Activity a
2. Students are directed to come up with a
to the problem based upon research.
3. Each student in the class may be assigned
same or a different segment of the problem to research and all research
is reported on to the class for final discussion and analysis.
4. The questions needing to be answered may be
for each student or group, but the final outcome needs to be a
solution to the original problem.
5. The way the problem is stated
how the assignment is done.
Example: A regular research project,
problem solving, would look like this:
A seventh grade class, studying the history of Islam,
is asked to pretend to be Muslims and plan a trip to Mecca as part of
Hajj, or Fifth Pillar of Islam.
Example: In A Problem-Based Learning
the class is the same and the information to be found is the
But, to make the lesson truly problem based, the directions and the
change (but what is learned does not):
- The teacher may create the questions to
a question sheet, or chart -- (How much will it cost? Where will
you stay? How will you get there? Where will you
from? Where do you arrive? What should you bring with
Do you need a visa? Shots? What is Saudi Arabia like?
How does the culture of Saudi Arabia differ from California
What is the weather like? Why are you going? What will you do
you get there? How long will you stay? Who will go with
- The students may create (brainstorm) the
probably would come up with much the same questions)
- The class can be divided up into groups and/or
1. Everyone researches all the questions
and puts the best answers together for the group.
2. Different groups research different
then the groups put all the information together into a class packet
3. Groups divide into individual jobs and
at different web sites to answer the same questions
- However the questions are created and whatever
researches (all the questions, some of the questions), note taking is
same. Only the answer to the question being researched is
not in sentence form.
See SCORE Social Studies
for grade level, problem based learning lessons.
- The class is told that each group is a travel
asked to plan a Hajj to Mecca for a large group. Since a limited
amount of money is available and ease of getting to Mecca is very
to the group, as well as the need to know what to do, what to take, how
to prepare, etc., the group with the best price and best information
the traveler will get the order (and profit). (An outside
or invited parents should hear the final reports and make a decision
upon the information presented.)
- Now the questions are still generated (by
but the final outcome is not to answer the questions but to come up
a proposal to sell the travel agency's plan for the trip.
- If the problem is not to research about the
can get there the cheapest, safest and most prepared, then a contest as
to which group has the best information spurs the class on. Each
group would then own its information (not share it with a friend in
group, etc.) and present it to the judge(s) to convince the travelers
it should get the order to plan and arrange the trip.
Questions? email Gina Otto at either: firstname.lastname@example.org
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