01/27/2010
My Voice My Community
English language learners share their knowledge about the causes of water pollution

NID projects address problems that concern students

The story of Robert Rivera's 4th grade class' project about water pollutin illustrates the power of NID's "My Voice" process to engage students in their own learning.

Robert Rivera often uses technology to motivate and inspire his 4th grade students, many of whom are English language learners. He adapted one of NID’s signature activities – “If I could change one thing in the world” – to an on-line blog where students could write about the social issues that most concerned them. This writing activity helped get the conversation started.

By watching videos online though “Discovery Education: covering air, land and water pollution (“Junior Education Scientists” series), they were able to learn more about topics that interested them.

They then worked on webquests (“The Air we Share,” “Saving Polluterville” and “Land Pollution”) to continue their research on the three types of pollution before using Doodle – an on-line survey tool – to narrow the field down to their final topic: water pollution.

Their community partner was educator Ellen Schultz, who staffs the Fairmount Water Works’ Interpretive Center. She helped the students hone their understanding of water pollution through research, discussions, reading, and various curricula activities found on websites. The class also visited the Interpretive Center to see first-hand some of the water and pollution issues facing communities today.

In addition to using the School District’s “Land wand Water” program to discuss the issue, he used the Environment Protection Agency’s curriculum to develop his class’s interest in water pollution.

Motivated by their new understanding and supported by their teacher’s tech savvy, the students then got to work on the service aspect of their project: a series of podcasts that showcased what they learned. The first one was broadcast on May 1st, Earth Day.

Subsequently they created three additional podcasts. In each one the students developed the scripts and artwork and interviewed one another. Robert posted them to the School District’s web site. By mid-May the site had 781 visits, making Willard the District’s third most visited podcast site.

Click here to listen to Room 15’s Need in Deed podcasts: http://web.me.com/needindeed/Site/Three_Willard_Podcasts.html