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Impact II: Projects & Lesson Plans: Fishing for Math, Science, and Social Studies

HOW IT WORKS
Fishing for Math, Science, and Social Studies is an interdisciplinary program that links curriculum from those three subjects to help develop literacy among ESL students. The program allows them to understand how stories, ideas, and methods from Native American cultures can be scientifically explained and validated. Students are first exposed to stories about Native Americans, specifically the story about the Indian Squanto and how he helped the Pilgrims grow better crops by planting fish remains along with the seeds. Then they are asked to write about Squanto and explain how he helped the Pilgrims survive. Afterwards, students test Squanto’s method of soil fertilization by conducting experiments in which some seeds are watered with tap water while others are watered with fish tank water. They monitor the growth over several weeks and display information in the form of graphs, tables, and drawings. While investigating the increased growth of the fishtank-watered plants, students contact various “experts” in the community via telephone, the Internet, letters, and visits. Some of the contact locations are the Alley Pond Environmental Center, the  New York Hall of Science, the Queens Botanical Gardens, and local garden shops. They then conduct additional experiments with water and soil testing kits to find what additional nutrients are found in the fish tank water. Follow-up activities include integrating the knowledge obtained into a class project. Through this program, students see the importance of recycling, conservation, ecosystems, and interdependence among living organisms.

THE STUDENTS
The initial participating class was made up of 20 third grade ESL students (P.S. 11Q). The hands-on approach helps to enhance their language skills while at the same time integrates math, science, and social studies curricula in an authentic learning experience.

THE STAFF
Mary Ahern has been teaching ESL since 1992. Prior to teaching, she worked as an International Sales Manager. She understands that most employers are looking for problem solvers and team players. She tries to instill these qualities in her students.

WHAT YOU NEED
This program uses picture books and videos about Native Americans and the Pilgrims such as Squanto, Friend of the Pilgrims by Clyde Robert Pulla and Squanto and the First Thanksgiving (video) by Eric Metaxas. The program builds upon previous learning activities about fish, digestive systems, nutrients, seeds, ecosystems, recycling, graphing, and letter writing. It also requires a classroom aquarium (with fish, tadpoles, or both), planting materials (seeds, soil, and pots), a computer with access to the Internet, measuring tools, a camera, soil/water testing kits, and various materials for recording and graphing results.

There will also be a class trip to the Queens Botanical Gardens, the New York Hall of Science, and local gardening and florist shops.

OVERALL VALUE
Fishing for Math, Science, and Social Studies is an interdisciplinary approach to learning. The program allows the students to observe, record, investigate, and communicate with a purpose. All of the children, regardless of language ability, are able to learn together through the use of hands-on activities and cooperative learning. The program engages the learners and encourages them to be researchers, investigators, and problem solvers. Students participating in this project won Second Honors in the 1999-2000 District 30 Science Fair. The program can be easily adapted to any classroom.

Mary Ahern's
Dissemination Packet

(pdf file: requires Adobe Acrobat Reader).

CURRICULUM AREAS
Science
Math
Social Studies
Language Arts
Technology
ESL

GRADES
Grade 3-6

MORE INFORMATION

Mary M. Ahern
P. S. 4 0 Q
109-20 Union Hall Street
Jamaica, NY 11433
718-526-1904
Fax: 718-297-1631
mma718@aol.com

 

IMPACT II Catalog 2000-2001
(pdf file: requires
Adobe Acrobat Reader).

 

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