Reflections and Tips
1. Use professionals such as your local agricultural commissionerís office, farm advisors office, University Extension office and forestry department to help with resources and insect/tree identification.
2. If you have a computer aide or technician to help with the technology aspect of the project, this can often cut down on stress yet make sure that the kidís are following your protocol and have a clear understanding of what task needs to be finished with clear deadlines.
3. Check all work periodically to check for understanding. Make sure that the students understand the value of surveying a population for a long period of time. Take the time to analyze data with the class throughout the survey in order to point out changes in the population and reasons for these changes.
4. Be prepared for computer problems. Use that time to focus on investigative/scientific aspects of the project. One year I couldnít get on my computers for a month due to a virus.
5. If your school has a map used for fire escape routes, make a copy and let students use it as their template for their map rough draft. Making their own map is time consuming and often less accurate. The ultimate goal is to put the map on the computer so give them a good start.
6. Donít assume that your students have all of the basic skills such a graphing, using the Internet, etc. Definitely review these skills before starting your PowerPoint projects. One of my most frustrating concepts to teach is getting students to understand why we graph the data and what it means.
7. Leave yourself enough time at the end of the year to allow all students to present and save PowerPoint projects.
8. Be prepared to adapt to any situation that may occur such as weather changes, sprinklers, vandalism, weed whacking to name a few.
9. If students canít view their projects on their computer at home, make sure that they know that they can download some sort of reader from the Internet. If they donít have a computer, let them print out a hard copy for their portfolio.
10. Investigating the Oak Community by the California Oak Foundation is a fabulous resource for oak studies. Donít reinvent the wheel!
Special Needs Students
My students needed more time and or extra help depending on their technology skills. I have found that they really do well with this project since it goes for a long period of time, is "hands on" science and computer generated. It is broken up into exercises and sections
so that it is not too much information at one time. Some students discussed verbally with me what they were trying to say and I helped them type in these ideas especially students with language acquisition difficulties. This unit is a natural SDAIE lesson so it fits all realms of language acquisition.
I have used my outside resources (UCSB and Sedgwick Reserve) to extend student learning beyond the classroom learning if students are interested. Due to the flexibility of this project these students are encouraged to expand their investigation and experimentation by adding more detail, mentoring other students and exploring more advanced scientific concepts.
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