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TeachNet NYC: Lesson Plans

Operation Desert Learn

Project URL: http://teachersnetwork.org/teachnet-lab/ps101/bglasgold/

How it works:
This program contains a set of lessons on the desert as one of Earth's seven major biomes. With the help of the Internet, students travel from the blazing hot sand dunes of the Sahara, to the cold Gobi Desert, to the rugged beauty of the Mojave Desert. Students become familiar with factors that contribute to the creation of deserts, and where the deserts are located. They learn the adaptations both plants and animals have had to make in order to survive in such harsh extremes of climate. They learn about the various people who have made the desert their home and how they have adapted to the desert conditions. The technology part of each lesson is integral to the teaching of this unit. It provides pictures of the different types of deserts and gives students practice using the computer as a tool for graphing and creating webs.

Standards addressed:  
Students demonstrate an understanding of: organisms and their environments, how things change over time, the physical positions on Earth, and the Earth's biodiversity. They write an informative  report, use scientific notation for writing of experiments, and demonstrate an understanding of graphs.

Materials used:
The materials needed to teach this unit include computers, printers, software such as Microsoft Word or AppleWorks. Access to the Internet is a must. Digital cameras are great for documenting the students at work. Books such as Our Planet: Deserts by Richard Stephen, Wonders of the Desert by Louis Sabin, What Is a Biome? by Bobbie Kalman, and What Are Food Chains and Webs?  by Bobbie Kalman are useful, as is the video "Desert: Eyewitness Video." National Geographic magazine has articles on the desert on a regular basis. 

The students:
This program is for third to fourth graders and can be adapted upwards. The students should be of average ability with a working knowledge of the computer and the Internet, and should know how to work in cooperative groups.

Overall value:
The best feature of Operation Desert Learn is the use of the Internet and the various computer web sites. It enables students to travel through the deserts of the world without leaving their seats! One innovative aspect is the use of the computer to graph some of the assignments in the lessons. Teachers will want to adapt this in their own classroom because it is a comprehensive look at the desert and easily followed. It includes two hands-on science experiments to illustrate the concepts taught.

Make sure you have checked all web sites to see that they are current and active before you assign the students to the computer. Try to have books and pictures for further motivation. The children should have some experience on the computer and using the Internet.


About the teacher:
Bonnie Glasgold is a Science Enrichment teacher in P.S. 101 in Brooklyn, New York. She has been teaching science enrichment for the last eight years and has been a New York City teacher for 22 years. She has been a member of TeachNet for three years, and this is her third unit on biomes of the world.

E-mail: bmglas@aol.com

Subject Areas: 

Grade Levels: 



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