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TeachNet NYC: Lesson Plans
A Virtual Tour of Brazil

Project URL: http://teachersnetwork.org/teachnet-lab/ps101/chornik/travelcontents.htm 

How it works:
This is a fifth grade social studies unit about life in Brazil .  Working in cooperative learning groups, the students create a class virtual travel brochure.  Roles include: researchers who find information using Web sites chosen by the teacher, a recorder who sets down the information found by the researchers (using a word processing application such as Student Writing Center or Microsoft Word), illustrators who locate online photos (from prescreened sites) or create illustrations researched by the group (using a drawing and painting application such as Kidpix), reporters who share the information with the class in oral and written reports, and web designers who place the textual information and graphics onto a site for the virtual brochure. Topics include: Brazil 's location, geography, climate, government, economy, people, education system, natural resources, and important sights. The time frame for this unit is three months.

Standards addressed:  
A Virtual Tour of Brazil focuses on economic/geographic, social, cultural, political, and historic elements of South America . It develops proficiency in using the Internet as a research tool. Students produce and share written and oral reports; participate in group meetings; and use maps and other geographic representations, tools, and technologies to acquire, process, and report information.
They learn how geographical and topographical factors result in varying climates, and understand of how the a region's climate affects it's economy and way of life. They interpret graphs and charts;  focus on the social and cultural elements of a Latin American country; understand how people in various regions affect/are affected by their physical environment; explain technology's impact on the environment, economy, and people; and describe how people of diverse cultural backgrounds in the Western Hemisphere influenced each other.

Materials used:
A computer with Internet access is required, along with a printer and software programs that include Microsoft FrontPage, Kidpix, AppleWorks, and Student Writing Center .

The students:
This program is designed for fifth graders of average ability, but it can be adapted for higher grades. Some of the students are second-language learners. Research, word processing, editing, and web-authoring skills are reinforced during this unit.

Overall value:
A Virtual Tour of Brazil allows students to feel the excitement and wonder of traveling to and learning about another country while developing valuable skills. The thrill of seeing their published Web pages online is a great motivator and an excellent way of sharing projects the students do with the parent community.
A follow-up unit to this might be one in which students plan a trip to Brazil, calculate expenses, and comparison-shop for hotels, travel expenses, entertainment, etc.

Carolyn Hornik has been a New York City public school teacher for twenty five years (12 years as a classroom teacher in third, fourth, and fifth grades and 13 years as a technology coordinator.) She teaches in-service courses for the New York City Board of Education After School Professional Development Program and on-line courses for new teachers through Teachers Network.


Estimated Class Periods To Complete: 10 or more

Subject: English, Social Studies

Beginning Grade Level: 4

Ending Grade Level: 8



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