Edutopia on Facebook
Edutopia on Twitter
Edutopia on Google+
Edutopia on Pinterest Follow Me on Pinterest
WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

PBL Camp: Grades 3-5 (Week 1)

PBL Camp: Grades 3-5 (Week 1)

Related Tags: Project-Based Learning
More Related Discussions
90 Replies 1248 Views
How will you make the oil spill relevant to your students? This is our brainstorming thread for the upper elementary group. Any and all ideas and thoughts welcome!

Comments (90 Replies)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Tracy Hanson's picture
Tracy Hanson
K12 Next Generation, Director

I teach in a K-8 virtual school so I am looking at this across the grades. Because we are virtual, our enrollement is open to children nationally as well as internationally. It seems that this is a good opportunity to look at how this disaster, which happened in the Gulf, can effect the world. Have any of the students been through a disaster that has changed the lives in their community? We had a major flood 5 years ago that killed 5 and changed the landscape drastically. We are just recovering from it. How does that disaster relate to the Gulf Spill? What strategies were used to help our community? Could any of them be used to help here? Who is effected by this and why? Is it a localized disaster as our flood was or is it more far-reaching? Could either have been prevented? Is there blame to such a disaster? Charting something they've lived through with what they learn researching the spill might help them identify more closely with what is happening in the Gulf.

KarenG's picture
3rd grade teacher in Doha, Qatar

An addition to the aquarium idea would be to take some bird feathers and put them in the oily water and observe and compare them to other dry or just wet feathers. A further extension could be exploring ways to clean them, remembering they'd be on a live animal.

sky's picture
Elementary school teacher in D.C. Metro area

I taught science and social studies exclusively this past school year, but I'll now be switching to math. I will introduce the topic in this new school year in general terms, but then integrate frequent oil spill updates with our particular math focus.

shayles's picture
Technology Coordinator and Teacher 2-6

Hi, I'd like to build a project for 5th grade. In 5th grade technology we spend one term learning about Media Literacy that leads into exploration of how camera shots can help tell a story and the building of a video PSA or commercial during the following term. I'm wondering if the power of images wouldn't be an interesting angle to an Oil Spill PBL - culminating with student team produced videos on different focus groups experiences and reactions to the situation.

Barbara Johnson's picture
Barbara Johnson
4th grade teacher

Interesting idea, Libby, about introducing students to our use/need for oil. I think 3-5 students need to understand the connection between the crude oil in the gulf and our use for oil.

Shirley Farrell's picture

I am writing a concept-based unit for gifted pullout classes in grades 3-5. The culminating performance task is project/problem based. My conceptual lens is Systems.

Ways to make the oil spill relevant to students- no matter where you live:

1. Children love animals. There is so much information about the birds, turtles, dolphins, and whales that would "hook" and engage students. Also, did you know there are manatees that migrate through the Gulf from Florida to Alabama? There are some great posters and curricula from the Mineral Management Service (now called the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement (BOEMRE). This link lists all the education materials available. http://www.gomr.mms.gov/homepg/lagniapp/Ocean-Science-into-Classroom.pdf

2. Back to birds. Everyone can set out bird feeders. Children can observe local birds but then propose the questions about migration. Many birds east of the Rockies will migrate through the Gulf coast region. What will happen to them? What obstacles will these birds face as they migrate south- and then what may happen when they migrate North again?

3. Did you know 73% of the shrimp sold in the US comes from the Gulf of Mexico? Discussions on favorite foods/ favorite seafood, etc. could lead to where will be obtain our shrimp now.

4. Many Alabama children have been upset because summers are spent on the beach. Vacation plans have been altered or families went to their usual vacation spots hoping for the best. Discussions about favorite places and what if something happened to them could lead students to think about the beaches along the coast. Spring Break in the east brings images of going to the gulf coast area, too.

Barbara Johnson's picture
Barbara Johnson
4th grade teacher

Making a topic relevant means (to me) making it real for the students--tangible. We live in suburban Philadelphia so the gulf coast is a distance place they hear about in the news and crude oil and refining is a sound byte. Our science curriculum is in revision and one of our topics will be ecosystems (via Foss kit) which lends itself to the oil spill.

Brainstorming (suggestion wanted):
Frame PBL experience around systems-ecosystems, water systems, economic systems
-test local water (streams) before and after storms/compare
-explore ecosystems and independence (relate to oceans)
-explore energy dependence and that systems
-PR person from local refinery to talk to students (show them crude oil?)
-on a community level, how can we make positive changes?

Moving through Awareness to Advocacy?
Thoughts? Input? thx

Lori Smith's picture
Lori Smith
First Year Teacher in Colorado

That is a terrific idea...you could do experiments in water with both oil spil and regular feathers for a compare and contrast lesson!



Kristi Brown's picture

The oil spill is definitely relevant for my gifted students. We live in Gulf Breeze, FL which is adjacent to Pensacola Beach. The kids are living with this disaster every day.

Everyone is sharing awesome ideas. One thing I would like to explore with my students are the different ways to protect our shores and our wildlife. Many ideas have been brainstormed including using hair, hay, etc. I think it would be interesting for students to come up with ideas and test their ideas to see which methods of oil collection/absorption might work best. Also, I think it is important to research the results of the Exxon Valdez incident and its effects on the environment. How might that relate to the Gulf.

Kristin Hoins's picture
Kristin Hoins
Technology Teacher Grades 4-6

Each year Telluride hosts a film festival called the Mountain Film Festival http://mountainfilm.org that screens a powerful selection of documentaries. This years' theme was celebrating the indomitable spirit and I viewed three amazing documentaries: Bag It (plastics impact on us and our world), Gasland (frakings impact on our fresh water), and Wasteland (an artistic look at garbage and those who collect recyclables in Brazil). I would like to launch a project in which we use launch pads such as these documentaries and the oil spill media to give students choice in a topic. Then, collaborate with other students to form global teams to research and develop a blog or ning that merges information researched, advocacy ideas, action steps, philanthropy opportunities or where ever the students' passion takes them together. The culminating project could be a digital piece that is aired on the interweb, local television, at Mountain Film. Another idea could be that the culminating project could be submitted as part of Oracle's Thinkquest competition. This is a larger project in that you start in August/September and submit a finished project in March. Either way, this type of collaboration would be year long but a blog or ning could offer us a chance to bring in experts for video conferencing and pool together links and student learning in a central location. The audience is authentic an the topic relevant on a broader scale. I'm talking about teams or groups that are in grades 4-6. This could be an enrichment project where teams are formed based on interest to make multi-age teams. Anyone interested?

Sign in and Join the Discussion! Not a member? Register to join the discussion.