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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
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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!

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Holly E.'s picture
Holly E.
4/5 teacher in multi-age classroom in Charter school in Los Angeles

I teach a 4th/5th multi-age class in Los Angeles at a charter school with great curricular freedom! (so lucky) I am new to PBL after trying it on my own for the last few years.

The oil spill topic was interesting to me and will be relevant to my students most obviously by geography, being located just about 10 minutes from the Pacific Ocean. Our students visit the beach regularly and care deeply for the ocean and it's very easy for us to go and take field trips as needed.

I am very excited to get started but worry that having 30 students and only 5 antiquated computers will be a problem.

Amanda Walma's picture

Maybe focusing on the life that lives in the ocean. Maybe get an aquarium and have the kids manage it...you could put plants and fish in the aquarium. Then in a second aquarium, put plants but no fish, then put oil in the tank and show the kids what it does to the water...you could even go as far as to ask the kids to take the oil out of the water. You could have the kids tell you why animals cannot live in the second tank...and jot down what happens to the plants that are in that second tank.

Shannon Hill's picture

I like the idea of focusing on building a community. A community within our classes, town, state, and world. Have the students do community projects and invite community members to discuss their roles. This could also set your expectations and procedures at the beginning of the year. How can you help yourself and how can you help your community??? Bring in the oil spill at the end to go out with a bang. This is were you could have kids invent a way to stop the oil, build a community project, and investgate science experiments that relate etc.

Pat Curley's picture
Pat Curley
Math and Science Teacher Coach for Onslow County Schools

I have recently purchased the "Picture-perfect" science lessons from the NSTA Press. There is a great lesson plan on page 169 of the 3-6 book titled Oil-Spill and features two trade books: Prince William by Gloria Rand and Oil Spill by Melvin Berger which uses literature to introduce children to the problems of oil spills.

Shannon Wentworth's picture
Shannon Wentworth
Technology Teacher

My 5th graders have a large science unit on the environment and landforms. We will use the Gulf environment and the oil spill as our introductory lesson before students then pick other environments to study. Part of their final presentation will be to discuss a natural or man-made disaster that affects that environment and create ways to prevent/circumvent that disaster.

Shannon Wentworth's picture
Shannon Wentworth
Technology Teacher

I forgot to mention that students will create a tour of their selected environment in GoogleEarth. They will be able to embed pictures, video, text, and other information about their environment in the GoogleEarth placemark bubbles.

Donna Milner's picture
Donna Milner
Elementary Media Specialist

In our county is located the Cumberland Island National Seashore (Atlantic Ocean side of Georgia). I'm thinking about our students doing something with that habitat. Maybe the younger ones can work on protecting the sea turtles, while the older ones can work on how to protect our barrier island if the oil comes around to the Atlantic. I am a media specialist and will be teaching all grades K-5 this year for one hour one day a week so I am looking for a project that can keep enthusiasm over long stretches of time. I am hoping to connect the project to the basic curriculum in order to get the teachers involved. The topic is interesting to our students and by using the tools of PBL including the open ended question hopefully I can capture the students. If their teachers buy into it, because I masterfully connected it (who me, but how) to the core curriculum then the project will be a success.

Jane Krauss's picture
Jane Krauss
Teacher, curriculum and program developer, author, PBL facilitator, techie

[quote]I teach a 4th/5th multi-age class in Los Angeles at a charter school with great curricular freedom! (so lucky) I am new to PBL after trying it on my own for the last few years.

The oil spill topic was interesting to me and will be relevant to my students most obviously by geography, being located just about 10 minutes from the Pacific Ocean. Our students visit the beach regularly and care deeply for the ocean and it's very easy for us to go and take field trips as needed.

I am very excited to get started but worry that having 30 students and only 5 antiquated computers will be a problem.[/quote]

The 1910 Lakeview Gusher in So. Cal spewed for 17 months! Holly this disaster might make an interesting comparative study for your kids. See the LA Times article: http://www.latimes.com/news/science/environment/la-me-then-20100613,0,17...

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

I think it is important to look at the oil spill in the context of our water.  Students can connect to the importance of water if they consider how we might impact people down river. I am brainstorming ideas for grades 4-6 so the 4th graders may be looking from the persective of our watershed and wetlands area and it's connection to the Colorado River and the ocean, whereas 5th graders may be looking at a variety of ecosystems on our planet, and 6th graders thinking about food and sustainability. 

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