Star Grant Recipient
for the 1995-1996 School Year

Catherine R. Ney,
Christiansburg Elementary School


Title: "Using Technology to Integrate the Elementary Curriculum"

Funding Requested: $1,000.00


Abstract

The Congressional Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) in a report released this April stated that the integration of the curriculum is critical if technology is to be an effective educational tool. Yet, integration is difficult, time-consuming, and resource-intensive. In addition, studies show that computer-based programs at the elementary school level really only benefit two groups of students--the initially highest scoring students and students taught by the most computer-literate teachers (The Heller Report, March 1995 p.3). In light of this information, helping students and teachers use technology effectively to integrate the elementary curriculum may be the most critical aspect in assuring the maximum benefit from investments in educational technologies.

 This grant is needed to enhance and expand upon the 1994 Christa McAuliffe Project, State of Virginia, called UNITES (Using Novels for Interdisciplinary Technology Education and Science) and the NSF-funded Elementary InTech model TechnoZoo. Existing computers will be used to supply database information, including Internet connections. However, books, materials, and interactive software must be purchased. These include database programs (CD-ROM programs and videodiscs) for participants to construct habitats for the year-long "Survival" theme, the zoo habitat in particular. The project will consist of field testing activities with fifth grade students and training elementary teachers to use this model for integrating technology across the elementary curriculum. This model will be adapted and applied at different grade levels and across many content areas.

 

Background

This project is developed out of need. National studies indicate that computers and networking capabilities are essential tools of teaching today. However, little support is available to assist teachers to learn new technologies; this presents a major barrier to effective use of technology in the elementary schools (OTA, 1995). Even though MCPS now has about one computer per elementary classroom, few of these computers are being effectively used as tools of classroom instruction. MCPS is typical of the rest of the nation. The OTA finds that most teachers still report little or no use of computers for instruction. According to the OTA, the majority of teachers have had little or no training on how to use technology effectively for teaching in general, and how to use technology to integrate the elementary curriculum in particular. We must show our teachers and students not just how to operate a computer; we must train them on how to use technology to integrate instruction across the elementary curriculum. MCPS is on the leading edge of the nation with its connections to the World Wide Web via the Internet. Now we must use the greater motivational and informational potential of technology-based resources offered our students to make cross curricular connections into all subject areas.

 

Statement of Need

"Survival" is a year-long theme for upper elementary students. The "Survival" theme was developed to provide teachers with activities that challenge students to investigate and understand that survival depends on the biota-human interrelationship. Children's books and materials need to be purchased. However, purchasing books and materials alone is not enough to insure fifth graders are rigorously engaged in the learning process as problem solvers for the year. Interactive computer software is needed for students to conduct Internet searches and database inquiries from CD-ROM programs and videodiscs. This grant proposes to field test a model project for upper elementary children, ages 10 and 11. It will employ "hands-on exploration and minds-on understanding" problems generated from children's literature to give students more opportunities to become problem solvers. A year-long theme, "Survival" will be used so that children can continue to design and build using the tools of technology to make cross-curricular connections into science, mathematics, language arts, social studies, health, and even physical education, music, and art. Sixteen activities will be field tested on fifth graders. Activities include examining the physical and chemical properties of matter and applying them to solve real-world problems. Then the activity, "Design a Zoo", will be shared with MCPS elementary teachers and other interested educators throughout the state and nation. This grant proposal complies with instructional methodology guidelines delivery outlined by MCPS. Cooperative learning groups, literature-based instruction, curriculum integration, and instructional strategies will be an integral part of this project. Authentic student assessment will be documented in portfolios and manipulated task assessments will be provided students, as well as traditional testing. Hands-on science and mathematics will be key elements in assisting students and teachers in using technology resources to make interdisciplinary connections.

 A sample activity "Design a Zoo" follows to provide an overview of how the sixteen activities will be used with student and teacher participants. A riveting book, Junkyard Bandicoots & Other Tales of the World's Endangered Species, will be read to encourage participants to examine the status of animals in the wild. Their problem is: "To understand the future survival of many endangered animals, you will design and construct a zoo habitat for these animals." Participants are then grouped into cooperative teams of four. Each team is given five animals to save from extinction. Teams build their area of the zoo using the available resources. They begin researching information about the five animals assigned to their team using computer databases (CD-Rom programs and Videodiscs). Once teams have gathered information, they use mathematics to calculate the size of their animals' enclosures. They gather materials to construct their area of the zoo. The assessment component of "Design a Zoo" includes a guided tour of the zoological park by participating teams for parents and interested others. During the tour, a discussion about how this model of instruction can be adapted for multi-grade level instruction will be explored with teachers, and an explanation of how the zoo area meets the habitat requirements of its five inhabitants will be discussed with team participants.

 

Goals and Objectives

Goal 1: To enhance and expand upon existing projects and educational technologies.

 

Objective: To field test project activities from the UNITES and Elementary InTech.

Objective: To use existing educational technologies (computers and Internet).
Objective: To purchase books, materials, CD ROMs and Videodiscs.

 

Goal 2: To teach students and teachers how to use technology.

 

Objective: To use technology to integrate instruction in the elementary curriculum.

Objective: To make cross-curricular connections into all subject areas.
Objective: To apply problem-solving skills to real-world situations.

 

Goal 3: To disseminate this project beyond field-test subjects.

 

Objective: To share this project with MCPS elementary teachers.

Objective: To present this project at the state and national levels.

 

Activities and Procedures

The following activities and procedures will be implemented during the 1995-96 school year:

 

  1. Books, materials, and software programs that comply with the goals and objectives of this proposal will be purchased beginning the 1995 school year.
  2. Sixteen "Survival" activities will be field tested with fifth graders throughout the 1995-96 school year.
  3. A model activity, "Design a Zoo" will be shared with MCPS teachers.
  4. This project will be presented at state and national conferences.

Evaluation

This project will be evaluated using the following criteria:

 

  1. Documentation of students' work in portfolios.
  2. A student/parent survey on using technology for interdisciplinary instruction.
  3. A teacher survey with written comments on the effectiveness of the workshop in helping teachers use technology to integrate the elementary curriculum.

Budget

Literature
Junkyard Bandicoots (Wolkomir) - - $15.00

Mr. Archimedes' Bath (Allen) - - $12.00
Keepers of the Earth (Caduto) - - $10.00
A River Ran Wild (Cherry) - - $11.50
Magic Schoolbus at the Waterworks (Cole) - - $15.00
Julie of the Wolves (George) - - $17.50
My Side of the Mountain (George) - - $20.00
The Fledgling (Langston) - - $15.00
The Wartville Wizard (Madden) 15.00
Mad Scientist's Secret - - $10.00
Why the Whales Came - - $20.00
Call of the Wolves - - $18.00
Mrs. Risby and the Rats of NIMH - - $20.00
Hatchet - - $18.00
How to Eat Fried Worms - - $9. 00
Escape from Warsaw - - $12.50
The Sorcerer's Apprentice - - $12.00

 

Miscellaneous Materials
modeling clay - - $20.00

1-Ohaus balance scale - - $30.50
interlocking sticks - - $15.00
3-11/2 gallon flex-tanks - - $11.00
Software (CD-ROMs and Videodiscs)
Animals from A-Z (Microsoft Works) - - $52.95

Endangered Species (Bank Street School Filer) - - $52.00
Project Zoo - - $29.00
Kid's Zoo - - $49.00
San Diego Zoo Presents: The Animals (CD ROM) - - $50.00
Mammals: A Multimedia Encyclopedia (CD ROM) - - $44.95
Interactive NOVA (Videodisc) - - $395.00
Total - - $1,000.00

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