Technology In The Middle School Classroom

by Joan Marie Brown

Web-based Rainforest project involves middle school students

I teach computer classes to sixth, seventh and eighth graders at Stout Middle School in the Dearborn Public School District. For this article, I would like to share a project with you that I assign my seventh graders. Seventh graders may enroll in a one semester computer applications class called Seventh Grade Computers. This elective class runs for 20 weeks.

During the last three weeks of this class, students work on a project called Help Save the Rainforest. For this project students are challenged to use the Internet to gather facts that will educate me about the Rainforest and convince me to want to help save the Rainforest. They then design graphics that depict the Rainforest. Next, they construct a six card HyperStudio stack called Help Save the Rainforest.

Prior to this project, students have worked at improving their keyboarding skills, completed several detailed Internet activities, finished a word processing unit, created database files which they have sorted, searched and generated reports for, solved numerous problems using a spreadsheet, designed bar, pie and line charts, created many graphics using the painting program and completed a practice HyperStudio stack.

Most students are adept at keying in text, can use the word processor as an effective writing tool, a spreadsheet as a decision making tool, and a database as an analytical tool, can design graphics from scratch, have a high comfort level with the Internet and are very eager to use HyperStudio again.

At the beginning of this project, I share the handout displayed in Figure 1. This is a copy of the Website, The Rainforest Project, located at http://students.resa.net/stoutcomputerclass/cpForest.htm.  It contains the directions for this project.

Activity 1: Gather 25 Facts About the Rainforest has students gathering twenty-five facts about the Rainforest. These facts must educate me about the Rainforest and they must convince me to want to help save the Rainforest. Students must gather five facts that are convincing and informative for each one of these areas:

1. The Rainforest is...

2. Help save the Rainforest because...

3. Help save the Rainforest by...

4. Five additional facts about the Rainforest that everyone should know...

5. Five more facts about the Rainforest that everyone should know...

Before they begin this activity, I demonstrate this Website using Netscape so that students will know what to expect when they go online. Next, they choose their groupwork partners and we discuss the rules for working in cooperative learning groups of two. Each team must make decisions together, share the keyboard, take turns writing down the information and use six-inch voices.

In conclusion, I model for them how I want their groups to go fact-finding. We work through this short exercise. Students are given a list of six facts about why the Rainforest should be saved and from these facts they must pick the two that are the most informative and the most convincing. They must defend their choices.

Next we discuss plagiarism. Students understand that they may not copy the facts they find, that they must restate and explain these facts using their own words and insights. Activity 1 including the introductory activities takes students approximately five class sessions to complete.

Upon completion of Activity 1, we move on to Activity 2: Design 6 Rainforest Graphics. For this activity, students must use a paint program to draw six graphics that depict the Rainforest for their six-card HyperStudio Rainforest Stack. They need one graphic per card.

Before they begin this activity, students read over the directions for Activity 3 so that they will know what kind of graphics they should design. They also view a large selection of graphics that students drew last semester. These graphics are located online at the Rainforest Art site at http://students.resa.net/stoutcomputerclass/ForestArt.htm.  Please see Figure 2 to view a few of these graphics.

Students also look at several HyperStudio Stacks that were created by students from last semester. They visit RF Stack #1 online at http://students.resa.net/stoutcomputerclass/ForestHSstack1.htm  and they visit RF Stack #2 at http://students.resa.net/stoutcomputerclass/ForestHSstack2.htm.  Please see Figure 3 for one such example. It takes student teams approximately five class sessions to draw their graphics for Activity 2.

Next, we read and discuss the directions for Activity 3: The Rainforest HyperStudio Stack. For this activity, students must follow the directions outlined in Activity 3 as they create a six-card HyperStudio stack that educates me about the Rainforest and convinces me to want to help save the Rainforest.

We discuss my expectations and how I will grade their HyperStudio stack. I expect them to use certain HyperStudio features correctly. They are to create cards with graphics, scrolling text boxes, invisible voice buttons and direction buttons. They must also create one animation.

The layout of their cards must be attractive, easy to read and easy to use. They are to spellcheck their work and proofread their work. The information recorded in each voice button and the written content in each text box must be accurate, informative and convincing. They are to write in complete sentences using their own words. It takes student teams approximately five class sessions to complete Activity 3.

During the course of this project, students demonstrate to me that they are knowledgeable about the technology and software they are using. They make effective use of the Internet. They use it as an online library to gather facts that are pertinent and meaningful. They create a well-designed HyperStudio stack. They are very proficient at using the features of this program. They create, format and revise text boxes, voice buttons, animated graphics and direction buttons. They also design realistic pictures of the Rainforest using the paint program.

Students have commented that they enjoy this project because they like using the Internet to find information about the Rainforest. It’s a topic they are very much concerned about. They are also very proud and excited about their Help Save the Rainforest! HyperStudio Projects.

 

(Figure 1)

Help Save the Rainforest!

A Learning Website for Middle School Students

A 7th Grade 100 Point Project

The main point of this project is:

You must educate me about the Rainforest and you must convince me to want to help save the Rainforest!

Rainforest Links

1. Tropical Rainforests

2. Tropical Rainforests

3. Questions and Answers About the Rainforest

4. Facts About the Rainforest

6. Live From the Rainforest

6. Some Things You Should Know About the Rainforest

7. Rainforests are full of life

8. Rainforest Adventure

9. 7 Things Kids Can Do!

10. Things You Can Do!

11. Take a Walk in the Rainforest

12. Kid's Rainforest Art Gallery

Activity 1: Gather 25 Facts About The Rainforest

Use the Rainforest links listed above to answer these five questions. Write your answers on lined paper using complete sentences. Write using your own words.

1 The Rainforest is...

• Find five descriptive facts.

• What is the Rainforest?

• Describe it.

• I want to feel like I am there!

2. Help save the Rainforest because...

• Find five really good reasons.

• Show me why I should help save it.

3. Help save the Rainforest by...

• Find five really good suggestions.

• Give suggestions that are doable and helpful.

4. Five additional facts about the Rainforest that everyone should know...

5. Five more facts about the Rainforest that everyone should know...

Activity 2: Design 6 Rainforest Graphics

You need to design six rainforest graphics. Use the paint program to do this. Save these files as Graphic1, Graphic2, etc. Before you begin this activity, do these three things:

1. Read the directions for Activity 3 so you will know what graphics you need to design. You need one graphic per card.

2. Look at this site, Rainforest Art.

3. Look at this site, RF Stack #1 and at this site, RF Stack #2.

Activity 3: The Rainforest HyperStudio Stack

The main point of your six-card HyperStudio Rainforest Stack is: You must educate me about the Rainforest and you must convince me to want to help save the Rainforest! Set your HS Stack up like so and always save it as RF Stack. Proofread each card.

Card 1: Introduction

1. The Name of Your Project

2. Your Full Name

3. A Graphic that you drew that goes along with this part of the project.

4. A Direction Button to the next card.

Card 2: The Rainforest is...

1. A Text Object Box –Type in five statements that really describe the Rainforest. I want to feel like I am there!

2. A Graphic that you drew that goes along with this part of the project.

3. Place an Invisible Voice Button with an important message about the Rainforest on top of your graphic.

4. A Direction Button to the next card.

Card 3: Help save the Rainforest because...

1. A Text Object Box – Give me five really good reasons why I should help save the Rainforest.

2. A Graphic that you drew that goes along with this part of the project.

3. Place an Invisible Voice Button with an important message about the Rainforest on top of your graphic.

4. A Direction Button to the next card.

Card 4: Help save the Rainforest by...

1. A Text Object Box – Give me five really good suggestions. Exactly what can I do to help save the Rainforest?

2. A Graphic that you drew that goes along with this part of the project.

3. Place an Invisible Voice Button with an important message about the Rainforest on top of your graphic.

4. A Direction Button to the next card.

Card 5: Five Additional Facts About The Rainforest That Everyone Should Know...

1. A Text Object Box with five more facts about the Rainforest that are worth knowing about.

2. A Graphic that you drew that goes along with this part of the project.

3. Place an Invisible Voice Button with an important message about the Rainforest on top of your graphic.

4. A Direction Button to the next card.

Card 6: Five More Facts About The Rainforest That Everyone Should Know...

1. A Text Object Box with five more facts about the Rainforest that are worth knowing about.

2. A Graphic that you drew that goes along with this part of the project. Animate this graphic.

3. Place an Invisible Voice Button with an important message about the Rainforest on top of your graphic.

4. A Direction Button to the first card.

Joan Marie Brown teaches middle school students computer classes at Stout Middle School in the Dearborn Public School Schools. She is also an adjunct lecturer at the University of Michigan-Dearborn where she teaches technology courses to preservice teachers. Her e-mail address is jobrown@alumni.umich.edu.