I chose a lesson from the iEARN-USA website for a high school environmental science course. This was a class I taught many years ago, and it was a struggle. The course was a senior elective and the concept of using the Web in school to do a research project was relatively new. Keeping the students on task and helping them understand their connection to a larger world was very difficult. Netiquette was barely a concept.

The lesson, called Our Footprints, Our Future requires the students to research the effects of carbon emissions and the concept of a carbon footprint. The students work in groups to collaborate on collecting and analyzing data relating to carbon emissions, how they are generated, and their own role in that cycle, their carbon footprint. They will then collaborate with students from a different country using a dedicated discussion board on iEARN to compare their data and their impact to see how their lives have similar impact as the foreign students, but through different modes of generation. The lesson concludes with a video presentation by each group to both classes, facilitated by the iEARN site.

This activity would have fit beautifully into that environmental science class. They were a very social and curious group, but easily distracted. It was a purely project based course, and each project generally took about 2-weeks to complete. This would have enhanced their collaboration skills, online research skills, communication skills, data analysis skills, and presentation skills.

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Brian, the iEarn site sounds like the perfect match for the high school environmental science course. What a great way to have students participate with each other and those around the globe to present on their own "carbon footprint". I like how you said that the entire course was project based. That is the perfect format for a course that is a senior elective because it sounds highly engaging. Thank you for your post.

There are a lot of great lesson plans for younger students, too. I would definitely recommend checking it out. I focused on the science projects, but there are quite a few social studies and writing projects, too.

Brian,

That is a great idea. I like that the students will be able to collaborate with each other in the classroom and also with students from different cultures. This sounds like a great project that touches on various skills. It is also a great alternate assignment for students. I wish when I was in high school I would have had a teacher create a project like this for us to do!

The thing that really attracted me to the project was the variety. It really touches on every subject, which is great for a senior, project based class. The students can call on all of the skills they've learned over their education to complete the project.

I think it is important to note that a difference that may make the course easier today is the speed of the interent and the grater variety of materials out there. I can remember when dial up was the only way.  I can also remember when a search tuned up no or few results.  Amazing the changes that have taken place over the last 10 years.

That was one place I was very lucky. We had a nice T1 line in the school, which made research very easy. Of course, it also made distraction easy, too.

Your point is very well made, though. There were no cloud applications or opportunities when I taught this class. Everything was still going onto local disks. The advancement of the internet and shared services have created a whole world of opportunities for educating students.

I have never heard of iEARN before, but it seems like a great site for collaboration and discussion. Students would definitely benefit from getting practice with using discussion boards before college courses. This would be great also to look into for the elementary level, to get students comfortable with collaborating online. I really like the way that students are using the internet to research and collaborate with each other!

I absolutely love this lesson. I had not heard of the iEARN  site before either, but I'm very interested in project-based, real world learning. It is so important for kids to be able to connect what they learn in the classroom to the world outside the walls of the school. I find that it is very easy for students to forget or not even know the impact they have on the environment through the choices they make every day. It would be very interesting for them to collaborate with and learn about students in other countries and compare the results of the carbon footprint studies. They could learn so much by determining what caused the most similarities or differences in the data. This type of learning is what I believe all students should be able to participate in. I really like the website's slogan "Learning with the world, not just about it".

Brian,

I think you chose a very important activity for your Global Awareness assignment.  After school, students will be entering an increasingly warmer planet with diminished resources.  I think it is imperative now to help students understand the role we all play in contributing to global warming (and resource demand).  Have you seen maps like these?  It is staggering the disparity in resource consumption.  

Sustainability concepts like this are at the core of most of my units.  Political beliefs aside, what does anything else matter if we can't eat, drink or breathe.  Basic life needs are already being compromised due to carbon emissions, and sadly, the one's lowest on the economic ladder are already suffering.

Again, I think what you selected is valuable to our young learners.  It teaches students to consider the impact of any of their decisions, beyond carbon emissions.  

Thanks. I have seen maps like that, but not in one place, so well condensed. It's sad how predictable most of those maps are. Before I even choose an option, I already have a pretty good idea of how they will look.

WOW. That does sound like a very intense activity!  It's wonderful that they would be comparing the data with other areas and very interesting that they found different causes for emissions!  Project based learning is awesome!  Do you think that now, because students are more versed in technology, it would be easier to complete?

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