This quarter in social studies, we are studying the North Carolina government. In order to tie in this content to writing, my team has developed a project to make learning more authentic and hopefully informative to the students. It requires many steps, but we have already completed the first one and so far students are still very eager and positive about the assignment.
We are reaching out to the 100 counties of North Carolina in hopes of receiving information back from them about their county. This should include information about their policies, education, landmarks, and fun things to do there. A teacher did this last year and had great responses from the counties, so we decided to team up on it this year. This has been the process so far and the parts we are still going to do:
Step One: Assign Counties and Send out Letters
There are three classrooms working on this project, so we evenly divided the counties among the three classes (no one got Wake since that’s where we live). From there students were chosen at random to select a county of their choice. The leftover counties became team counties. This meant three students would work on this county together. The hope is that if a student doesn’t receive information back from their county, one of the extra counties will send things and they can work with that instead. The students went on the computer, looked up the address for their county’s Chamber of Commerce and wrote letters explaining the project and what they needed from them.
Step Two: Anxiously Await our Packages
We intentionally sent these out early since we don’t need to start this project for a few weeks. Hopefully we will have mail and information to use when we begin. And if not, that’s what the internet is for!
Step Three: Complete Research and Write Paper
This step may be the most challenging as these fourth graders haven’t been exposed to too much research before. They will need to write an informative essay about their county and will have rubrics and guidelines to follow.
Step Four: Turn Paper into Creative Project
This part we are collaborating with the technology teacher on to make some interesting projects. Students will have some options to choose from in how they want to present their projects. We have a green screen so they can be newscasters in front of the green screen, they can work with iMovie, create a flotilla with information on the sails, or come up with their own interactive idea.
Step Five: Connect the Parents
Have a day of presentations which parents will be invited to! Students can prepare food that is native to North Carolina to celebrate on this day.
The students have been very excited so far, and I cannot wait to see how this project continues to unfold. Hopefully this real life example and freedom to choose their mode of presentation allows for some of the more reserved students to step out of their comfort zone and challenge themselves to create a great project!