Web as Resource
Interactive Online Tools
Interactive online tools are often open-ended and allow users to manipulate and explore data. They provide students the opportunity to explore variables and investigate results. Often, these tools do require some specialized software like Macromedia Flash. Once installed, these tools can be accessed from any Web browser.
Web as Environment
Photosharing Web Sites
Photosharing Web sites are free or low cost Web services that allow users to upload photos for public or private viewing. Some sites allow visitors to add comments which can facilitate student feedback from anywhere in the world.
The use of visual imagery addresses multiple learning styles and increases understanding to those with limited English proficiency.
A natural disaster provides a rare opportunity for modeling global systems
Song Song Hui teaches 10th-grade physical science in a high school with a population of nearly 3,000 students. Classes as large as 40 students make it difficult to schedule activities for small cooperative groups. She must spend so much time managing the class that she rarely gets to engage students in interactive lessons.
Hui spent a considerable amount of time in the fall trying different small-group activities, but nothing seemed to engage the students. After returning from winter break, the students were concerned and sympathetic with the plight of those affected by the tsunami. Hui learned that most of her students possessed a very limited understanding of the causes of a tsunami.
The unfortunate events in Southeast Asia could serve as a catalyst for an exciting and positive learning opportunity. To maximize student learning, Hui wanted students to go beyond the verbal mode of acquiring information. She did some research to learn more about effective strategies for nonlinguistic representations.
Hui focused on two research recommendations: the process of creating graphic representations, and the best ways of modeling data (Robinson & Kiewra, 1996; Welch, 1997). She was convinced that the best approach would employ a process organizer that focuses on cause-and-effect patterns.
First, she used the news imagery and reports of the tragedy as a resource for students. Students used this material to create a process organizer focusing on the causes and effects of tsunamis. Second, she had students create a presentation that modeled the dire effects of the tragedy.
Prior to creating the cause-effect organizer, Hui divided her students into small groups. She discussed the process for researching the events of the tsunami and explained how students should catalog what they found online. She signed up for a free photo-sharing account using a service known as Flickr. (http://www.flickr.com/) She chose this particular service because of its unique features:
Students then completed the activity for images of the same shoreline after the tsunami had passed through.
After the students completed this exercise for a number of images (which they uploaded based on their Web research), they began the process of creating a cause-effect organizer. This combined the best elements of the research, combining linguistic and nonlinguistic representations of information. Students then built a short presentation designed to show their cause-and-effect organizer as well as the imagery from which they drew their analysis.
The project prompted students to apply what they learned in class (the scientific method, cause-and-effect thinking) to what they saw on the news, and now had a much better perspective of tsunamis and their impact on the world.
Hui plans to apply this instructional approach to a wide variety of topics. The combination of the photo-sharing software, which students could access from any Internet connection, with the small-group approach created a genuine learning experience.