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Author Biography: My name is Alfonso Gonzalez, otherwise known as EducatorAl (@educatoral) on Twitter. I have my class webs at http://educatoral.

com and I blog at I started my teaching career in 1991 teaching elementary school in south central Los Angeles, CA. I taught 4th and 5th grade to bilingual students mainly. By the time I moved to WA I started teaching mostly Science and now I teach Science full time to grade 6 and 8 students. The reason that this current project is so successful and has integrated technology so well is due to my success with grants. I have received at least one grant per year for the last 13 years and most of them were for this water quality project. What follows is a proposal showcasing this project. Activity Summary
Sixth graders learn about the water cycle, water pollution, habitat restoration, salmon and water quality as they practice being stewards of their neighborhood creek. This project incorporates outdoor education as students conduct field studies in water quality testing and plant trees while also incorporating technology in the form of water quality testing probes as well as using computers and mobile learning devices such as iPads for researching, webquests, graphing, and blogging. This is a great example of a 21st century project. Class or subject area: Science Grade level(s): 6 Specific learning objectives: Water Cycle Water Pollution Effects Salmon Life Cycle Stewardship Habitat Restoration Water Quality

Anniversary Book Project


Project-based learning
A science case study

By: Alfonso Gonzalez Creative Commons License: CC BY Author contact:

Chimacum Middle School resides in one of Washington states largest fisheries habitats. Years of over-fishing, poor land-use practices, and unchecked development have caused massive declines in local fish populations causing several local fish species to be listed as endangered or threatened. On August 02, 1999, the chum salmon was designated as threatened in Washington State and the U.S. by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) submitted Hatchery and Genetic Management Plans (HGMP) for Chimacum Creek. The Federal Register, Volume 66, Number 64, April 3, 2003, described the reintroduction of summer chum salmon into Chimacum Creek. Reintroducing summer chum into Chimacum Creek is important because the native population of summer chum has been extirpated from our watershed. Chimacum Middle School students are providing a source of help to insure the safety of the returning chum each year. Sixth grade Chimacum Middle School students learn about the water cycle, water pollution, habitat restoration, and salmon as they conduct investigations on Chimacum Creek. This project includes outdoor activities as students collect water quality data right from our creek using water quality probes. Students also work with the North Olympic Salmon Coalition (NOSC) to gather data to monitor the overall health of Chimacum Creek. NOSC is currently involved in restoration efforts on Chimacum Creek. A section of Chimacum Creek runs right through the Chimacum Schools campus. Chimacum Middle School students have been aiding NOSC in their restoration efforts on the creek in and by the school, which has been helping determine if the nearby farms are polluting the creek. Chimacum Middle School 6th graders work with NOSC to collect, view, and identify samples of benthic macroinvertebrates each year. Our students have also been directly involved with the restoration efforts in the area near our campus by planting trees near sections of the creek with NOSC restoration stewards and community volunteers. My Science Professional Learning Community (PLC) has worked on aligning our curricula and we have chosen power standards that we will focus on in grades 6 through 12. Throughout this project students learn about the Earth Science standard ES2C for the water cycle, and two Life Science standards, LS2A and LS2E for ecosystems and environmental issues. Students also learn about systems. The Washington state standards for systems has students, choosing system boundaries, determining if a system is open or closed, measuring the flow of matter and energy through a system, and applying systems thinking to a complex societal issue that involves science and technology. This project helps students learn to think of their neighborhood creek as a system that they can affect positively or negatively. This will hopefully help students make choices that will help their environment and keep Chum and Coho Salmon runs in our creek. By conducting field investigations using dissolved oxygen, pH, temperature, and flow rate probes students are engaged in outdoor education as they learn how science and technology are applied to solve real world problems. Students also learn how technology helps scientists solve these real world problems. In the Washington state standards application, includes the ability to use the process of technological design to solve real-world problems, to understand the relationship between science and technology and their influence on society. My students can influence society as they use technology to collect data, generate tables and graphs, and share their results and conclusions through their blogs and other social media such as Facebook. By using the Internet for research and for engaging in webquests, by using probeware to collect data, by presenting their results to their peers, by graphing their results using spreadsheets, and by using social networks and blogs to showcase and share their work abroad students will gain expertise in educational technology using 21st century skills. This project is accessible to all 6th graders regardless of their demographics. Providing enough devices such that every student has one and enough probes for students to work in small teams of two or three will help engage all students in this project. My school district has a site license for the Don Johnston Solo Suite software to help struggling students conduct research. With ReadOutLoud all my students can learn from the websites I have found for them. Using WriteOutLoud and CoWriter all students can draft their learning into publishable presentations and blogs. The Solo Suite bridges the gap of mixed abilities, which is my most pressing demographic concern.

In order for students to communicate, connect, collaborate, create, learn and do Science I plan to integrate enough Vernier Labquests for teams of two or three to have one. Each Labquest can hold up to four probes so I will supply each team a dissolved oxygen, pH, and temperature probe. With the probes students can collect data out on the field. I have enough iPads, Netbooks, and iMac computers, which students use to do research, write blogs, use our class social network, make drawings, record podcasts and songs, make animations, upload pictures and photos to their blogs, and to access our schools Google Apps class accounts. In class students can use the Macs to access Solo and Stella. Solo helps struggling readers and writers. Stella is for creating models to test how different inputs and outputs affect systems such as our creek. A 1:2 classroom ratio of computer to students used to be quite efficient for work such as creating static webpages. As more interactive technologies came out a 1:1 ratio is more effective. Students do not have to wait their turn to update their blog, finish their animation or drawing, or upload pictures to their blogs. With 15 iPads, 10 iMacs, and five Netbooks we will have enough machines for a class of 30 to work in a 1:1 environment. Having 10 Macs with the Solo software allows students, including struggling readers, a chance to learn the content. Students can also use Stella to create system models and test them, make prezis, create glogs, and edit and upload videos. The iPads mobility makes them more useful for sharing than a desktop. When students work in a computer lab something about desktop computers makes kids less likely to work together or to help each other. With iPads students can carry their iPad over to each other making sharing easier and more natural. Movement is necessary in a 21st century classroom and in a class of 30 every group of three students will have access to an iMac and two iPads or one iPad and one Netbook. Students can access webquests from my class Moodle on Mac, Netbook and iPad alike. I have apps that allow students to create on the iPads such as making animations and drawings. Students can also make drawings on the Macs and Netbooks by using Google Drawing. Our class social network, on Collaborize Classroom, is another tool accessible on both Macs, Netbooks and iPads for students to either respond to questions I post for discussion or to make their own questions to post. Through this social network all my classes can connect to each other. It is a secure network so only my Science classes can participate in the discussions and respond to the questions. Blogging connects students to the world. Every student has a blog account that also serves as an electronic portfolio for Science. In a 1:1 environment every student can be blogging, therefore connecting, at the same time any time they are in my class. This project starts out with the water cycle ( Students draw the water cycle as a formative assessment. As students share their drawings with each other and me I can see where they have misconceptions or missing information. This year a majority of students left out condensation completely. Students used a water cycle webquest to fill in any gaps in their knowledge then were asked to create animations, digital drawings, Scratch games, or movies of the water cycle and I made sure to go around and remind students to include condensation and to explain it. The completed products served as the summative assessment (http:// The next unit of this project is a water pollution webquest ( I created an assessment probe that asks students to select items they believe will pollute water from a list and to explain why they chose them ( If a few students have misconceptions I can work with them individually or in small groups. If a majority of students have misconceptions then I can do a whole class lesson. Students then answer questions about water pollution as a blog assignment for their summative assessment ( In the next phase students engage in another webquest to learn about salmons life cycle ( Their work includes drawing and describing each stage of a salmons life cycle including the needs and threats at each stage. We have Chum and Coho Salmon going through our neighborhood creek so students learn how to help them survive. I created a Google form ask-

ing students to write words that describe what could threaten the survival of salmon in our creek. I then take all the words generated and paste them into a Wordle. I display the Wordle for the class to see which words were chosen most frequently. I can see what students are learning to protect the salmon in our creek. Students share their salmon drawings and descriptions through another blog assignment, which serves as the summative assessment ( Students also get to see and identify benthic macroinvertebrates from our creek ( We use digital microscopes to view them as well as take digital photographs of the insects. Students learn about the bugs as well as how these bugs are used to determine the biological integrity of streams and creeks and blog about what they learn ( The final phase of this project has students going outdoors to visit our creek to collect water quality data using Vernier probes. Back in class students use Excel or Google Spreadsheets to graph their data. Weve been doing this project since 2001-02 so students can go back and graph their water quality parameter over the last several years to see how its changed over time. Student teams create prezis or Google presentations to share their results with each other. The presentation serves as a formative assessment. Students write their conclusions and graphs on their blogs or create websites/wikis to share as their summative assessment, which is still in progress this year ( Here are some photos of 6th graders planting trees this year: And here are the photos of 6th graders collecting water quality data this year: I have students reflect on what they learned by having them write about their understanding of each of the standards using Marzano style rubrics ( We then discuss on our class social network how our creek is a system. I use their reflections and the discussions to determine what my students have learned. This and their blog responses are the evidence that I use to determine how this project has met its academic goals as well as raising my students awareness of their environment and how they affect the environment. Overall this has been a very successful project. When former students return to visit me either from high school or after graduation this is the project they either ask me about or tell me that they remembered the most. That right there is evidence enough for me that this is a worthwhile project. Students also comment on the technology they use during this project and some of them have even told me that very few if any of their college courses integrate technology like we did back in the 6th grade. While may fill me with pride it also concerns me because I expect a college education to prepare our kids for their future.