This lesson plan uses collaborative-learning techniques and Internet and software technology to teach students about water conservation.
The premise is that the students' own community has been stricken by a drought. Students collaborate with one another in groups of five, taking on differing roles, to solve the problem of how to stretch the existing water in their communities. Their goal is to make the water last about three times longer than it would otherwise.
Collaboration takes place between students as they learn together, brainstorm, achieve consensus, and present and defend their findings. Collaboration also occurs between students and water-conservation experts, whom the students contact via the Internet and ask for feedback on their plans.
You can also choose to do the lesson collaboratively with another classroom in another geographic area. That way, the students will get a firsthand world view of the issues.
Technology facilitates and enhances collaboration by helping with the brainstorming process and the formulation of students' plans, providing an electronic record that may be used again and in different ways. It also allows students to communicate with experts from around the country.
Generally, in a collaborative classroom technology can help students learn by:
- providing brainstorming tools that help them achieve consensus;
- facilitating collaboration with other classrooms;
- allowing for contact with experts;
- bridging the dichotomy between real-world experience and schools;
- creating a permanent electronic record that may then be used for:
- publishing findings,
- creating and adding to a Web site,
- creating newsletters, presentations, or other documents;
- allowing collaborative research directly from an Internet-enabled classroom computer;
- allowing collaboration with another classroom via the Internet.