Technology Planning Across the Curriculum Interdisciplinary Integration Michael D. Nichols
Introduction The current situation at Athens Area High School (AAHS) is that the Social Studies, English, and Science departments are encountering problems in presenting geography topics to the eleventh grade in an interdisciplinary fashion. State and National mandates require AAHS to incorporate a minimum of two cross-curricular activities in the course of a school year. The 11th grade faculty chose the American Great Depression and Dust Bowl as their first interdisciplinary unit due to the environmental, social, and political ramifications. The goals of the faculty are to use history and the data of the Great Depression and Dust Bowl in a manner that will satisfy State and National standards for Earth Science, Social Studies, English, and Geography. The problem is that the faculty is concerned with the delivery method of the material. The proposed intervention will involve faculty and student use of Geography Information Systems (GIS), United States Geological Survey (USGS) data from the Dust Bowl, primary and secondary sources, and the use of Google Documents. Scope The co-curricular unit will focus on the following effects of the Great Depression: the social and cultural changes of mass population migration from rural to urban centers, government intervention through congressional acts, and environmental impact of the Dust Bowl on the Great Depression. The subjects involved will be Social Studies, English, and Science. Social Studies will focus on the historical aspect of the Great Depression including analysis of primary/secondary sources. Science will focus on the environmental causes of the Dust Bowl through study of the geology and agriculture of the Midwest. English will focus on the social impact of the Dust Bowl and Great Depression through the reading and discussion of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. All subjects will utilize GIS technology through maps and 2
data. The rationale for including these disciplines is to demonstrate the inter-relationship of the Great Depression in a sense that will promote critical thinking, develop empathy for humanity, and provide historical insight for students. The technology resources for this co-curricular unit will be GIS, computers, the internet, and Google Documents. GIS will allow for faculty to place locations and events through maps for visual referencing. Students will also learn how to manipulate data sets through GIS to analyze population migration, identify agricultural uses of land, and see the effect of erosion on soil. The internet will allow students to conduct research and provide an opportunity to further their understanding of the Great Depression. Google Documents provides a place for faculty to post primary/secondary sources for studentâ€™s analysis and responses. It also allows students to develop materials collaboratively for presentation purposes. Computers will give students and faculty access to GIS software, the internet, and Google Documents. Logistics Preparation of the co-curricular unit is vital in the overall success of the project and overcoming the problem. Two weeks prior to the start of the unit, faculty will review how to use the GIS during a one day workshop. Substitute teachers will be utilized to cover classes that attending teachers will miss. Faculty will be tasked in preparing the instructional materials during this two week period. Instructional materials will include data sets and maps from the USGS, primary/secondary sources from the internet, and the acquisition of an adequate amount of The Grapes of Wrath books. In order to complete this in a timely fashion, educators will have access to http:///www.intimeandplace.org/Dust Bowl /index.html , a website that contains resources on the Dust Bowl which includes data sets, maps, images, articles, newspapers, and
other helpful materials. Social Studies faculty will focus on developing teaching materials that focus on the history of the Great Depression. They will utilize primary/secondary sources and GIS maps of population changes/migrations and locations for discussion and student analysis. Science faculty will tailor instruction to use GIS to buffer Dust Bowl data, perform GIS operations to visualize shift of soil due to erosion, and see changes in the number of farms. English faculty will identify important sections of The Grapes of Wrath that will strengthen cocurricular connections of the Dust Bowl. The English faculty will require students to develop a presentation based on the information learned from all three subjects. Students will use Google Documents to create their presentation. All instructional materials will be completed two days before the implementation of the unit. During the instructional preparation faculty will meet twice after school to discuss ideas, shortcomings, and progress of materials. The meetings will aid in the development of project and allow for faculty understanding of all concepts to be covered. The resources needed to complete the preparation phase include computers, GIS, and meeting area for faculty. Faculty will use the computer lab for the one day review of the GIS software. The library will be used for the after school meetings to discuss any issues that the faculty may have. AAHS, through a technology grant, has a computer lab and three carts consisting of 30 computers and laptops. During the instructional phase of the unit, the Science and Social Studies faculty will utilize two of the three carts while the English faculty will use the last remaining cart and the computer lab. All computers will have GIS installed due to a previous technology integration initiative. In terms of technical issues, the technology director (TD) will be available through phone calls during the preparation stage and available in person
during the instructional phase of the unit. Troubleshooting materials will also be developed in advance before preparation begins. Faculty will be required to communicate each other through email daily during the preparation and instruction phases of the unit. If deemed necessary, faculty can also call each other to discuss any issues. It will be required that faculty attend each of the following: the review of GIS and both the after school meetings. Technical issues can be addressed by emailing or calling the TD during the preparation phase of instruction and in person during the instructional phase. The number of class sessions needed to fulfill the objectives of this unit will be five Social Studies, Science, and English class periods. At AAHS, each period is 55 minutes long. It will be advised to faculty to start promptly in order to complete the unit in a four day period. The first day of lessons will be an introduction of the materials including the identification of standards and setting objectives. Software acclimation will take place during the first day with time permitting and be finished the second day. The third, fourth, and fifth day instruction will take place according to the plan developed for each subject during the preparation phase. The overall rationale for the logistics of this project is to utilize GIS and Google Documents as a method for instructional delivery to cover the Great Depression and Dust Bowl in an interdisciplinary fashion. The rationale behind using GIS, Google Documents, and computers was to maximize resources already present at AAHS and to limit expenses. In terms of materials, two weeks provide ample time to collect and plan for instructional delivery collaboratively.
Implementation The unit will start with a faculty review of GIS. The materials for review will be developed in advance. The next two weeks will involve faculty development of instructional materials through research of the website and meeting twice to discuss progress of the unit. The materials need to be acquired and instructional use determined before the unit can commence. Faculty will need to have the research done before they meet for the first time. All materials should be completed for the final meeting so faculty can discuss their intended instructional strategies. The second phase of the implementation will be delivering the instructional materials. The first part will require all teachers to instruct students on how to use the software. This should start on the first day with time permitting and finish on the second day. The rest of the periods will be used to fulfill the instructional objectives of the unit. Possible Problems Technical Problems Time Issues Student Absences
Solutions TD will be on call and available in person Troubleshooting materials will be available Faculty will notify other faculty and instructional extensions can be given Handled on an individual basis. Make up work could be developed in preparation phase
Summative Evaluation In order to measure the success of the preparation of instructional materials and the effectiveness of the interdisciplinary unit, a summative evaluation will be conducted. In order to receive input from both faculty and students, two surveys will be created. The faculty survey will focus on the review and instructional phases of the unit. It will determine faculty 6Â Â
satisfaction, instructional merit, and general feedback of the unit through a series of questions. The student survey will focus on the instructional aspect of the unit. It will determine students’ attitudes towards subject matter, use of GIS technologies, and general feedback of the materials covered. The technology team will compile results and determine instructional plan was a success and if not, what can be done to make it one.