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Impact II: Projects & Lesson Plans: Fun with Franklin

HOW IT WORKS
Fun with Franklin is an interdisciplinary, technology-oriented study of an amazing man whose multifaceted genius greatly influenced history. While studying Ben Franklin initially comes out of social studies, his many accomplishments lead us to science, math, and language arts. The students work cooperatively both at their computers and at their desks doing research, taking notes, sharing information, writing reports and mini-books, and developing slide shows. 

The study begins with a read-aloud about Ben, with note taking, discussion, and development of a class KWL chart following. For the next several sessions, the children work cooperatively in groups of three, gleaning information on Franklin the writer, politician, scientist, and inventor. Using the Web site: 

www.ushistory.org/franklin/index.htm 

they learn how to use the links that lead them to the information they seek. Available in a Ben Franklin basket are trade books, texts, encyclopedias, and articles that offer a glimpse of this historic figure. Immersed in information about the man, students produce nonfiction reports. At the same time, whole-class activities reveal the many areas that Franklin influenced. They make time-lines, study his proverbs, keep weather data (gotten from the Internet) and graph it, do experiments with electricity, and try their hand at potato printing. They think about how his work and ideas have influenced our lives even today and write him letters of thanks. They take an online trip to the Ben Franklin Institute in Philadelphia (www.fi.edu/tfi/welcome.html), and, finally, they make flip-books that serve as the basis of the slide shows they develop using ClarisWorks. 

THE STUDENTS
Twenty-eight fifth grade general education students of varying abilities participate in this program that takes place in our classroom. Since our fifth grade teachers work together on many projects, three other classes, similar in composition,  do many of the activities. Children develop some of their technical abilities through weekly sessions in our computer lab. However, since this is the first year of Internet availability in my classroom, I teach them on-line research skills and illustrate the steps involved in preparing slide shows. This pro-gram can easily be adapted for other grades. 

THE STAFF
Hilary has been teaching for 15 years, during which time she has taught many grades. She is currently teaching science to sixth graders and runs the school's website

WHAT YOU NEED
This program can be implemented in any classroom with Internet access. My room has a bank of four iMacs clustered together, with room for two or three students at each computer. However, this work can be done just as easily in a one-computer classroom or in a lab or library. We use ClarisWorks (now Apple-Works)  for our word processing and slide shows, but any similar software can be used. We also use encyclopedias and related library books for the research.

OVERALL VALUE
Fun with Franklin is an interactive, thematic, cross-curricular project that incorporates literacy into other subject areas. The cooperative learning and hands-on activities motivate the students and keep them interested. While gaining insight into the greatness of this man and his times, they develop important research, reading, and writing skills and strive to meet vital standards in English/language arts and, peripherally, in math, science, and social studies. The excitement of using technology to gather and present information is without parallel. It requires not only the “how-to” of navigating Web sites, but also the ability to organize, synthesize, and interpret information for presentation to others. 

CURRICULUM AREAS
Technology
Mathematics
Language Arts
Social Studies
Science

GRADES
4 - 6

MORE INFORMATION
Hilary Sedewitch
P.S. 206 Q
61-21 97 Place
Rego Park, NY 11374
Principal
Patricia Cosentino

IMPACT II Catalog 2000-2001
(pdf file: requires Adobe Acrobat Reader).

 

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