The National Writing Project and Google have created a project for students to write to the future president about issues and concerns important to them. The project, Letters to the Next President: Writing Our Future, provides a platform for teens to tackle the issues irritating them and present them to the future president via a website display from teens around the country.
Our students stepped right up to the problem, expressing concerns such as
- paying the high gas prices,
- depending on oil as fuel for cars
- wanting affordable hybrid cars: electrical, hydrogen, battery
- stopping global warming and the melting of the polar caps
- stopping the wars and having peace
- stopping pollution
- caring for our natural resources
Currently, each student is researching the issue of importance to him/her to find the origin of the problem, statistics, and solutions. That means checking the accuracy and validity of the websites — even those that “look” professional. A great example we are checking is the water-powered car. We are still checking out the facts. (Wikipedia: Check One Check Two).
Discussions we have begun: validity of information (how to check), citing sources (note-taking strategies), plagiarism (what and how to avoid).
Google Education includes lessons for teachers. We learned three google search tips:
- Use double quotes — “high gas prices”
- Include a minus sign — “high gas prices” -low
- Search site choices — site:gov site:edu site:org “high gas prices” -low site:org
The search term: <“high gas prices” -low site:org> found 123,000 searches instead of millions.
The journey has begun. Our computers are old, but working — slow, but steady snow iMacs.
What else? What’s important! Students are engaged: reading, talking, googling, learning, sharing. They share sources, help each other search, and discuss facts. They are advancing their thinking: “If we didn’t even use gas in our cars, we wouldn’t need to use so much oil.” Tomorrow we continue and review persuasive writing strategies we learned last year.
Student pages: http://whatelse.pbwiki.com/TOC-W8-Members