Project Title: A Tree and MeProject Description: What will the activities and materials look like? In A Tree and Me students spend several months up-close-and-personal with a tree.Children are often interested in animals and video games, but take the wonders of nature forgranted. Since plants don’t move quickly or make loud noises, they are easy for students to passby. However, the significance of plants to our environment is undeniable. It is important forchildren to connect to the outdoors and become active members of their communities. Students first identify one tree and perform background research on its scientific name,life cycle, ecology, and uses. Students may use the internet, books, encyclopedias, or fieldguides to build their foundation of knowledge. Students practice identifying plants and usebotanical vocabulary during class Leaf Walks, in which traits such as size, shape, and texture areidentified. A written scientific description of the student’s tree follows, with measures of itsheight, circumference, and physical features. Students begin observing their tree on a weeklybasis, making mathematical and qualitative evaluations of its environment (temperature, time ofsunset, leaf counts, precipitation, and noticeable environmental changes). Students will alsodocument how animals and plants large and small interact with their tree. They may takephotographs using digital cameras or record nature sounds of their tree’s habitat. Meanwhile, students begin creative reflections of their tree. They write an in-depth lifestory, describing its cycle from seed to mature tree. They also write six shorter stories or poemsabout the tree’s experiences with squirrels, storms, people, and the like. Students will makeseveral artistic and scientific renderings of their tree using a variety of media: impressions of itsshape, bark and leaf rubbings, labeled drawings of leaves, a map of the tree’s location, andillustrations of branches, fruit or flowers. They will also write and record, or select, music thatreflects their feelings about their tree. Students will participate in a class service project to improve awareness of, or raise fundsfor, local environmental education. This may take the form of planting trees for Arbor Day,sharing Earth Day activities with younger classes, painting birdhouses for Habitat forHumanity’s Bird Fest, or another group project. Students will also design and implement anindependent conservancy project inspired by their interactions with their tree. Students will create a multimedia presentation incorporating all areas of their A Tree andMe project. Scanned artwork and photographs may fade in the background with the musicselection. Students may play nature sounds or music they have composed. Students will presenttheir background research and life stories. They may play digital recordings their short writingor poems. Spreadsheets or tables could be shared of observational data. Documentation andreflections of community service projects will be displayed. Presentations will be recordeddigitally and shared with other classes, schools, or educational institutions.Learning objectives and N.C. Standards:Students will:
• Understand relationships between music, the other arts, and content areas outside the arts (Music Goal 8) • Organize the components of a work into a cohesive whole through knowledge of organizational principles of design and are elements (Visual Arts Goal 3) • Examine how individuals can initiate change in families, neighborhoods, and communities (Social Studies Goal 3) • Conduct investigations and build an understanding of plant growth and adaptations (Science Goal 1) • Recognize and use standard units of metric and customary measurement (Math Goal 2) • Apply strategies and skills to create oral, written, and visual texts (Language Arts Goal 4) • Use a variety of techniques to access, analyze, interpret, synthesize, apply, and communicate information (Technology Skills Goal 3)How will technology be used in these lessons? Students will use technology in variety of waysas they participate in A Tree and Me. Lessons taught about plant growth and adaptations include technology. Our school hasActivBoards (interactive white boards with computer projectors), which are utilized forpresentations of all kinds. Promethian Planet is a website dedicated to sharing interactiveteaching materials about all subjects, including science. PowerPoint presentations of people’stravels to different ecosystems are shown as we discuss plant adaptations to diverseenvironments. UnitedStreaming is a service our school uses, which shows narrated video clipspertaining to educational topics, such as time-lapse video of a plant growing. Is it sponsored bythe Discovery Channel, and has a wealth of information. In class students grow plants to observethe cycle themselves, using genetically engineered Wisconsin Fast Plants and grow lights. Students use technology in a variety of ways as they gather and present data about theirtree. They perform background research about their tree using the internet and library. Studentsoften take digital photographs of their tree as it changes and document nature sounds with digitalrecorders. Thermometers and watches are used as they record the temperature and time ofobservations of their tree. Students use word processing skills to type their project, includingbackground research and creative writing. They create tables to organize their observations. A Tree and Me culminates with a multimedia presentation of student experiences andknowledge. Students will each do a slideshow presentation. Their artwork will be scanned toprovide a changing background, along with digital photographs of the student and their tree.Students will either choose an existing piece of music or compose and record a piece of musicdigitally that relates to their emotions about their tree, and play it in the background. Creativewriting will be recorded digitally so student work can be heard in students’ own voices.Technology may be used in a variety of ways as students complete independent service projects,especially to advertise if they need assistance of any kind. Students will be video recorded in abrief interview discussing how their connection with a tree has affected their environmentaloutlook, behavior, and hopes for the future. Clips may also be aired on our school newsbroadcast, Brunson Live. CDs will be recorded and distributed to other schools as an example ofhow making a personal connection with the local environment can have a positive impact in thecommunity.
Project InnovationA Tree and Me is unique in many ways. It integrates material from all major subjects of study,helping students make cross-curricular connections and improving achievement. A Tree and Meutilizes a variety of innovative technology resources. This gives students skills they will need toremain competitive in the educational and work force. It also provides a way to share studentlearning with a wider audience. A Tree and Me helps create reflective citizens who are aware oftheir effect on the environment and responsible for its care. This project extends beyondclassroom doors and into the community. A Tree and Me could be made accessible to mostschool children in North Carolina, using materials and resources already available in publicschools. A Tree and Me can be adapted across grade levels and can be taught across the state.How does this project address the needs of students in North Carolina?This unit addresses the needs of North Carolina’s students in many ways. It addresses a varietyof objectives in many areas of the North Carolina Standard Course of Study. Research showsthat interdisciplinary units are better comprehended by students than lessons that focus on asingle subject. A Tree and Me deepens student understanding of the interaction between humansand their environment as they participate in creative writing activities. Students learn charactertraits such as respect and empathy as they imagine they are a tree. A Tree and Me createsresponsible citizens who design and implement a service project to positively impact theircommunity. Various learning styles are addressed by this project, so students of all levels andbackgrounds can participate successfully. Technological skills are taught and practiced asstudents prepare and distribute their multimedia presentations. A Tree and Me fosterspresentation and public speaking skills, initiative, reflection, and independence, which manyemployers say the current workforce is lacking. North Carolina’s economy relies heavily onagriculture and tourism to natural areas, so an understanding and appreciation of our naturalresources will benefit our state’s future. This project is naturally differentiated to meet the needsof North Carolina’s diverse student population.How will students be assessed?Student will be assessed using a variety of tools. Student impressions of trees, the localenvironment, and community service will be measured before and after the project using a Likertscale to observe changes in their views over the course of this project. Student notebooks as westudy plant growth and adaptations in class will document their growing knowledge. Rubricswill accompany each section of the project, with measurable objectives and tasks in all schoolsubjects. Students will perform self-assessments of their projects. Peers will assess classpresentations, and wider audience members will be asked to mail their reflections to the school toshare.