Environmental Concerns Survey
After being introduced to the project in September, Zanker fifth graders began their research project with a survey. After working on a survey with their parents and family members at home, the students came up with a list of what they and their family members felt were the most critical environmental problems in their community. When the surveys were completed, the teacher held a class discussion and elicited all of the concerns listed by the students and their families. Many of the same issues arose repeatedly. About six major concerns emerged from the surveys. These environmental issues became the topics for the students' research.
Each student was allowed to choose the topic he or she wanted to learn more about from the list generated in class. The students used both printed material and the Internet to conduct research about their topic. The city of Milpitas provided the class with materials that explained more about pollution and recycling in the community. The students conducted the majority of their research online, using search engines such as yahooligans.com and kidsclick.org. In addition, a docent from the Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge gave a presentation to the class about water pollution and its effect on the wetlands and water systems of the Bay Area. The students kept their research notes in a journal, which became the basis for their persuasive essays.