Mankind’s fascination with machines goes beyond everyday use. It impacts the quality of life in positive and not so positive ways. Throughout my tenure as an educator I have tried to convey the importance of technology, but not at the expense of lack of awareness of its potential pitfalls. Living in an industrialized country poses a challenge for educators. We must introduce technology; at the same time we are helping students develop a sense of responsibility towards the environment. When I want to convey this concept my charge is to enable students to perceive themselves as part of a global community that has the responsibility to protect the resources available.
Young children very seldom understand the concept of future. Thus, it is impossible for me to instill in them the responsibility they have towards future generations. Yet, if I can convey that the resources we utilize to power machines are non-renewable, perhaps they will grasp the importance of conservation. Do I want to return to an agrarian society? Do I want conservation at the expense of modernization? No. I want them to enjoy as I do the advantages of industrialization but with a consciousness that what we enjoy and use must involve responsibility towards the rest of mankind and ultimately for the preservation of our planet.
Today we have many resources available to us to power engines and to develop technology that will allow us to achieve work that otherwise would be impossible. This unit intends to explore the intricacies of the harnessing of energy, how is energy utilized in engines and how it affects the environment. This exploration will allow me and my students to formulate questions about complex concepts and to find ways to seek answers.
As a dual language program coordinator I need to develop and implement curricula. The main purpose of the curricula is to model effective instruction for the benefit of the teachers and students involved in the program. The other reason to engage in an instructional endeavor is to continue my contact with the students. This will keep me in touch with the most critical aspect of education: sharing with and facilitating learning for children. The classroom experience also helps me engage in situations that allow for student observation.
In terms of modeling curricular and instructional techniques I have chosen to use an integrative science approach to create a curriculum unit that focuses on the environment. In terms of observing students I have chosen to integrate instruction on the scientific- method to observe their development and organizational skills in this area.
The second grade curriculum framework for the New Haven Public Schools calls for an emphasis on teaching students about the properties of air and water and how they are preserved. Thus, I want to develop a unit that will show how energy sources affect these previously mentioned environmental resources. In addition, I would like to explore with my students how the use of machines and the energy sources needed for a technological society has impacted our lives and our environmental resources.
My students for this unit are second graders who have been involved in a dual language program since kindergarten. The philosophy of the program is to develop linguistic and academic skills in two languages through the content areas of math and science.
Working with Hispanic students in New England has been a challenge. Materials in Spanish are often not available. Programmatic restrictions may preclude educators from utilizing best practices. Yet, I must say that it promotes reflective practice and teacher development of research skills. Teaching in a dual language program removes some of the constraints I have encountered when teaching either in English or in Spanish alone. My students have the opportunity to develop linguistically and academically in two languages and best of all their self esteem is improved. The majority of our students are Hispanics from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Guatemala, Honduras, Dominican Republic, and the United States. Among this majority some of our students are predominantly English or Spanish speaking (dominant) and others are balanced bilinguals. In addition, we have some students who are from either European or African-American descent. When these children reach the second grade they will have been together for three years helping each other develop their academic knowledge and language. We have observed that for these students sharing of information has come to be natural. Although the program encourages students to engage in cooperative learning their willingness and eagerness to help each other goes beyond the academic realm. This is great when we are trying to include new curricula because they help each other in the acquisition of new vocabulary and concepts.