Conceptual Framework

Make a list of learning objectives.

Decide on the specific 21st century skills we will address.

In fourth-grade social studies, we study the regions of Virginia. Instead of just doing a research report, students will compare, analyze, and decide for themselves what is significant about a region. My fourth-graders are going to form "travel agencies" and prepare an informative and persuasive proposal. Each "agency" makes decisions about the most important things to know, places to visit, and activities to do in their assigned region. They will have to establish their own criteria for what is significant, and I will guide them. Along the way, students read travel blogs and Web sites, find and interview people who live in or have visited the target region, ask a real local travel agent to work with them, research transportation information, "meet" people online from the region to learn about culture and possible likes and dislikes, and read and recommend literature about the region. Their products will include sample itineraries, a travel budget, and marketing materials such as brochures. They will create informative and persuasive proposals and make "pitches" to other students, who will act as critical "clients". In this way, all students learn about all the regions from each other. Students might choose different technologies for the project- for example, a podcast "walking tour" through a historic district, or a multimedia slideshow or film travelogue showing a sample "tour". The products and presentations will vary depending on interest, but a rubric will define core learning outcomes and guide their work.