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A Year in Arizona


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Keywords: calendar, Arizona, calendar, Arizona
Subject(s): Math, Science, Social Studies, English/Language Arts, Photography, Information Skills, Reading, Writing, Technology
Grade 4
School: James K. Zaharis, Mesa, AZ
Planned By: Carrie Matheson
Original Author: Carrie Matheson, Mesa
This plan incorporates reading, writing, researching, science, social studies, math, and technology into one fun and engaging project that will get students involved in reading and writing for a "real-world" purpose!

The project will begin with a study of calendars as a genre of writing. Many calendars are designed around a theme, and include small paragraphs or "blurbs" that explain or tell facts about the picture for each month. I plan to purchase (or ask for donations of) a wide variety of calendars for students to look through. These calendars will serve as our "mentor texts," examples of what we're trying to create. Students will have several days to "explore" the calendars, writing down what they notice about the way they're structured.

Once students have a clear idea of what conventions we will need to include in our calendars, they will choose a theme for their own calendar. Since our year-long social studies focus is our state of Arizona, students will be required to create a calendar that focuses on Arizona. However, they are free to choose any Arizona topic they like. A few ideas I came up with are: animals of Arizona, Arizona's cactus and plant life, Arizona's history, Arizona's geology, and Native American culture. I am sure that my students will think of even more creative ideas.

Now it's time for the research portion of this project. Students will need to find information related on their topic in order to create 12 unique pages for their calendars. They will also need to take into consideration the fact that they will be taking photos for each page, as well. If they choose a theme of "Animals of Arizona," for example, they might not want to include "Mountain Lion" as one of their animals... unless they are planning to visit the zoo to take the photo!

Students will take the information for their 12 pages and write a short paragraph for each page. This will incorporate their writing skills. Students will peer-conference and peer-edit their paragraphs until they are satisfied with the quality.

Now it's finally time to design our calendars! We will create a basic calendar template using the Tool Factory Workshop software. Then the students will begin learning how to use the Olympus FE 290 digital cameras. They will take photos around the school to practice their skills. Once they are confident, they will begin taking the photos for their calendars. Many of the photos may be able to be taken around our school. Our school borders a desert area with lots of plant and animal life. If they choose the theme of "Arizona's history," they could easily ask friends to dress up as historical figures and take photos at the school. Each year, the 4th grade classes take a field trip to the Arizona Museum of Natural History. This will be a great place to take photos of historical scenes and Native American culture.

I will also consider allowing parents to "check out" cameras if they are able to take their child to a location to take additional photos.

After the photos have been taken, we will be able to create our calendars and print them out. My goal is to accomplish all these tasks between August and December (2008) so that students can use their calendars all year long (2009). We might also be able to sell copies of the student calendars as a fund-raiser, possibly donating the money to a good cause.
Materials: Word Processor, Camera Bags, Digital SLR
Other Items: 3 Neoprene Soft Case, $14.95 each, total of $44.85
3 1 GB HxD Card, $29.95 each, total of $89.85
3 Neoprene Soft Case, $14.95 each, total of $44.85
12 Epson Matte Double-Sided Photo Paper (8 1/2" x 11" - 50 sheets), $14.99 each, total of $179.88
2 Color Printer Ink, $60.00 each, total of $120.00
1 USB xD Picture Card Reader/Writer - Micro Drive, $19.95 each, total of $19.95
3 1 GB HxD Card, $29.95 each, total of $89.85
1 USB xD Picture Card Reader/Writer - Micro Drive, $19.95 each, total of $19.95
12 Epson Matte Double-Sided Photo Paper (8 1/2" x 11" - 50 sheets), $14.99 each, total of $179.88
2 Color Printer Ink, $60.00 each, total of $120.00