Water Safari: A Journey of Life
This lesson takes students on a WebQuest water safari through several African countries, using the Peace Corps Water in Africa site as a WebQuest. Students complete the WebQuest by conducting research about the relationship between physical and human systems. They use the data they collect to prepare a formal report for the Peace Corps that will assist in the making of a training video for Volunteers in Africa.
Seven 45-minute periods
Geography, language arts, technology
How do human systems develop in response to water conditions in the physical environment?
How do human actions with water modify the environment?
Access to the Water in Africa website at http://www.peacecorps.gov/wws/educators/enrichment/africa/index.html
Water Safari: A WebQuest to the Water in Africa website (PDF or RTF) (one or more copies for each group)
Data Collection Document (PDF or RTF) (one copy for each group)
Evaluation Rubric (PDF or RTF)
Personal student journals
Electronic presentation software such as PowerPoint or HyperStudio (optional)
Geography Standard 4—Understands the physical and human characteristics of place
Benchmark—Knows the human characteristics of places
Benchmark—Knows the physical characteristics of places
Geography Standard 14—Understands how human actions modify the physical environment
Benchmark—Understands the environmental consequences of people changing the physical environment
Benchmark—Understands the ways in which human-induced changes in the physical environment in one place can cause changes in other places
Geography Standard 15—Understands how physical systems affect human systems
Benchmark—Knows the ways in which human systems develop in response to conditions in the physical environment
Language Arts Standard 1—Uses the general skills and strategies of the writing process
Benchmark—Uses a variety of prewriting strategies
Benchmark—Uses a variety of strategies to draft and revise written work
Benchmark—Uses a variety of strategies to edit and publish written work
Benchmark—Evaluates own adn others' writing
Benchmark—Writes expository compositions
Language Arts Standard 4—Gathers and uses information for research purposes
Benchmark—Organizes information and ideas from multiple sources in systematic ways
Language Arts Standard 7—Demonstrates competence in the general skills and strategies for reading a variety of informational texts
Benchmark—Uses new information to adjust and extend personal knowledge base
Benchmark—Draws conclusions and makes inferences based on explicit and implicit information in texts
Benchmark—Differentiates between fact and opinion in informational texts
Language Arts Standard 8—Uses listening and speaking strategies for different purposes.
Plays a variety of roles in group discussions (e.g., active listener, discussion leader, facilitator).
Technology Standard 2—Knows the characteristics and uses of computer software programs
Benchmark—Uses advanced features and utilities of word processors
Benchmark—Knows the common features and uses of desktop publishing software
National Science Education Standards
Content Standard F: Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
- Complete a WebQuest to African countries of their choosing to research two essential questions.
- Read and collect various forms of information from the Water in Africa website
- Choose countries, photos, and stories on which to base their recommendations.
- Write a formal persuasive report.
- Work together and play various roles in their groups.
Note: This unit was written so that the student documents can be used online or as a handout. If you have access to enough computers for your students to work online, have them download the pdf file of the WebQuest (PDF or RTF) and save it to their computers. They will then have access to it at the same time that they are using the Water in Africa site. If you prefer, you can make print copies of the file in addition to, or as an alternative to, using it online.
1. Begin the lesson by asking students to define ôsafari" and ask if anyone in the class has ever been on a safari. (Safari is a Swahili word that means journey. In Arabic, it is Safar, a journey.) Hold a discussion about safaris, asking questions such as: Why do people go on safaris? Where do people usually go—highly populated, familiar places; or unknown places? What do people do when they are on safari?
What skills, tools, or equipment does one need on a safari? Bring out ideas that people go to visit unexplored places or places they have never seen before to learn more about them. People on safari are generally adventurous and open-minded.
2. Ask students to recall camping trips, school field trips, and family vacations. How did they plan the trip, and what decisions needed to be made before the journey? Record responses on the board. Next, ask students if they have ever kept a travel journal. Ask them to identify what they have written about in their journals. Record their responses next to the safari list. These lists can later be used as a resource for ideas and inspiration.
3. Read to the class the journal entries from the book How We Crossed the West, The Adventures of Lewis and Clark, by Rosalyn Schanzer, or read aloud from Lewis and Clark's original journal: http://lewisandclarkjournals.unl.edu/. A personal travel journal or other explorer's journal could also provide examples.
4. Discuss how a journal reflects an explorer's perception of a place. Provide more examples of journal entries as needed. Ask students what types of things are recorded in journals. Their responses might include such things as dates, descriptions of a place or an event, personal feelings, narrow escapes, or quotations. Ask them to identify specific entries from the journals that you read as examples of descriptive and narrative writing that relate personal experiences.
5. Explain to the class that for the next few days they will go on a virtual safari to Africa through a WebQuest assignment. Either have the students download the WebQuest documents and save them to their computers, or distribute printed copies. Have the students read through the Introduction and the Tasks (pages 1 and 2 of the WebQuest document). Tell the students that this is a simulation, and that although their reports will not be sent to the Peace Corps, the reports will be considered and reviewed by their classmates and by several adults.
6. For homework, have your students find out as much as they can about the Peace Corps. Suggest they use encyclopedias, other books, and talk to their parents and other adults. They are also free to use the Internet. Provide URL of the Peace Corps website: http://www.peacecorps.gov.
1. Discuss what the students have learned about the Peace Corps through their homework assignment. Make sure the students understand that Peace Corps Volunteers make a commitment of two years. Prior to the start of the two-year period, they are involved in three months of training in the country where they will be serving to introduce them to the country, the culture, and their job.
2. Remind students that they are on a WebQuest to investigate the human systems that have developed in response to water conditions in Africa, and how those human systems affect the environment. Stress that this is vital information for Volunteers to know prior to starting their work.
3. Distribute the Data Collection Document (PDF or RTF). Divide the students into groups of three and explain the three job functions for each group. Direct the students to Day 1 of the WebQuest, and have them proceed with the assignment. Give assistance and clarification as needed.
4. Ten minutes before the end of the class, ask the groups to report on their day's work, and discuss any difficulties or questions that the students have.
Days 3 to 7
1. Check on the progress of each group's Data Document and be sure the students are also writing in their personal journals. Provide clarification and encouragement. Assist students in using the resources appropriately. Make sure they understand that this is a small sampling of people and places, and should not be considered as representative of entire countries, the continent of Africa, or the way that all Peace Corps Volunteers live.
2. Groups that have collected all necessary data may begin to outline and construct their reports for the Peace Corps. Have your students follow the writing process techniques recommended by your school or district.
3. You may wish to have your students create a presentation as well as a written document. Electronic presentation software such as PowerPoint or HyperStudio can be used for this purpose. Students can download the photos they have chosen and include them in the presentation, as well as the Volunteers' quotations.
Day 6 or 7
1. Have the students from one group share their completed reports with another group. Ask the groups to use the Evaluation Rubric (PDF or RTF) in their WebQuest packets to evaluate each other's reports. Collect the evaluations.
1. Conduct a class discussion about the essential questions that the students have been investigating. Make sure they understand that the issue of water is integral to sustainable life and is highly complex. Use local examples to compare the impact of people 's use of water on the environment.
2. Use the Evaluation Rubric to evaluate the final group reports. Have other adults—teachers or parents—read the reports and make comments on the content and the groups' recommendations.
Use this unit as an integration of technology into the curriculum. Instead of having the students use a paper data document, have them use the pdf or RTF format as a word processing document, as well as the pdf version of the WebQuest (PDF or RTF). Use word processing software or presentation software for their reports to the Peace Corps.
Choose one or more of the students' reports and create a simulation where students play the roles of Peace Corps staff members involved in making a training video. Roles might be project director, videographer, sound, graphics, content editor, and writer. Have the students present to this board, and then make plans to make the video. Other students could role-play the Volunteers, and still others could do further research on the country and the Peace Corps. Finally, have them make a video.
How We Crossed the West, The Adventures of Lewis and Clark, Schanzer, Rosayln, National Geographic Society, 1997.
Lewis and Clark's Journal website at http://www.lewisandclark.org/pages/storya.htm
"Explorers," Kids Discover magazine, February 1994.
"African Kingdoms," Kids Discover magazine, January 1999.
About the Author
Dany Ray is a teacher of grades 5–8 at Washington Middle School, Cairo, Georgia. She wrote the original unit and pilot tested it with her students. Maureen Wilson-Jarrard, an education technology specialist, edited and revised the unit in the WebQuest format. Dany commented on the pilot testing of this unit: ôStudents had had experience doing WebQuests and so this unit was familiar territory. The challenge was to stay focused on what they were doing at the site, recording facts, comparing concepts, sketching and writing down ideas for the final product. Overall this lesson pulled it all together for the students. There are so many countries on the site, and each delivered firsthand, primary information on water to the students. They felt an attachment to Volunteers who contributed views and photos. They discussed what they found posted on water by a Volunteer in Togo, and contrasted it with what was posted from one in Kenya. They also began to see some commonality between themselves and the people of Africa. At the conclusion of the pilot testing, I asked my students to tell me what they liked or disliked about the unit, what other students could learn from it, and what they would change. They said that integration of the computer was good, it kept their interest. They liked having the maps on the site ready to access whenever they were unsure. The Peace Corps Volunteer photos were quite interesting, even the ones with the waterborne worms. This site was real, not created by some firm, but real views, and insights."