I learned of The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee through an article in Animals magazine. I created a technology integrated activity for first and second grades, based on information from the Sanctuary's web site. The students' interest and ability to use the web site themselves, fueled what became a semester long thematic curriculum unit which integrated a variety of curriculum areas and technology. Read the overview below:
Background on A Curriculum Unit:
Elephant Biographies is actually a unit within a larger integrated social studies/science/technology curriculum unit focused on endangered species. Through the curriculum unit, students learn about endangered species in general and the endangered Asian Elephant specifically. Through the lessons that enable students to create a booklet on elephant biographies students are learning to explore the Elephant Sanctuary web site (www.elephants.com), chart and analyze elephant differences and similarities, understand more about the Asian elephant species, and explore desktop publishing by creating their own work combining text and graphics (both original and from the web site) to create an elephant biographies booklet.
Learning about habitat and endangered wildlife and what can cause them to become endangered, Asian elephants, what elephants eat, what a Sanctuary is, using the elephants.com web site, emailing the elephants (or more precisely their caretakers), starting and adding to the Elephant Biographies wall chart.
Overall Objective for Curriculum Unit:
Students will understand the concept of endangered species (for example, the importance of natural habitat for a species) and the Asian elephant in particular. Students will understand how we can help protect endangered species.
Students will create an Elephant Biographies Booklet using current information provided through the Elephant Sanctuary web site. Each student will create at least two pages about one of the Elephant Sanctuary Elephants . Students will also create a cover page and index pages and help complete a chart comparing and contrasting history, facts and stories about the elephants now at the Sanctuary. The pages of the book will be compiled into a ClarisWorks slideshow and students will present their book to classmates, parents.
Students involved in the curriculum unit learned of the elephant Winkie, who at the time was at a Wisconsin Zoo. These first and second grade students planned Winkie Day, a fund raiser at the school. They also wrote a letter to the zoo encouraging the zoo to release Winkie to the Sanctuary. In September, 2000, the students work paid off and wishes came true when Winkie started her new life at the Sanctuary.
Special thanks to the help of the Elephant Sanctuary's director, Carol Buckley, who encouraged the children and answered all their questions about the elephants, via email, through out the unit.