The Chemicals, the Environment, and You Web site is a tool, like an overhead projector or a textbook, that can help you organize your use of the module, engage student interest in learning, and orchestrate and individualize instruction. The Web site contains the following major resources:
The Web site runs on Apple Macintosh and IBM-compatible personal computers. The minimum requirements for a Macintosh computer are the following: OS 8.5 operating system or higher, Power PC processor, 256-color monitor or higher, 32 megabytes RAM, QuickTime 4 or greater for Macintosh, Macromedia Flash 5 or greater, and Netscape Communicator or Microsoft Internet Explorer.
The minimum requirements for IBM-compatible computers are the following: Windows 95 operating system or higher, Pentium 100 processor or higher, 256-color monitor or higher, 32 megabytes RAM, Soundblaster or Windows Sound System-compatible card, QuickTime 4 or greater, Macromedia Flash 5 or greater, and Netscape Communicator or Microsoft Internet Explorer.
Before you use this Web site or any other piece of instructional software in your classroom, it may be valuable to identify some of the benefits you expect software to provide. Well-designed instructional multimedia software can:
The ideal use of the Web site requires one computer for each student team. However, if you have only one computer and Internet connection available, you still can use the Web site (for example, by using a suitable display device to show animations or videos to the whole class or by rotating teams through a computer station to access Web-based resources). If you do not have the facilities for using the Web site in your classroom, a print-based alternative for each activity that requires the Web site is included in this module.
Many of the activities in this module are designed to be completed by groups of students working together. Although individual students working alone can complete many of the specific steps, this strategy will not stimulate the types of student-student interactions that are one of the goals of active, collaborative, inquiry-based learning. Therefore, we recommend that you organize collaborative groups of between two and six students each, depending on the number of computers equipped with Internet access you have available. Students in groups larger than this will have difficulty organizing the student-computer interactions equitably, which can lead to one or two students assuming the primary responsibility for the computer-based work. Although this type of arrangement can be efficient, it means that some students do not get the opportunity to experience the in-depth discovery and analysis that the Web site was designed to stimulate.
If you are teaching all six lessons as a unit, we recommend that you keep your students in the same collaborative groups for all of the activities in the lessons. This will allow each group to develop a shared experience with the software and with the ideas and issues that the activities present. A shared experience also will enhance your students' perceptions of the lessons as a conceptual whole.
If your student-to-computer ratio is greater than six students to one computer, you will need to change the way you teach the module from the instructions in the lessons. For example, if you have only one computer available, you may want students to complete the Web-based work across an extended time period. You can do this in several ways. The most practical way is to use your computer as a center along with several other centers at which students complete other activities. In this strategy, students would rotate through the computer center, eventually completing the Web-based work that you have assigned.
A second way to structure the lessons if you have only one computer available is to use a projection system to display the computer monitor onto a screen for the whole class to see simultaneously. Giving selected students in the class the opportunity to manipulate the program in response to class suggestions and requests can give students some of the same type of autonomy in their learning that they would gain if they were working with the Web site in small teams.