Meet the Teacher
George Cassutto teaches national, state, local, and AP US history at North Hagerstown High School (NHHS) [http://bigdog.fred.net/nhhs/nhhs.html] in Hagerstown, Maryland. George has been teaching at NHHS since 1983. He also has an extensive background in social work with children. George has become very involved in helping his students learn how to use the Internet and benefit from all the information it has to offer.
(To learn more about George and his work, take a look at his Teacher Case in the Table of Contents on the left.)
In this unit, students will develop both their social science research and writing skills. Students develop position papers on a variety of topics, conducting research to formulate and support their thesis statements. The students will transmit their position papers via e-mail to other schools and educators, who in turn, will provide criticisms, comments, and additional sources of information for further research. The students' final papers will be posted to the school's World Wide Web site for global access. Each paper will have avenues for readers to respond electronically to students' position papers. These electronic commentaries will be forwarded to the students and they will respond in turn via electronic mail. This type of writing process will increase the level of communication between students and other students, between students and teachers, and between students and institutions of learning. George's students have focused on a variety of topics-- students wrote essays [http://bigdog.fred.net/nhhs/html2/apus96.htm] on issues of Constitutional rights and capital punishment and explored how issues of slavery and the union factored into the Civil War.
NOTE: While this project involves the development of essays as a medium of information exchange within the subject of Social Studies, this unit can be used in conjunction with any aspect of high school history or social science curriculum. Teachers of all subject areas can adapt student performance to include home (biographical) pages, graphics files, art work, poetry, fiction, and prose to evaluate student performance. All subject area teachers can integrate the procedures listed to develop on-line projects for their students!
In developing our lessons and activities, we made some assumptions about the hardware and software that would be available in the classroom for teachers who visit the LETSNet Website. We assume that teachers using our Internet-based lessons or activities have a computer (PC or Macintosh) with the necessary hardware components (mouse, keyboard, and monitor) as well as software (operating system, TCP/IP software, networking or dial-up software, e-mail and a World Wide Web client program, preferably Netscape, but perhaps Mosaic or Lynx). In the section below, we specify any "special" hardware or software requirements for a lesson or activity (in addition to those described above) and the level of Internet access required to do the activity.
For advice on how to adjust the plans if you have only one computer with a hook-up, see below.
We have drawn on the historical thinking standards outlined by the National Center for History in the
Schools as well as the Mid-Continent Writing Standards for grades K-12. These
standards provide excellent guidelines for teachers on how to focus social sciences
work in their classrooms.
One Computer versus Many
This unit is a great example of what can be accomplished with just a few hardware resources. Through out the unit, George and his student have had just a few computers to use for developing and publishing their essays. George worked around this problem by having students work in cooperative groups and take turns using the computers.
The plans for this unit are tailored to fit teaching situations where students have access to several computers with an Internet connection. To accommodate classrooms that do not have access to a computer lab with full Internet connections, students can work in research groups to explore Internet sites and conduct their research.
If you have only one computer with Internet access, you may choose to do one of the following: