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Student excitement flows through project

December 18, 2003
Modoc County Record

The River Center has many enlightened young friends including Norma Franklin's entire fifth grade class at Alturas Elementary.

The students are excited about sharing their knowledge with other fourth through sixth grade students and have created a "by students, for students" Powerpoint turned video presentation about the local watercycle and watershed to the River Center in Alturas.

Following a premiere showing on December 11 in Franklin's classroom, students giggled with surprise at hearing their own voices on the presentation for the first time. They are collectively proud of their accomplishments.

The excitement began through a community-based study unit on the local water cycle and Pit River watershed, developed by Franklin and Joyce Prisco, in compliance with California State Academic Standards for fifth grade. Franklin graciously allotted the "large amount of instruction time involved" to Joyce Prisco, who is in her final stage of the CalState TEACH credentialing teaching program.

Prisco, of Alturas, carried out the instruction in Franklin's class, with the first four weeks of integrating science, language arts, math and social studies with hands-on investigations, written work, demonstrations, games and other educational activities.

Field trips to the River Center and Modoc National Wildlife Refuge were taken mid-way through the unit. Students took photographs, participated in a guided walk and activities at the Refuge (Prisco leading activities), and listened to Laura VanAcker give a tour of the River Center.

The final five weeks of the unit were spent developing a Powerpoint presentation (integrating technology into the unit, as well) on the water cycle and watershed, from historical perspectives when Alturas was known as Dorris Bridge to the new River Center project.

For this section, students wrote the scripts, brought in photographs for the program to supplement photos of River Center exhibits. They further broke down their scripts into segment narrations and recordings for single slides and selected the photos to go with each slide. The students arranged photos and narrations on each slide (handling sizing of photos, size and color of text fonts).

Some 80 hours into the project and realizing it was "way more work with 30 students than originally thought," the students and Prisco were excited about the special conclusion.

The final result is a 16-minute long Powerpoint educational color presentation created "by students, for students," in their own words and voices. The presentation is being transformed into a video, as a gift to the River Center to use for classrooms. It prepares students for a visit to the River Center.

Present for the premiere showing last Thursday afternoon were Paula Fields, River Center Education Coordinator; River Center Assistant Laura VanAcker, Modoc National Wildlife Refuge Manager Steve Clay and class teacher Norma Franklin.

After viewing the special oral and visual presentation, Fields emphatically told the students it was "so impressive." She asked permission of the class, "If it's okay with you, may the Conservation district make copies to mail out to River Center members?" Her request was enthusiastically received and the water cycle, watershed story flows on.

Certificates of achievement and appreciation were presented to the class and Prisco, followed by everyone enjoying brownies and juice/punch.

The River Center is a project sponsored by Central Modoc Resource Conservation District in cooperation with the Modoc County Office of Education.

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