Student Audience

The students are from Garrett Middle School which is located in Garrett, Indiana (a rural area of Dekalb County). It is part of a system called Garrett-Keyser-Butler Community School District. There are a total of three buildings within this system, which are all centrally connected: J.E. Ober Elementary School, Garrett Middle School, and Garrett High School. The enrollment for the system is growing with 1749 students, 535 of which are currently in the middle school. The middle school houses grades five through eighth. There are thirty certified staff members including four special education teachers and two guidance counselors, eight teachers’ aids, a school psychologist and nurse for the corporation. Our building is the newest in the corporation, just three years old. It has many new technologies including projectors with Smartboards, student and teacher computers in every room, a separate science lab, and a computer lab and television studio. It also has a computer lab in the library and two portable Mac cart lap top computers. The community is one that is driven by the railroad and manufacturing industries. Many of students within this community come from economically disadvantaged homes. Approximately, 49% of the middle school students qualify for free and reduced lunch services and 10% of the students that qualify for special resource services in the middle school. The general education classes are between twenty-two and twenty-eight students per class. The class for this project is made up of 15 girls and 9 boys. Three of the students have been identified with learning disabilities, one of the students is labeled as an English new language (ENL) student and four students are in the schools National Junior Honor Society. During this class, there is also a teachers’ aid in the classroom.

The student’s information literacy skills are varied. Some of them have taken a computer applications and typing course, but others that are in band or choir have not had that opportunity. Lamb sited the American Library Association when she said, “to be information literate, a person must be able to recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information.” These students have had opportunities in previous classes to find information and develop an end product. In fifth grade all students do famous scientist reports and in sixth grade they do science fair reports. With the new laptop computers purchased for the school district by the time they reach eighth grade they have had many different experiences in using the Mac laptops and the programs on them.

The students of Garrett Middle School are much like any other student around the state. All enjoy working with new technology and incorporating this into the classroom setting. They also enjoy being active and involved in the school, community, and with friends. Keeping the students motivated is a challenge. Some are motivated by grades, others are not. But all are anxious when starting a new unit, because they know there will be a laboratory activity for them so they can use hands on skills to help make the information come alive. For this unit it is my goal to include using the available technology and making a new creative way for the students to learn about the planets. In doing this, the students will get a firsthand experience at an inquiry based project and how technology can be utilized to make learning more than something that comes from the textbook.