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Phase III

The following Classroom Close-Up is taken from the Teacher's Guide to Developing an I-Search Unit, a component of the Make It Happen! manual.


USING A DATABASE

Materials

  • Database program, such as Bank Street Filer (Sunburst) or Friendly Filer (Houghton-Mifflin)
  • class survey forms
  • student journals
  • note cards

Pacing

  • at least three to four periods

Classroom Close-Up

Students create a database using survey data gathered earlier in Phase I, or surveys constructed as part of Phase III. The students learn to pose questions, develop and test hypotheses, and draw conclusions about the information.

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Preparing

A few days prior to the beginning activity, Armando and Tamara familiarized themselves with how to operate a database. Tamara agreed to help the students set up the database, since she had extensive experience with it.

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Setting the Context

There were two students in Armando's class whose I-Search questions were related to the survey information gathered in Phase I. Armando knew that using a database would enable these students to probe the survey information more thoroughly.

Assembling the two students together, Armando said: "Using the information from our class survey will help you in your searches. A database is a good way for you to review some information that addresses your I-Search questions. Let's start by reviewing what a database is: a tool to help you organize, analyze, synthesize and evaluate information. You will be seeing relationships and drawing conclusions about the information."

The next day, Armando and Tamara had the students come to the computer lab. There they helped them create their database. Each survey form became a record, and each of the five questions from the surveys became a field. For example, "geographic region" and "time period" became two of the fields. The students spent two class periods entering all of the information from the 125 survey forms into their database. Tamara then demonstrated procedures to locate and sort records in a database.

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Doing the Activity

"Now that you have created the file," Armando said the next day,"it's time to pose questions that will give you the information you need." They came up with:

  • What is the relationship between the region in the United Sates where immigrants settled, and the type of work they found?

  • What is the relationship between the geographic region from which they emigrated, the major reason for the move, and the time period?

Armando had the students copy their questions in their journals. Over the next two class periods, the students worked with the computer database. Armando worked closely with his students, helping them relate the new information back to their questions. As the students worked, they took notes in their journals. They also printed out the information from the database.

When they had completed their work, Armando asked the students to discuss what they learned from the activity and how the activity helped them answer their questions with each other. Armando had the students look over their journal notes and printouts, and highlight the most critical information.

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Linking Back to the I-Search Process

Armando directed the students to transfer relevant information to their note cards. "Let's call this source a survey database," Armando said. He helped them with the bibliographic format for their reference cards. He assured the students that they could return to the database as often as they wanted during their search processes.

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