Grades 3-6
Guide to Unit Projects

What is a Unit Project?
A Unit Project is a long-term, hands-on collaborative student project. Students are introduced to a Unit Project near the beginning of their study of a science unit, and they continue developing it as they progress through the unit. Often a Unit Project is multidisciplinary, combining elements of science, math, social studies, language arts, music, and fine arts. A Unit Project can involve model-building, research, and a presentation to the larger community. At the completion of a Unit Project, students can share their results online.

When should I use a Unit Project?
You can use a Unit Project whenever you teach a unit of study and would like your students to apply their knowledge of science content in a broader context. Unit Projects provide an opportunity for students to collaborate in small groups and, ultimately, to display their results to other students, to parents, and to the wider community.

How should I prepare for the use of a Unit Project?
Read through all of the listed "Project Links" to get an overview of the student tasks to be completed. You may wish to read the printable scoring rubric listed under Student Resources. Houghton Mifflin has screened every Internet site selected for the Unit Project. However, sites may change after the screening process. Therefore, you may want to preview them yourself. It is recommended that you supervise and monitor your students whenever they are using the Internet.

Do my computers need special plug-ins for the sites listed on Education Place?
Whenever possible, Houghton Mifflin has indicated whether special plug-ins are needed for a particular site. Before students visit the Internet sites, you may want to download some plug-ins, such as QuickTime, SoundMachine, RealPlayer, Acrobat Reader, Shockwave, Crescendo, or HyperStudio Player to allow your students to reap the benefits of interactive sites.

How can I assess my students' work on a Unit Project?
Under the heading Student Resources you can find a printable scoring rubric that will guide you in assessing the outcome of your students' work on a Unit Project.

How can I use computer technology with the Unit Project?
After your students have visited the sites suggested for the Unit Project, you may wish to have them use computer software to organize, examine, and evaluate information from their Internet visits. For example, they can prepare a table with the following headings: Internet Site, URL, Content Description, New Terms, and Unit Project Summary. Using computer software, students can extract and graph pertinent quantitative data from the site. When appropriate, students can use software to create charts and maps of science content gleaned from Internet site visits.


People and Places
Listed here are the names, street addresses, and Internet sites of people, agencies, and organizations that can be valuable resources to you and your students as they develop their Unit Project.

Ask an Expert!
The Internet site(s) of online content experts are listed. The experts answer online questions posed to them. They may also provide an archive of previously answered questions.

Student Resources
Included here are printable Student Resources that can help your students in their development of the Unit Project.



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