Hometown Menu

Language Arts Activity

Students will use their knowledge of menus and their organizational skills to create a plan for a computer presentation about their community.

WHAT YOU NEED

WHAT TO DO

  1. Ask students to describe how they use a menu in a restaurant. Discuss how a menu offers a diner different options, or choices. Explain that computer software programs also use menus. If you have a computer available, demonstrate how to access a computer menu.

    Ask students if they are familiar with public computer terminals that allow people to select from a menu in order to get information about a place like a city's historical district, a museum, or a supermarket. Encourage students to discuss their experience with these terminals or with any other type of menu.

  2. Tell students that they are going to create a plan in the form of a flowchart for a computer program to tell about important features of their community. The flowchart will have a starting list, or menu, that will "take" users to the information they want.

  3. Initiate a discussion in which students suggest what places in their city/town they would like to feature. Encourage them to name places that would be of interest both to visitors and people new to the area, such as parks, beaches, recreation areas, theaters, museums, religious institutions, shopping areas, hospitals, and transportation sites. List, or have a student recorder list, the ideas. Narrow down the list by having the class vote for the five to ten they think are most important.

  4. Divide the class into five groups, each of which is responsible for learning more about one or two menu items and compiling information about them. This information can include a description, perhaps some history, directions on how to get there (including a simple map), a picture, telephone numbers for more information, and operating hours.

  5. Have students experiment with laying out how they want the information to flow from the initial menu. Encourage them to consider planning for several levels of branching information. When the group is satisfied with the flow, have them enter the information on the posterboard or drawing paper.

  6. Invite other classes to view the flowcharts to find out more about their city/town.

TEACHING OPTIONS

If you have a hypertext program, have students put their hometown menus into stacks and include graphics. Then, put the programs on disks and share them with other classrooms in your school and in different parts of the country. If you have access to the World Wide Web, you might also consider having students create a website for your community using based on an amalgamation of their flowcharts.

Have small groups of students at a time visit city home pages on the World Wide Web. Before anyone goes on-line, develop a list of cities in the United States that the class would like to know more about. Have students spend a set time exploring the home page. Arrange to have a printer available, so that the information can be shared. (A good source for city information online is CityNet at http://www.city.net.)


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