This site is a template that can be used for a challenge-based learning activity on the oil disaster in the Gulf Coast.  Students collaboratively gather, evaluate information and analyze data in order to understand the Deepwater Horizon explosion and the resulting issues surrounding the spill for our nation and the world.  This wiki is an example of how a project might be organized. Include students in the formation of the questions and the topics to be investigated.

The resources used as examples in this site are gathered from interviews and stories collected on the C-SPAN Oil Spill  site, the C-SPAN Video Library and the C-SPAN Classroom site.  With balanced coverage and primary source video, C-SPAN provides students with a library of video sources to build a comprehensive wiki with information and analysis that will inform and teach about the spill. Providing students with a challenge to investigate, explore and teach about a current issue, national in scope, is a powerful way to help them be participatory citizens in our democracy while learning about their government and economy.

Start by brainstorming or providing students with an essential question about the disaster.

Possible Essential Question:
What guidelines should be put in place to deal with and/or prevent environment disasters or accidents such as the recent Oil Spill Crisis on the Gulf Coast?

Next provide a specific challenge to students so that they become active participants in learning about the issue.

Possible Student Challenge:
Contribute to your school and communities' understanding of a national environmental crisis and how government and citizens should best respond to these issues both locally and nationally.

Now brainstorm or discuss with students a list of issues or topics that will help them meet the challenge.  These topics will become "team investigative activities". Each team will contribute to a wiki page on a class site where they will focus on their topic and contribute information, analysis and discussion. Also brainstorm guiding questions which will help students target their research. 

Possible Guiding Questions:
  1. What do we need to know about this disaster?
  2. How do we meet the challenge of obtaining factual and objective information about this disaster?
  3. What solutions can we put in place to help our school or community understand, avoid and deal with a potential environmental crisis?
Students divide into topic teams and create pages in a shared wiki (See samples in the menu to the left.)  Students post their collected information and research on their team page. On a daily or weekly bases, the class discusses the added information. Students from each team follow the research of the other teams and post comments and questions.

Encourage students to include a variety of media in their research and activities including video, interviews, podcasts, graphics and images, and research documents. Their wiki will be a repository for the information they gather and create.

Finish and evaluate with a culminating activity.  Teams present a video, a slide presentation, a  collaborative white paper, a podcast or other media on their findings. It is their job is to inform the class, school and community about the issue and answer questions that center on their topic.  Once each team has completed their culminating activity, the class revisits the essential question, reviews the research and determines if the question and answers need further revisions. The wiki will remain active for students to continue to update as more information become available. 

Technology integrated lesson idea from Cheryl Davis, Acalanes Union High School District