About Project ESCOLAR
The goal of Project ESCOLAR is to improve science content learning for all middle school students—especially for students with learning disabilities. Participating teachers have access to online science units for their students, professional development resources, and support from project staff.
By taking part in the project, teachers not only help their students learn science; they also help inform research and practice in online science learning.
Project ESCOLAR’s Collaborative Online Learning (COL) units take advantage of project-based learning principles to engage students in science. In your classroom, students collaborate on the forum with other students in their own and other classes, watch videos and play games that teach science content, and check their understanding through interactive formative and summative evaluations.
Potential benefits for students who study with the COL units include:
- Free access to online science resources within structured lesson plans.
- Science learning gains (previously documented in studies with 5th- to 7th-grade students, including English Learners).
- Improved proficiency in academic reading.
- More positive attitudes towards science.
- Opportunities, with an online forum, to collaborate with others in their class and in other schools. Students can post their own work and discuss science concepts.
Professional development resources are designed to help teachers make the most of the COL science units with their 6th-, 7th-, and 8th-grade students.
Included in these resources are:
- Lesson plans that provide insight into what each lesson covers, key vocabulary to emphasize, and tips on integrating the concepts.
- Tutorials, such as how to manage group work in the classroom.
- Instructional and reading comprehension strategies for teaching science to students with learning disabilities.
- Curriculum materials that outline how each unit specifically aligns to the Next Generation Science Standards and Common Core State Standards.
Teachers and students participating in Project ESCOLAR have access to different COL units. Each unit focuses on one middle school (6th- to 8th-grade) science curriculum. Units incorporate concepts specific to the Next Generation Science Standards and Common Core State Standards, and are relevant to students’ everyday lives.
Knowing My Body
- is a 6th-grade life science unit that centers on the human body and encourages students to consider how their choices affect their health. Topics include cell structure, body system, and organs. Students apply these concepts to their own lives by thinking about issues as reducing obesity, the effects of smoking, and the importance of eating healthful foods. By studying what makes up the human body and how it works, students can make better decisions so that they can stay healthy.
The Mating Game
- is a 6th-grade life science mini-unit that focuses on reproduction. Topics include reproduction in plants, reproduction in cells, organism multiplication, heredity, and DNA By studying inheritance, students learn what makes them unique.
Caring for Our Planet
- is a 7th-grade life science unit that focuses on topics related to the environment, such as interactions in ecosystems, species variation, and natural and human impacts. To make learning about the environment important in their lives, students complete research projects examining local environmental issues. By studying how humans impact the environment, students discover how they can take better care of the planet.
Our Place in the Universe
- is an 8th-grade Earth and space science unit about where the Earth is located in the universe and how space systems influence life on Earth. Topics include moon phases, rotation and revolution, and the solar system. Students explore how these systems interact to produce the experience of living on Earth. By studying about Earth and space science, students become familiar with what is known and unknown about the universe, and see how they, as scientists, can investigate and make discoveries.
Each unit is structured to include multimodal and multimedia activities for students, including:
- Introduce students to content by relating their experiences to the information they will learn (for instance, students think about diseases they’ve had before learning about the immune system).
- Read and Discover: Text that teaches content (for instance, description about the digestive system)
- Bring It to Life: Links to a lab or field activity (such as having students place different organs in the human body)
- Check It Out: Links to video, game, or interactive activity (for example, an animation about the building blocks of life)
- What Do You Say? Students explore their own ideas about what they are learning (for instance, by writing and drawing about the process of diffusion in their notebooks)
- Now You Try! Students answer questions (for example, calculating their body mass index from height and weight)