The most important part of your involvement is to guide your student through the steps that they will need to successfully complete a project that they will be proud of and be able to use as an example of their learning and understanding.
Your involvement will depend greatly on the assigned project, but here are a few basic suggestions:
- Ask questions.
If the directions aren't clear, or you are unsure what the assignment is, ask! It's important for families to know exactly what is required and the timeline involved.
Can you visit the mission? It's not always possible, but a tour of the mission is a wonderful experience and allows the student to put their research into a rememberable context. Encourage your child to take their own pictures. Not only does this give them a sense of ownership, but will allow them to remember more about the visit. Can't visit YOUR mission? Try visiting another mission. Most missions were built in a similar fashion and students can still benefit from seeing the layout and artifacts firsthand.
- Plan Alternatives.
Visiting a mission is great, but not always feasible. If you can't visit in person look for videos (see videotape information under the Helpful Resources Section of this website.
- Visit a librarian.
Librarians are a crucial resource--every 4th grader is required to study the Missions so it's a good bet that the librarian will have a resource in mind that will provide you with a source of information you need. There are several excellent book sources available and the library is a great place to access them.
- Look for Internet Sources.
If you're reading this page, you've already done this part, but make sure to let your child be involved. You may want to preview the sources, but let your child do their own reading and pick the information that they think fits their project. You can help guide them by asking the 'Research Questions' found at the end of this page. If they can answer these questions then they have enough information and understanding of the topic to complete their project.
A Note about Internet Sources: An important concept in Internet Research is investigating the authenticity and accuracy of online information. Websites should clearly list their author or sponsoring institution and they should also list the sources of their information when appropriate. Look for websites written by students for students--although a great project, they may not always be the best source of information on which to base a project.
- Discuss Plagiarism and how to Cite Sources.
Make sure your child understands the importance of intellectual property. Just as we wouldn't let our children steal a toy from someone's home or store, we need to make sure they understand that information and images can have owners, too. The discussion of the concept of "Fair Use and Copyright" can be found here (Cyberbee.com). Most websites will allow their information and images to be used by students, but it is important to make sure students understand that there are rules about usage and how to cite the information appropriately. Help can be found on the how to cite sources page.
- Remember it's your Child's Project.
The most important concept is your child's understanding of the Mission Period's importance, and its effects on California, Spanish, and Native American history--not whether they actually got to visit the mission or built the most accurately detailed model.