I created this unit to address curriculum needs in Science, Technology, Language Arts and Art. Student work samples are used to meet several Grade 5 benchmarks.
In the Salmon Forum unit students assume the role of people dealing with the issue of declining salmon runs in the Pacific Northwest. These roles include those of loggers, fisherfolk, Native Americans, aluminum plant mangers, fish & wildlife workers and environmentalists. Students study the salmon problem from the point of view of their assumed roles. They write a position paper describing what they are able to do to solve the problem, what they are not able to do and what the cost might be. Students also prepare to present and defend their positions orally in a public salmon forum.
One innovative part of this unit is the use of the Internet. I created a salmon listserv and gathered over 200 salmon experts from all over the world to serve as resources via e-mail. I also created The Salmon Page. This page is a collection of salmon links and information to help my class in researching salmon issues. I was surprised at our success in that our web page has had over 250,000 hits in the 4 years since we first published it. Even though I no longer teach this unit I still maintain the page for the 300 - 500 daily visitors.
The best way for you to see what the Salmon Forum is all about is to read some of the supporting documents and then sample some student work.