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Jane Thom

Teacher Bio
Jane Thom teaches ESL at Charlestown High School, a School to Career school. A first time TeachNet Learn and Serve awardee, she encourages her students, many of them new immigrants, to combine technology with community awareness, She also hopes that with continued interest in community structures, her students will make their own communities better places for all. Away from the classroom, Jane's passion for Amazon Rainforests often takes her on South American treks.

Subject Areas
English Language Arts, Science, Social Studies

Grade Levels
9 - 12

Bilingual/ESL high schoolers mentor Bilingual/ESL middle schoolers.


Community Bridges ~ Real & Virtual


Key Question How does learning about bridges lead to improved academic skills and stronger community tolerance?

Overview Bridges! From Brooklyn, to Madison, to the River Kwai, bridges connect shores and highways, and bring together people. Inspired by the nearby construction of the world's widest cable-stayed bridge, ESL students use the Internet to research and build models of various bridge structures. They learn about Leonard P. Zakim, the civil rights activist for whom the bridge is named, and visit Bunker Hill, a local national monument. Working together to share results, they launch a Web Site on Famous Bridges and invite middle school students to a Learning Festival where they exhibit and explain their own models, boards, video, and slide shows. Making real and virtual connections, these young engineers recognize the need to build tolerance and respect within diverse communities.

Active Exploration + Applied Learning + Adult Connections
Classroom Activities
Community Activities
Career Activities
Agree to study Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge & other famous bridges.
Conduct Internet research.
Design & build bridge models using workbook & NOVA Online Site.
Research Leonard P. Zakim & Battle of Bunker Hill.
Participate in filming an explanatory video.
Design & build a Web Site.
Design & produce computer slide shows, posters, games & brochures about bridges for presentations.
Invite peers & middle school students to Learning Festival.
Photograph the Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge & the Bunker Hill Monument.
Hold discussion groups on the roles of Leonard P. Zakim in the Anti-Defamation League of New England & the Patriots in the American Revolution.
Display posters throughout school.
Present models, videos, boards & computer slide show to peers, middle school students & invited guests at Learning Festival.
Exhibit models in school library.
Meet with local librarian to learn how to conduct research.
Interview Park Ranger about National Park Services opportunities.
Invite pre-engineering instructor to classroom for lesson on bridges.
Discuss architects' & engineers' roles in designing bridges.
Explore jobs & skills related to building bridges.
Research how Leonard P. Zakim served the community.

Academic Rigor

Learning Standards English Language Arts and Science
Use various formats & technology to complete & enhance work.
Understand & express different point of views,
Word process, desktop publish & incorporate multimedia in published reports.
Make effective presentations.
Understand, analyze, evaluate & respond effectively to oral presentations.
Collaborate on project that applies learning to educate others.
Obtain information from a variety of sources.
Understand & use the writing process effectively.
Understand how humans use technology & the design process to respond to the natural world & to solve everyday problems.

School to Career Competencies

Communicate and understand ideas and information.
Collect, analyze and organize information.
Identify and solve problems.
Use technology.
Initiate and complete entire activities.
Act professionally.
Interact with others.
Take responsibility for career and life choices.


Teacher and students meet weekly for evaluations of Web Site, Computer Slide Shows and oral presentations based on appearance, effectiveness, and content accuracy.

Software or Materials Used For Slide Shows, Web Site, and Video: Microsoft Word, Microsoft PowerPoint, Dreamweaver, PhotoShop, floppy disks, CD-Rs, digital camera, video camera, MiniDVD tapes, VCR tapes, printer, CD burner; for Bridge Models: tongue depressors, Popsicle sticks, glue, and various materials for connectors, cables, etc.; for instructional support Program: USMA Bridge Design CD Workbook from The West Point Bridge Design Contest, 2003: Jacobs Civil Inc. and BSCES Infrastructure Group.

Teacher Developed Materials Video - Introduction of Bridges Project; PowerPoint Directions adapted from NOVA Online.

Student Developed Materials Computer Slide Presentations; Microsoft Word Presentations; Web Site; Brochures; Posters; Games; Model Bridges.

Web Sites NOVA ONLINE good overview; The Big Dig lots on Leonard P Zakim Bridge; Bunker Hill Monument from Boston Freedom Trail: New England Region Anti Discrimination League tribute to Leonard P. Zakim.

Final Words It's been fun! Not only do we recognize bridge types wherever they are, but we learn to appreciate these structures. The Leonard P Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge holds new meaning after reading about the man and local history. This project connects the dots between community structures and community attitudes. We build more than models. We build bridges of understanding.

Teacher Tip Project success depends on computer access so students can complete bridge building activities. Make sure to schedule plenty of time in the library or multi-media center.

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