Students' Investigations Add Up to Real DUI Lesson

By Williams, Kendra L. | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), April 22, 1998 | Go to article overview
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Students' Investigations Add Up to Real DUI Lesson


Williams, Kendra L., Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Kendra L. Williams Daily Herald Staff Writer

The seventh-graders are awed only for a moment as they watch a Schaumburg police officer's car skid across the Keller Junior High School parking lot.

Quickly remembering to be cool, one boy said, "My grandma drives faster than that."

But the calculated sophistication disappears when the students gather around a mangled two-door nearby and realize someone in the driver's seat died four months ago.

The officer created the skid marks so students could measure them and use a formula to calculate his speed. The lesson is part of a problem-based unit on drunken driving, designed to include the drunken driving theme in language arts, math, social studies and health classes to strengthen reading, writing, reasoning and analyzing skills.

So far, students have received an accident file and medical reports. They have interviewed witnesses, measured skid marks, calculated the cars' speeds and determined appropriate charges against the driver who caused the accident.

They've listened to a guest speaker from Mothers Against Drunk Driving tell a personal story and watched accident reconstructionists from the Schaumburg police department explain how they handle car accidents.

Last, they'll need to write a report explaining the charges and defend their position to the press.

"Rather than giving students information, you have them solve a problem using deductive reasoning," said Shan Haupert, one of the teachers involved in the multi-disciplinary unit. "They're going to glean a lot of information and hopefully make some educated decisions."

Problem-based learning began appearing in classrooms five or six years ago, said Mary Jane Broncato, associate superintendent for innovation and reform for the Illinois State Board of Education.

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