Years ago (mid 80’s) the
Illinois State Board of Education
supplied a free 800 access number.
With a phone line and modem, I accessed bulletin boards, looked at
Mosaic and thought of the wonderful educational possibilities. if
only..... I communicated with other
pioneers as the Internet trickled down to the common educator.
Soon came AOL (yes, there was
a version 1.0). I quickly found the
HyperStudio forum and began exchanging stacks with other teachers, learning,
teaching, and showcasing kids projects.
Nine years ago, I was lucky
enough to be in the right place at the right time. Publishing on the Internet was in it’s infancy and a beginner
could easily learn the basics of html.
I began publishing a web site for our school. At that time, it was hosted by a local
ISP, now we have our own district server.
I still do it - volunteering my time.
AT&T’’s Virtual Classroom
contest really allowed me to get students ‘officially’ involved in breaking
out of their small universe. I
learned that collaborating with teachers and students around the world not
only opened my world, but also that of the students. The fourth and final year of the Contest,
our Class: Oak Park, Tokyo, Sydney, came in first place and won a trip to
Virtual Classroom is now an
elective class open to 40 seventh and eighth grade students each year. It
emphasizes collaboration and telecommunication both in the class and the
world. Students learn effective communication with different ages and
cultures. They celebrate varied talents, combining those talents to create a
product greater than one individual could create alone. They learn how to
learn, being exposed to many new software products and educational themes;
best of all, they learn to become independent, self directed learners.
Students receive a request or choose an interesting topic, divide the work,
research, create, discuss, develop, and produce the topic with teacher
guidance. Not all ideas make it to full production, but all are discussed.
Success is seeing them work on weekends, during vacations, even after they
are no longer in the class some have asked if they can still add just one
One of the most inspiring
examples of student dedication was a child named Frank who spent several
weeks of his summer vacation reading words into his computer because one of
the teachers from Taiwan was working on creating a computer program for her students that would model American
English pronunciation. Frank used Qualcom’s PureVoice to read things like
“cat, cat, this is a cat”. He
attached about 10 words at a time to an email and I broke them apart creating
individual QuickTime files that I sent to Su Chin. We’d worked with Su Chin and students in Taiwan creating a site
about our school lives. The following
year we again partnered with the Taiwan Junior Highs creating a holidays
site. Unfortunately Taiwan hosted the
site which no longer exists, but our portion is mirrored on our own site.
At the end of last year,
4Teachers.org interviewed 10 of our VC kids and wrote a feature article about
them in their webzine.
Since 1996 we’ve had a weekly
CUSeeMe video conference with kids from North Dublin National School Project.
The kids change, but the exchange continues, discussing everything from the
War in Bosniz to Beanie Babies. Last year they helped us with our Tobacco
Fairy Tale/Folk Tale
CyberDictionary is a project that started while I was teaching an adult class
in collaborative learning. Over the
past three years many primary teachers have joined the project. I support them as needed, some a whole lot;
some just posting their work. There
are several teacher additions to the site as they’ve shared how the project
impacted their class and their teaching. My older students use the little
kid’s drawings as they learn to
create animated gifs which are then reposted to the site. Teachers have told us their students LOVE seeing the drawings
come to life! Judi Harris has written
about our project in an article in ISTI and Education World also wrote a
feature article and asked to include the site and lesson plan in their
Adler Planetarium in Chicago
initiated a program last Spring in which students learned about Black Holes,
created their idea of what a black hole was, then posted their projects,
commented on other student’s projects, and received comments on their work.
They were then able to improve their original work, and repost. I helped a
7th grade team (students and teachers) during my planning period.
of final projects: http://www.op97.org/instruct/blackhole/
Now in it’s fourth year is our
Teen Zine called Cyberteen. Kids in
Rome, Kobe, and Oak Park (all ages 12-14) write about their world and share
it with their partners. Sometimes, as
happened this fall, they will add to each other’s work. Kobe has an annual jazz festival, our kids
are great jazz fans. Both worked on
the Jazz site. Our biggest project
working together has been and continues to be the Harry Potter section of the
magazine. The kids from all three schools have created portions of the
site. Sometimes drawing, sometimes
writing, sometimes translating (Italian to English or English to Italian.) This year they are adding Fantastic
the request of the Japanese teacher, the site was also entered in INPAKU,
a Japanese contest celebrating the year of the Internet.
It took a great many emails from Saito-san for me to understand how
to fill out all the forms. Almost
everything was only in Japanese! He
speaks English a little, so took pictures of the forms, drew arrows, and
emailed me the pictures. In the end, we did it, and are now part of
(This ended December31, 2002)URL Inpaku: http://www.op97.org/cyberteen/inpaku/ The collaborative process provides a rich learning experience for teachers and students alike. As an instructor of adults, I’ve taught several classes whose goal was an engaged learning, telecollaborative unit. This summer I was able to create a class working with West 40 (our educational service center). It involved 12 teachers and 12 classes of students divided into 4 “Pods”. Each Pod was given the task to convince middle school students not to use tobacco. Using a forum I created: [http://126.96.36.199/quake] they are able to talk to and exchanged information with the other members of their pods. Projects are in the process of being posted if they can be. Some larger videos are being shared by mail. Students in two of the pods will meet for a mini-conference, seeing each other face to face and presenting their projects. Besides the actual “class time” these teachers continue to receive a great deal of email and face to face support. From one participant’s email: ============= Our index page for T3 is really coming along! We're about one class period away from finishing and posting it. All of my more capable students pitched in and truly collaborated on this part of the project, although some didn't even sign up for T3. I'm excited about this because I really didn't think I could get it up, especially after hitting a dead end one day on a Wednesday afternoon. So, thanks for teaching me, but more importantly thanks for teaching Heather! On another note, I was locked out of the lab today and couldn't find anyone to open the door until half-way through 6th period. T.C. came to the rescue and made some phone calls. Someone might show up with a key on Monday morning. Hope you don't mind signing it out for me. If I had a key this weekend, I'm sure I would go in and finish this project. I can hardly stand to wait until Monday! ============= URL: http://t3.west40.k12.il.us Summer is a good time for inspiring teachers to work, and last summer I lead two workshop days in which teachers from telecollaborative project classes I taught were able to come together to polish their projects and publish the lessons in such a way that other teachers could try them out. We stressed taking these and aligning them to the Illinois Standards. URL: http://ilsi.ltc1c.k12.il.us In the early years of creating Julian School’s website, I also produced daily tech tidbits. I no longer do this but now work with a group of teachers in our district to produce TechTips. URL: http://www.op97.org/pub/techtips/ Presentations have been made at our local and StateWide conferences for over 15 years, and two years at NSBA’s Technology + Learning Conference.
I'm so pleased to be able to write this recommendation for Janet Barnstable. I cannot think of any educator more worthy of this nomination than her.
Janet and I have done a number of online projects together, the most notable of which were our 1998 and 1999 entries in the AT&T Virtual Classroom Contest. Janet's
dedication to those projects was amazing. She put forward effort way beyond what most teachers would be
prepared to do. She is a lady who is totally committed to the ideas of educating using the Internet. The fact
that, working together, we placed third in the 1998 contest and were the overall global winners of the 1999
contest was no coincidence. Prior to me meeting her, Janet was also a member of the second place winning team
in 1997. This is a woman who understands the demands and advantages of teaching using the Net.
Some of Janet's other projects were an Anti Smoking site which won national acclaim; an ongoing project with students from Ireland, Italy, Holland and Australia; online youth webzines, the list is seemingly endless'. And as I said, these are just the ones I've heard about. The thing with Janet is she always seems to have many projects on the go at one time, and she always seems to give each one of them her 100% effort. I think that's what I find so amazing and inspiring about her.
Some of Janet's other projects were an AntiSmoking site which won national acclaim; an ongoing project with students from Ireland, Italy, Holland and Australia; online youth webzines, the list is seemingly endless'. And as I said, these are just the ones I've heard about. The thing with Janet is she always seems to have many projects on the go at one time, and she always seems to give each one of them her 100% effort. I think that's what I find so amazing and inspiring about her.
I think I have probably learned more about online learning and collaboration from Janet than anyone else I've ever met. In fact I could probably say I've learned more about education generally from Janet than anyone else. She has a knack of inspiring those around her to do great things, and that is probably the biggest compliment I can pay her.
Do I think she deserves this award' You bet!"
"Janet Barnstable exemplifies a person who enjoys her work and is able to share her skills, knowledge and expertise with students and with fellow educators. I am a fellow educator, and am fortunate to have met Janet Barnstable, and to have gotten to know Janet on several different levels, as a colleague, college adult educator, and as a friend.
I have taken several courses taught by Janet that have been offered through our local Department of Education, West 40, and each course has been an exciting, challenging learning experience for me. Janet never fails to amaze me with her vast knowledge of the computer and the software world. She generously and patiently shares her knowledge and expertise with all members of the class. She is able to encourage students, adults and young students, at whatever level the students are at. She is able to offer support at both ends of the learning experience both expert levels, as well as encourage the computer ""newbie."" She encourages the use of technology in order to integrate all aspects of the curriculum. Not only is Janet an outstanding professional role model, but she is also an outstanding educator on a personal level. She makes herself available, even on weekends for support and help, not just as a techie, but as warm, personable friend, and fellow voyager through cyberspace.
One of the personable aspects of Janet's style of teaching is that Janet encourages and seems to arrange the professional technological classroom teaching situation in such a way that her classes encourage collaboration among other teachers. It is through this collaboration that she encourages, that I have personally met many fellow teachers like myself, from other school, districts, and other teaching situations. Janet sets up the classroom in such a way that it is a very collegial experience and supportive atmosphere, so that we all grow professionally, technologically, and personally from networking with other teachers that we meet through Janet's encouragement.
In addition to the coursework that I have taken with Janet, I have attended conventions and conferences and have been able to sit in on sessions and experience Janet's work that she presents at the conferences. I have seen Janet's products, as well as the products her Middle School students produce. It is amazing the level of expertise that she is able to guide and encourage her Middle School students to attain.
Janet is not one to sit back comfortably, and let technology happen. She keeps up on the current developments in computer hardware and software, and is able to communicate to her students, in her classes about the successes, developments and glitches that occur in the computer world. I feel that Janet is always on the ""cutting"" edge of technology.
Janet's influences go far beyond the classroom. She makes a positive impact on all who she comes in contact with. She is an inspiration to students at all educational levels. It is with the greatest of pleasure that I write this brief testimony."
"It is my privilege for recommend Janet Barnstable for this award. Janet and I first worked together seven years ago on the development of District 97 web site (http://www.op97.k12.il.us). Janet has always been an educational technology pioneer and the Oak Park Elementary School web site was one of the foremost school websites. With her leadership and creativity, the web site has gone on to win several awards.
Janet and I also taught several Intermediate Service Center West 40 courses: Connecting to the Internet and Enternet, being two of the most popular. Teachers were able to rethink their crafting of the teaching/learning environment using technology. Three teachers who participated went on to present what they had learned at state conferences and won awards for their innovative efforts. Janet brought a high level of technical expertise to this teachers, enabling them to learn to use the powerful tools of the Internet faster and more efficiently.
We have also been active in providing other professional development opportunities for teachers in the school district, such as ""Graphics for Teachers,"" ""Teacher Web Workshops,"" and Instructional Technology Institute Days in 1999 and 2000.
Janet has also been a leader and a teacher for the Young Technologists Conference held every year for the last five years. She shows younger students how to create tech products in an hour. Tessalations has been her most popular offering.
Tech Expo! is the school district's showcase of instructional technology projects that Janet has led for the past eleven years. Each year teachers and their students demonstrate their technology skills for teachers and for parents and the community. Janet has organized all the logistics for this huge event.
The Instructional Technology Development Committee of the school district initiated several telecollaborative projects for the district such as ""Voting, "" and ""The Heat is On,"" which directly tied to the curriculum. Janet provided the innovative ideas and leadership to make these projects possible.
As a member of the Instructional Technology Development Committee and the Tech Users Committee of District 97, Janet has brought her vision and leadership to the entire district community. She is a major contributor of ""Tech Tips,"" which are quick reference guides to teacher who need just a few, easy steps to working a digital camera or taking a screen shot. Also an active participant in the local Intermediate Service Center's West 40 Technology Coordinators' meetings, Janet is held in high regard among her fellow educators from the surrounding school districts.
Janet has been a featured presenter at the national conference of the National School Board Association conference, the Illinois Computing Educators Conference and the Role of Tech Conference in Illinois. Her presentations are always well received and she is solicited to do inservice for other schools.
Janet is truly an outstanding educator!"
I first came into contact with Janet in 1996 when I was working with a post graduate research student trying to set up CUSeeMe Videoconferencing in our school. We searched the web for possible contacts and were so fortunate to come across Janet's name. She was unbelievably helpful and I can guarantee that we would never have succeeded without her. The time difference of 6hrs between Chicago and Dublin posed some problems but Janet always had the solution. Once a few years later when we gave a paper at the Computer Society of Ireland Conference in Dublin Janet organised to have some of her students in her house early on a Saturday morning so we could do a live link. Janet and her students in Julian Percy school have been videoconferencing with children in our school for the past 5 years on a weekly basis. We have shared enriching and rewarding experiences during these. Janet is a wonderful person to work with. She never seems to take anything as a problem - rather she sees it as a challenge and is always makes me feel that it is a pleasure for her to be flexible when something needs to be changed or a problem has arisen. I have worked with a number of other teachers around Europe but never have I met anyone as accommodating and as thoughtful as Janet. We have worked on a number of web pages together -writing reports on videoconferences we have had and also enterend an Eircom Competition in Dublin jointly and achieved 2nd Prize for the videoconferencing project we were running. We contributed to their on-line magazine and Janet sent us a copies - the children were thrilled. Our school has beenefited enormously from working with Janet. We are a multi-denominational primary school in Dublin and part of the ethos of the school is to reach out and work and learn from other people around the world. Janet has certainly facilitated and warmly welcomed us in doing this. The impat on the school has been so great that our Principal is very anxious to also write a testimonial.
Janet has strongly encouraged me (and thus my class) to get involved in many on-line activities. In 1997, she encouraged me to get involved in the ENTERNET 97 project- a state funded project to get teachers to create on-line learning opportunities for their students. Janet taught me how to create web pages and structure an on-line learning experience. With Janet's guidance I created The H.O.W.L. Project- a project where my students surveyed others from around the world on their thoughts and perceptions of wolves. Janet was there to guide both my students and I every step of the way. It was a great learning experience for all involved and it would not have been possible without Janet. This continued in 1998-99 when Janet encouraged my students and I to get involved in the AT&T Virtual Classroom Contest. I attended a session at the annual statewide technology conference in which Janet explained the many benefits of this contest. Through her guidance we survived our first year and created an award-winning web page with students from Australia and Russia. Janet was of the most assistance with the setting up of teleconferencing between the three counties- using the CU-See Me software. I can honestly say that I would not have taken the risk of getting my students involved and my students would not have reaped the benefits of this project without Janet's guidance and expertise.
I have had the opportunity to see Janet in action- teaching students at District 97's annual Young Technologist Conference. Janet has the knack for getting students excited about technology- through her lessons on tessellations and creating animated GIFs, students have learned the endless possibilities of creating a unique design or animation you can call your very own.
In closing, I can honestly say that without Janet many of the opportunities that I have given my students in the past few years would not have happened. She has the innate ability to inspire others- both students and teachers- to do great things, to reach for higher goals, and to take risks. Janet is a leader in all facets of technology and very deserving of this award."