1. Description of Our Community
Wabash County is located about in the middle of Indiana, but a little bit to the north. The Wabash River runs through our county. There are many acres of good, flat farmland. Farming has always been important and there are many businesses related to agriculture. There are many small, family-owned businesses in our community. The largest town is Wabash. There are also some smaller towns in our county: North Manchester, Lagro, LaFountaine, Roann, Urbana, Sommerset, Laketon. There are three school districts in our county: Wabash City, Metropolitan School District of Wabash County, and Manchester Community Schools. Many times these schools are rivals, like when they play a basketball or football game. There is one organization that involves kids from all parts of the county. This is 4-H. During the Wabash County Fair kids from many different schools get to know each other and become friends.
2. Summary of Our Project
Our project is about the Wabash County 4-H Fair. To start, we made a web so we could think of many different community connections to the fair. We asked a lot of questions! Then we talked about how we could find the answers. We listed people that we could interview and places we could visit. We wrote letters to the local newspaper asking them to put an article in their paper about our project. People loaned us photographs, 4-H awards, and 4-H projects. They told us about their 4-H Fair memories. We invited parents to come in each week to help us with our project. We read old newspaper articles and information that the Wabash County Extension Office sent us. We made appointments and did telephone interviews from our classroom. We took a trip to visit a food company and an ice company that do a lot of business with food booths during fair week. We talked with people who run the food booths. Some are a business and others are organizations making money for their group. We made a list of pictures we needed and then took a trip around town to take the pictures. We asked the museum curator for pictures of fairs from a long time ago. We talked with the County Health Department, the County Highway Department, firemen, and with people from the Republican and Democrat parties. We talked with business people who have displays at the fair. We made surveys and asked people some opinions about the fair. We learned that the county fair has been popular for many, many years. Its original purpose was to give farmer's a chance to show off their crops and animals. We learned that it takes many volunteers to run the fair. We learned that many businesses are involved with the fair. We learned that the fair is a popular place for everyone in the county to gather together for a good time.
3. Our Computer and Internet Access
A. Percentage of students using the Internet at home:21-50%
B. Number of workstations with Internet access in the classroom:2-3
C. Connection speed used in the classroom:dedicated connection
D. Number of years our classroom has been connected to the Internet:more than 6
4. Problems We Had To Overcome
The greatest problem is that this class only meets one day a week. It is hard to remember information or what has been done when the project is spread out over so long a period of time. We really had to work hard to stay organized and know what needed done each week. It helped that we made a time line at the beginning of the project. Also, many students agreed to do work on their own during the week between classes. While we are lucky to have several computers, they are not networked so we have to save our information on disks. Even though we have charts to write down what the file names are, we sometimes have trouble remembering what is saved where. Another problem was naming files. Every student could recite the "rules" for naming files, but when it was actually time to apply them, they would forget. They would mix upper and lower case letters, insert punctuation marks or spaces, or make the names longer than eight letters. And sometimes, they were so creative naming the files that the rest of us couldn't guess the identity! Next time, to solve many of these problems, we will name all of the files in advance. If a page is fair.htm then the graphics will be fair1.jpg, fair2.jpg, etc. That way it will be obvious what goes together and all of us will be able to recognize the files. The project involved so much new learning that it was a challenge for one teacher to be able to answer all the questions. Fourth grade students are not experienced at working independently so they seemed to spend a lot of time "waiting". To help with this problem, we developed student "experts" for each task so there was always someone available to help even if the teacher was busy. We also invited parents and older students to assist.
5. Our Project Sound Bite
Our participation is Cyberfair has given students, parents, and community members an opportunity to see real learning in action.
6. How did your activities and research for this CyberFair Project support standards, required coursework and curriculum standards?
This Cyberfair project fits beautifully with the recently published Indiana standards. During the project the students were actively implementing the following language arts standards for grade four: Students read and understand appropriate material: ask and respond to essential questions, compare information from several sources, read expository tests, including magazines, newspapers, reference materials, and online information.
Students write clear sentences and paragraphs that develop a central idea; including drafting, revising, and editing.
Students are introduced to writing informational reports including researching and organizational strategies. Writing demonstrates an awareness of the audience and purpose for writing.
Students listen critically and respond appropriately to oral communication.
The project is especially appropriate for fourth graders because our social studies requirements are for state history including our local community. Using the Internet as our final product provides a real audience. Students are motivated to proofread and edit because they know their work will be viewed by many people. Presenting their information through a web page allows students to share with all family members, even those who live far away. Also, with the busy lifestyle of most families, many parents have difficulty coming to a presentation that is scheduled for one time and place. With the Internet, the families can share their child's work at their own convenience.
When I asked the students what they learned, they focused on technology:learning to use a scanner, digital camera, tape recorder, making a web page, moving files. No one mentioned the language skills from the standards. They weren't even aware of how much work they put in doing "regular" school work(researching, writing, editing, revising, listening, questioning, decision making, working cooperatively) because they were so intrigued with the technology aspect.