1. Description of Our Community
Wabash County is in north central Indiana. It is mostly rural with a few small towns. Three public school corporations cover the county. There is one private college campus and a local branch of a junior college. We have one Carnegie Library and three very small community libraries. Our county recently received a large grant to help improve education. There are now two Learn-More Centers for adults and many programs just getting started that we hope will improve our 42% functional illiteracy level.
2. Summary of Our Project
Education is important. Everyone can read. Schools are a business. Are these true statements? During our study of Education in Wabash County, the fourth grade Quest students made some discoveries. They found that some people did not take school seriously when they were young and that they now regret this. Other people didn't have an opportunity to learn because of various personal or family problems. Today, in Wabash County the functional illiteracy rate is estimated to be as high as 42 %.
During our investigation of education in our county, the students learned that there are many people working to help improve the learning of our citizens. There are learning organizations for everyone from preschool through college and even for adults. We collected evidence that shows public schools are big business in our community. Our graphs show that schools employ more people than many of our factories!
3. Our Computer and Internet Access
A. Percentage of students using the Internet at home:more than 50%
B. Number of workstations with Internet access in the classroom:4-6
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 what we have learned, to keep track of our materials, and to know what still needs done when a project is spread out over a long period of time. We really had to work hard to stay organized and know what needed to be done each week. To solve this problem, we made a time line. We planned dates for our research field trips, for visitors to our class, and we set target dates for each part of the project to be completed. To solve the problem of keeping track of materials, we organized a three ring binder with labeled sections for each part of the project. To help with the problem of forgetting the information we gathered, all interviews (in person or by telephone) were tape recorded. Email interviews were printed and stored in our project notebook. This way the information was available for students to refer to over and over again. Also to help us be organized, we created a large wall-sized diagram of our web site. Each page was represented by a note card. On the card was the file name of the page, graphics, and background along with the name of the student(s) responsible for that page. This helped solve several problems, for example, students changing the file names of their page not realizing that others were making links to a previous filename. We drew lines on the wall chart to show physically which pages were linked together. With this planning map, the students were able to visualize how their pieces fit togther to create the whole. We used color coded stickers to indicate where each page was in the process of creating and editing for publication.
5. Our Project Sound Bite
Our Education is Wabash County project provided students an opportunity to participate in real research and to work with others in the community to accomplish a goal. Our hopes are that the final project will make a difference by encouraging education for people in our community.
6. How did your activities and research for this CyberFair Project support standards, required coursework and curriculum standards?
This project incorporates many of our Indiana standards. During the project, students were actively implementing the following language arts standards for grade four: 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; write clear sentences and paragraphs that develop a central idea; including drafting, revising, and editing; introduced to writing informational reports including researching and organizational strategies; writing demonstrates an awareness of the audience and purpose for writing. 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. The project this year really allowed students to learn more about the many organizations that work together to provide education in our county. To read the students viewpoints on what learning skills were involved, please visit "How We Did This Project and What We Learned " portion of their web project. http://www.msdwc.k12.in.us/quest/fourth03/how.htm