1. Description of Our Community
Lewiston is an urban community in the heart of central Maine. It is the second largest city with a population of approximately 36,830. The city covers an area of 35 square miles. Lewiston residents enjoy four seasons. The average January temperature is 19 °F and the average July temperature is 79 °F The first frost is expected around mid-October and the last frost is usually in mid-May. This makes for a long winter. Over the last century Lewiston has undergone many changes, growing from a small community into a bustling industrial community. With the decline of the textile industry, beginning in the 1960's, Lewiston suffered a decline of prosperity. Today, Lewiston is once again growing. New businesses are renovating the large mills that were built during the peak of the industrial revolution, helping Lewiston regain a strong economy while maintaining its historical landmarks. Many of the original mill workers were Canadian Immigrants. A strong Franco-American influence is still felt in Lewiston today. The drive to preserve the Franco-American heritage is evident in the many festivals and celebrations enjoyed throughout the year. These festivals attract thousands of visitors to our community while continuing to preserve and celebrate our heritage.
2. Summary of Our Project
Our CyberFair 2001 entry, Celebrating Our Cultural Heritage, was created to extend our local community curriculum. All third graders must complete a unit of studies that focuses on our local community, Lewiston. There is very little written information in this curriculum unit. Mrs. Letourneau's goal was to generate information that could be utilized by all the elementary schools within the Lewiston School System. Last years CyberFair 2000 Project proved so successful that various organizations inquired whether Mrs. Letourneau would again do this project. The local Shriners had inquired if the class would be interested in writing about their organization. However, the category "Local Attractions" was unanimously selected when a student informed the class that her father was a balloonist in The Great Falls Balloon Festival. Class discussions grew and students felt that festivals were way of celebrating our cultural heritage. With this realizations students made a list of all the festivals celebrated throughout the year in Lewiston and set out to discovery the "Why, Where, What, and Who" questions related to their festival. Students studied local cultural heritage as well as global cultural heritage by researching festivals of other countries. The result was a wonderful addition to the Our Home Lewiston and the Your Home, Our Home, Lewiston web-pages used by all third graders in their Lewiston. The CyberFair Project allowed us to continue learning about our community with fulfilling a need for written information about our community.
3. Our Computer and Internet Access
A. Percentage of students using the Internet at home:less than 20
B. Number of workstations with Internet access in the classroom:2-3
C. Connection speed used in the classroom:dial-up modem
D. Number of years our classroom has been connected to the Internet:2-3
E. Additional comments concerning your computer and/or Internet access (Optional):
Currently, our school computers range from donated PC's operating on Win 3.11 to newer computers operating on Win/NT. We have no computer lab and limited amount of networked software. In May 2000 Martel School was closed due to asbestos contamination. Most of the software and some computer hardware were discarded during the asbestos abatement process. In September the asbestos cleaned hardware was left in jumble on the cafeteria floor. The process of locating, carting, and uniting computer monitors, CPUs, printers, cables, etc. was a task left to our Technology Administrator, Mr. Joe Julias. Our computers were not up and working at the beginning of school. Many problems related to the asbestos clean up have persisted. Mr. Joe Julias diligently works at correcting the asbestos related problems (what I refer to as Asbestos Gremblins). His continuous efforts to fix problems enabled my students to attempt the CyberFair2001 Project.
4. Problems We Had To Overcome
The large amount of time is takes for 8-9 year olds to type, edit drafts, correct spelling were the worst obstacles. The Win/NT would not allow for downloading software for writing word games not a Korean translator. Students wanted to add some sentences in Korean to their summary of Kan Hanoe's visit. The solution was to hand copy the writing, scan the drawings, and writing, and save it as a JPG image. Students also used Claris Home Page 3.1 to create a Vocabulary Challenge instead of a Melting Snowman Word Game that they could not be downloaded from the Internet. Students typed drafts onto The Ultimate Creative Writing Center. Everyone had access to that program any of classroom computers. Then students cut and pasted their revised work onto Microsoft Word. Students now had the task of making the green squiggly lines go away. Finally students could save their work as HTML. Some students had difficulty with cutting and pasting. They would only forget to highlight their work and panic that all had been lost when it did not paste into Microsoft Word. Asbestos abatement delayed setting up computers and caused many program errors.(These I call my "Asbestos Gremblins") Other problems due to the asbestos clean up included keyboard problems; some keys to work only in CapLock and other keyboards would jam often before student work could be saved. Our worst obstacle occurred on March 6, 2001 when our Project Home page crashed. It was a Power Point Presentation with animated floating balloons. Students loved it. However, it just did not want to work when uploaded onto the server. From March 6th to March 9th the Project Home page had to be rebuilt. It is functional but not as animated as the Power Point page.
5. Our Project Sound Bite
"Wow","Cool", "That can hold three people?" "Awesome", words of excitement as Mr. Rodrique brings in his experimental basket to class. "I'm going to be a published author!" proudly exclaimed an eight year old girl who already wanted to be a famous writer one day. "Can you write in Korean?" students asked Kan Hanoe,a Korean foreign exchange students, who came to visit and tell the class about the Korean equivalent to our Thanksgiving Celebration. One little girl proudly stated ,"I learned to cooperate", "We worked together, and got along." This alone is quite an accomplishment for eight year old. Excitement about learning new ideas, excitement about sharing ones culture, and excitement about celebrating our cultural heritage.
6. How did your activities and research for this CyberFair Project support standards, required coursework and curriculum standards?
The State of Maine's Learning Results require that all third grade students develop historical knowledge of their local community (Lewiston). The CyberFair project provided an interesting and motivating way to cover the existing curriculum requirements in Social Studies, English Language Arts, Visual and Performing Arts, as well as Science and Technology. The project extended well beyond the required curriculum standards. It included developing communication skills, organizing photos with text: editing: writing: designing: and publishing skills: computer skills: keyboarding: cutting and pasting. These skills were necessary for students to create their web page. In fact it would be very lengthy to list all the specific content areas, standards, and performance indicators listed in the State of Maine Learning Results. The most exciting aspect of this project was that students practiced and mastered so many skills while enjoying themselves. The idea of restating in their own words was very difficult for these eight-and-nine year old students. For eight-and-nine year old students copying verbatim was writing their own work. Learning about plagiarism and giving correct references was a new concept. This was a wonderful learning experience disguised as pure pleasure.