CyberFair Project ID: 4956

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International Schools CyberFair Project Narrative
Title: Volunteer Be A Responsible Citizen
Category: 5. Local Attractions (Natural and Man-Made)

School: Martel Elementary School
    Lewiston, Maine, USA

17 students, ages 8-9 worked together to complete this CyberFair project on March 5, 2007. They have participated in CyberFair in the following year(s): 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007

Classes and Teachers: Mrs. Darlene Letourneau

E-Mail contact:

Our School's Web Site: http://

Project Overview

1. Description of Our Community

Lewiston is the second largest city in Maine. It is located in central Maine on the banks of the Androscoggin River. In the early 1900's the city was a booming textile community. Today it is undergoing urban renewal and trying to regain a position of leadership and economic growth in the State of Maine. Lewiston is focusing on expanding its leadership role by inviting new businesses to locate in the central business district. L.L.Bean has a telephone catalog center that employs over 1200 customer representatives during the holiday season. Andover College has opened a campus in downtown Lewiston. The textile mills which once made Lewiston a booming community are being renovated for new businesses, training facilities, banking operations, college facilities, as well a variety of restaurants. Our community is growing in economic and educational opportunities. Our population is becoming more diverse with a large number of immigrants selecting to relocate on the in our community.

2. Summary of Our Project

Our project is all about how citizens in our community are actively involved in making Lewiston, Maine a better place. During, social studies students learned that citizens have responsibilities to obey laws and to participate in the democratic process; however, this is not enough. A good citizen needs to be active in the community. Good citizens give back to the community by sharing his/ her skills and time. One way to accomplish this is by volunteering. Volunteering can be as simple as walking a neighbor’s pet, being a reading book buddy, just giving a helping hand. Teenagers can volunteer to0 as candy stripers in hospitals or be a Big Brother or Big Sister at a nearby elementary school. Our project highlights some of the ways volunteers are very important in our community. We will share with our readers some of our favorite places and how we can make sure that these places stay in our community. While working on our project our class has seen how students can help others. Students learned to knit and crochet hats and scarves as a community service project. Others worked on sorting and labeling items for Waste Share. Students have seen how busy adults give their time to help make our community a better place. Why volunteer? Volunteering empowers citizens to help others, to see what needs to be done or should be done in the community. This knowledge is power. Responsible citizens are active citizens with the power to make changes. Responsible citizens are empowered citizens who make the communities a better place. Students decided the best way to prepare for the future was to be active in the present. Responsible citizens are citizens who make their communities better places. Students decided the best way to prepare for the future was to be active in the present. They want to empower themselves with the knowledge that what they do, does, and can make a difference in the community in the present and to continue in the future as adults.

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:more than 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

E. Additional comments concerning your computer and/or Internet access (Optional):

One problem was the high level of background noise in the classroom during video taping. Staff and students no longer notice the constant hum, whistle, and banging made by the heating system during the school day. However during editing the video interviews these noises became very noticeable. Several interviews were video taped a second and third time in hopes that the noises could be eliminated. Unfortunately wind chill temperatures of -20degrees Fahrenheit, the heating system was constantly working, and there was no way for us to remove the background noises.

4. Problems We Had To Overcome

Students used video taping as means of creating their project this year. Many students in our class have a wide range of reading and writing skills. In order to facilitate participation for as many students as possible, students used Clicker 5 and NetTrekker as a means of listening to the information, creating questions, and video taping interviews rather than writing reports. Students wrote interview scripts and practiced, practiced, practiced until they could read every word and understand the questions they were asking, and the answers they received. They taped themselves asking questions, evaluated the video for value of questions, students posture and gestures, mannerisms, and articulation before inviting the interviewees. Self-esteem, pride in their appearance, and reading skills greatly improved. As the project grew behavior issues decreased. Students wanted their efforts to be taken seriously by everyone involved and to “place their best foot forward” so to speak. Student security guard prevented anyone from disrupting taping sessions. Tele-prompters were set up to help students who might forget the questions they had worked so diligently to create. Students united as a class to encourage each other and to praise students as they made noticeable improvements.

5. Our Project Sound Bite

Jacob: “I felt like Matt Lauer as I interviewed my aunt Ann. It felt strange calling her Ms. Gosselin.” Ms. Doe: “It has been a pleasure working with students, they asked insightful questions, and they certainly did a lot of work for the Waste Share Organization.” Thank you. Sare: “I did not want to read so many lines in my script but now I’m glad that I did. I looked really good on camera.” Kayta: “Let’s make big posters of the questions. Some of us can take turns holding the posters.” Dominique: “I felt important.” Tyson: “Knitting is hard. I like doing the Waste share counting and sorting better.” Gina: “Mom and Dad asked ‘Where did you learn to knit?’’ They liked the scarf I made. Special Education Teacher: “Wow this class has bonded into a supportive working group.” Gemma: “I like video taping much better than writing an essay.”

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 study their local community. 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 including developing communication skills, organizing photos with text: editing: writing: designing: and publishing skills: computer skills: keyboarding: scanning: creating animated graphics: cutting and pasting: video taping, making QuickTime movies with the use of i-books. 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. In addition to all these state standards, Lewiston also has local assessment that must meet quarterly. The most exciting aspect of this project was how differentiated learning was. Students with low reading levels, speech problems, behavior issues, and students who have “an allergy to pencils” (avoid written task at any cost) began to work together to create meaningful scripts. They bonded together helping each other practice, understand ideas, and write “thick” questions for their scripts. Students had to read, listen to text via software, and become experts on the interview topic. 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.

Project Elements

1) What information tools & technologies did you used to complete your CyberFair project?

The SunJournal a local newspaper ran a series of “My Favorite Place in L/A” articles. We used these articles as a springboard for our project. Students discussed their favorite place in the community. Parents took pictures of students at these places. Gradually discussions extended to “How could you make sure your favorite place is always in Lewiston?” Volunteering was introduced in this manner. Students read news articles, encyclopedias, internet research, city library trips, they e-mailed their report to the teacher, scanned images, and still some students just could not get enthused about the project. Students this year had a greater range of abilities. Getting students to begin the project was a difficult task. Computers and Quickpads did not motivate these students. Both items implied reading and writing which was a sore issue for students with low language levels and even lower self-esteem. Our school purchased NetTrekker, a research site for students, and “Clicker5” a talking word processing program. Students learned to copy, paste, and listen to the information. Listening and discussing were not so painful, but writing was a very sore issue. So, what could be done, video tape using the school camcorder! Finally, non-writers were willing to video tape interviews. Once they viewed themselves on tape they began to make changes, write better questions, practice speaking slower, clearer, and slowly they began to use Clicker5. We used every piece of technology that could entice and motivate students to want to learn.

2) In what ways did you act as "ambassadors" and spokespersons for your CyberFair project both on-line and in person.

Students impressed all the local business people who came in to be interviewed. Their mannerisms and professional attitude brought smiles and praise to all who worked with students. Teachers and school personnel were amazed at the transformation of some students who went from being apathetic to being excited about learning. The students have learned about how they can improve the community by volunteering whether they are cleaning cafeteria tables, picking up trash that blows into the schoolyard from neighboring businesses, or making scarves for the homeless shelter. They were impressed by just how many people in the community volunteer. Some have gotten their parents involved in projects by going with their child to donate an hour a week of their time sorting, packaging, and stacking at various organizations. Students looked forward to Friday afternoon. This became their community project time and if for any reason it had to be postponed students began using their recess time to work on their community projects. Students have made these community projects a part of their weekly routine.

3) What has been the impact of your project on your community?

Our project has been praised by school officials, parents, local businessmen, and students. The idea of giving and sharing has taken hold and students now ask can we learn to knit mittens to go with our scarves? Students volunteered their recess to work on projects. They looked for other places that they could go to volunteer with their older siblings. They glow from the praise staff members have given them about their attitude toward each other and toward learning. They now understand a little better the cliché “If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.” Students want to be part of solution of the problems of their own lives by seeking out other means of expressing themselves and by participating in the school community and the local community.

4) How did your project involve other members of your community as helpers and volunteers?

Every year parents, staff, students ask “What is our Big Project for the Year? How can I help?” Mrs. Baribault and Mrs. Ellis assisted students with knitting. Mrs. Breton supplied students with knitting needles. Mrs. Gosselin knitted mittens and hats for everyone in the class. Mrs. Merritt donated boxes of yarn. Without their help teaching eight-year olds to knit would have been an overwhelming task alone. The tech support team made sure the internet connections always worked and spent many afternoons installing software in the i-books for students to use the Clicker5 software which opened up researching to students who could not easily read encyclopedias and intenet information. Thank you to all individuals who encouraged students and teacher to continue working on this project when we were about to quit because of various issues that arose during the course of the year.


View our CyberFair Project (Project ID: 4956)

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