1. Description of Our Community
Our Local Community actually encompasses two parts. One is the School community linking our Middle School students with the Elementary school students. The older children prepare environmental experiences for the younger children and guide them through the experience. The other aspect of our Community is the connection with the geographic community. The students prepare presentations to present to organizations within the local area in an effort to increase awareness of the ecological value of an endangered ecosystem.
2. Summary of Our Project
The ScrubQuest is a web based research tool for students to use to increase their own awareness of a local endangered ecosystem. The students then use the information learned to prepare two types of presentations. One is a presentation designed to take to local community organizations to showcase the Scrub area and to develop awareness of the value of the Scrub within our community. Then the students use the information gathered to prepare a series of visits to the Scrub for the younger students. Each of these visits will focus on a different skill or content area that can be learned or developed by way of a trip to a natural area.
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:1
E. Additional comments concerning your computer and/or Internet access (Optional):
Internet access has opened a whole new world to our students. By developing navigation skills, students are able to move beyond the traditional classroom to a virtual world rich with experience. Students have utilized the Internet to explore a variety of subject areas over the last 6 months. Students in French class have taken virtual tours of the web museum, and participated in webquests to further their understanding of French impressionism. Students in Spanish class have utilized search engines to perform research on Spanish countries. Their findings evolved into comprehensive reports. Students in history class have also performed on line research to further their understanding of significant figures in American History. A wide variety of websites have provided a broader & more colorful view than could be obtained from traditional research methods. Students in the 3rd and 4th grade have begun to utilize search engines to research Florida’s history and a unit on the Solar System.
4. Problems We Had To Overcome
The creation of this project led to several very interesting challenges to overcome. One, of course, is the very prevalent issue of TIME. Everyone seems to be way over committed in our society from senior citizens all the way to elementary age children. One of the solutions was to designate specific times to set aside to work on the project. Another solution was to locate the students who were truly committed to making it a successful venture. Motivation became an issue to deal with in that this is our first entry into CyberFair and it was difficult to be guiding students through something with which we were unfamiliar ourselves. It happened through an enthusiastic attitude throughout the project and through sharing an intrinsic KNOWING that we were on the right track. A third challenge was a very limited knowledge of Web design. Our feeling of “How difficult can it be?” quickly changed to one of “WOW, those ‘guys’ who design Web pages are awesome!” We learned just how much there still is to learn. We used all our resources to discover the basics; on-line assistance, books, experienced Web designers. We all now look at web pages we visit with a more appreciative eye.
5. Our Project Sound Bite
Our CyberFair project is an exciting one for all involved; an opportunity for students learn about the environment then to teach both younger children as well as older citizens of the community. Once the connection with our natural world is established it becomes a committed part of the individual.
6. How did your activities and research for this CyberFair Project support standards, required coursework and curriculum standards?
Our CyberFair Project tied into several areas of curriculum as well as state and local standards. We met standards in Science and Technology. Life Science areas covered run the gamut from Kindergarten through 8th Grade: classification of living things, similarities and differences between plants & animals, needs of living things, adaptations to various habitats, life cycles, plant and animal survival skills, needs of living things in relation to their environment, how living things adapt to their environments and respond to changes in them, interactions of living and nonliving things in an ecosystem, biodiversity. We did discover the need for more Technology in our curriculum and are in the process of developing a course within our school. Using the Internet for teaching and learning has become a very valuable method within our school environment. It appeals to all ages and has built-in feedback. The students are more actively involved in the learning process thus are truly engaged in that process.