1) What information tools & technologies did you used to complete your CyberFair project?
My students used the internet via computers in the computer labs to do research. They also students used the media center, library, and interviewed people about this project. They went to the site and took digital pictures and a video. The students also drew pictures and used scanners and computer programs to manipulate the pictures. My students would tell you that the best tools were computers with internet access and physically going to the site and taking the digital pictures and video. The students could not have gotten as much material as they gathered without use of the internet. Our school and local library had a very limited amount of information on Fort Mose. Also, going to the site and talking to locals about the area allowed some of the students to gain a unique perspective that others who only used the internet had missed until the groups came together to discuss what information had been amassed. Seeing the pictures of the site as it is today was a shock to the students who had expected to see large monuments and other signs that a fort had been there.
2) In what ways did you act as "ambassadors" and spokespersons for your CyberFair project both on-line and in person.
Our main student ambassadors were those students who made the long trek with their parents to St. Augustine and Fort Mose for purposes of obtaining information. These students went into the area with the specific purpose of talking to different types of people to gain an insight into the story of Fort Mose. These students talked to people at the St. Augustine tourist information center, they talked to tour guides, they talked to locals they met while walking around St. Augustine and the talked to locals walking around Fort Mose.
They explained what they were doing and many times were met with confused smiles as people didn’t know about Fort Mose, or with delight such as when a museum guide was surprised by the account of the report.
The students also went to their history teachers asking them if they knew the story, and not one of them did. The students explained to their teachers that they were making it their job to tell the story of Fort Mose.
I think by spreading the word about the Fort, their report and the distance they traveled to obtain information impressed a lot of people. It also made some of them aware about the importance of knowing about the history of Fort Mose.
3) What has been the impact of your project on your community?
We have begun working with the acting director of the Fort Mose Historical Society. It was at his suggestion that we tried to take a field trip and meet him there for an educational workshop on the Fort this past February. We unfortunately ran out of funds, though, but we are working with him now for the field trip next year. Plans are already being made for a field trip to the Fort site next February.
Our project has also already impacted our immediate community. Two other teachers are already making plans for ways to explore the history of Fort Mose in more detail. The science teacher wants to take soil samples of the area, and the art teacher wants to incorporate the history of the Fort into an Underground Railroad art showcase she was working on.
I believe that as the word is spread, more schools will take up the story of Fort Mose. Perhaps we can generate enough interest to have large educational programs focused on the history of blacks in Florida and on the impact that Fort Mose had on slavery in the colonies. This is a story that needs to be told.
4) How did your project involve other members of your community as helpers and volunteers?
The biggest helpers were the parents who took their children to St. Augustine and Fort Mose to gather information! Thank you!
Also thanks goes to the director of the Fort Mose Society who is encouraging us to come en masse to the Fort’s site. (Mr. Laws)
The art teacher and drama teacher who continually offered to help with props for a physical representation of the Underground Railroad to culminate the Fort Mose project. (Ms Swanson and Ms Rogers)
The science teacher who was going to help with the field trip, the soil samples and who encouraged the students to finish the program even when the field trip was called off. (Ms Hayes)
To the wonderful people of St. Augustine who took the time to talk to the children about Fort Mose and to commend them for trying to find information on such an unknown subject.
5) Discoveries, Lessons and Surprises (Optional)
I think the biggest surprise came when students began coming to me and telling me about their trips to St. Augustine. All the children had been disappointed about the field trip being cancelled, but I had little faith, and thought they were disappointed about not being able to miss school. When I found out that the project had inspired these students to go the extra mile and drag their parents to the Fort Mose site, I was speechless.
I remember one little girl bringing in a class set of pamphlets and a small book that talked about Fort Mose. The light in her eyes was brighter than the sun. I would like to take credit for such a burning desire to learn, but it wasn’t me, it was the project. It was exciting learning about something so important and yet no one else seemed to know about. It is exciting to get on the computer and with the right key words and a little luck make new discoveries.
I guess we all learned that not everything important is in the textbooks. We also learned that with hard work, determination and inspiration we could possibly convince the world of the importance of telling the Story of Fort Mose!