1. Description of Our Community
New Orleans metropolitan area is located in southeast Louisiana in the United States. Our area is located north of the central Gulf of Mexico on the banks of the Mississippi River. New Orleans' population is diverse and includes substantial representation from the African-American, Asian American and Hispanic citizens of America. The metropolitan area population of 1,482,240 (2000 census) is about 30% of Louisiana’s total population. Our area relies heavily on the oil, shipping and tourism industries. Because of our temperate climate and internationally known tourist attractions like Mardi Gras, our area attracts a sizable indigent population. As is the case in many large cities, there is homelessness, drug and alcohol abuse, pregnancy crisis issues, and other problems. New Orleans struggles to help these people through various care groups, including churches, governmental and non-profit agencies.
2. Summary of Our Project
The title of our fifth year project is
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:4-6
E. Additional comments concerning your computer and/or Internet access (Optional):
We use Sprint DSL service with AOL@School filtering. We operate a hardware-based firewall. We run three Web servers as of this year. One server is for school information including homework assignments. The second server is for the mainstream computer instruction content. The third server is for our school’s TEC Club, an extended-day school program.
4. Problems We Had To Overcome
Since CyberFair is a mainstream information technology applications project for all of our seventh grade students, the program presents some real logistical obstacles. We meet for ninety minutes, once in a six-day cycle. Organizing, reviewing and generally managing the work of over 100 students is a challenge. To assist in the management, we designed a Web quest that takes each student step by step through the exploration of the issue, writing the Web content, selecting appropriate visuals, layout of the Web page, citing sources and linking resources. The Web quest has become an indispensable part of the unit. We chose team leaders who were responsible for managing team folders (directories) on the LAN and entering data into Front Page. Although all team members were involved in composition, the team leader’s role assisted in gleaning control out of potential chaos. During mainstream computer, we must also drill keyboarding. So, we really have about sixty minutes once every six days to complete our entries. Time is the number one barrier I guess we must all face no matter our situation. Structure, through the Web quest and team organization, was the only tool we found in overcoming time management struggles.
Coordinating the html documents and content of over 100 students is a real bear. Just making sure everything works is a time-consuming effort. To overcome this issue, we created a CyberFair folder (directory) accessible by CyberFair team on the local area network. Within the CyberFair folder are team folders. Within these folders are the html documents and other content. This helps us in organizing the Web site and accounting for the work of our students.
5. Our Project Sound Bite
CyberFair helps me to minimize technology’s intrusiveness and maximize its usefulness. CyberFair is the primary information technology unit for all of our seventh grade students at Immaculate Conception School using this worthwhile endeavor to instruct the student to use the Web and other resources for research, encourage writing, develop Web authoring skills, and promote working in peer groups to achieve common goals. Community awareness is an important concept to introduce to middle school age students and this year’s CyberFair is a perfect vehicle for introducing the concept of caring for others in our community in need and honoring those citizens and groups offering the helping hand.
6. How did your activities and research for this CyberFair Project support standards, required coursework and curriculum standards?
We use the state of Louisiana’s K-12 technology standards as a guideline for the design of our computer instruction curriculum. These standards are based on the National Educational Technology Standards (NETS). Our CyberFair project met our state’s Technology Communication Tools (Communication Foundation Skill) standard which requires students to use telecommunications to collaborate, publish, and interact with peers, experts and other audiences and that students use a variety of media and formats to communicate and present information and ideas effectively to multiple audiences. This CyberFair project met our state’s Technology Productivity Tools (Resource Access and Utilization Foundation Skill) standard which requires students to use technology tools to enhance learning, increase productivity, and promote creativity and use productivity tools to work collaboratively in developing technology-rich, authentic, student-centered products. Finally, our state’s Technology Research Tools (Linking and Generating Knowledge Foundation Skill) standard was a perfect fit for the CyberFair 2002 project. This standard requires students to use appropriate technology to locate, evaluate, and collect information from a variety of sources and to evaluate and select new information resources and technological innovations based on the appropriateness to specific tasks.
As a facilitator, I was able to streamline the CyberFair production process by refining the project’s Web quest, utilizing team collaboration and distribution of responsibilities among student team members.