1. Description of Our Community
Our community is Camden County, and the neighboring and towns and counties of southern New Jersey. It is a combination of suburban, rural, and natural environments. Our school is located in the town of Haddonfield, which dates back to colonial times. Haddonfield is a few miles away from both the City of Camden, New Jersey and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. We are about an hour away from the Atlantic Ocean. Geographically, our area is primarily flat, with small creeks and marshes feeding into the Delaware River. We are a private school exclusively serving students with developmental disabilities through both day and residential programs. Many of our students come from nearby towns.
2. Summary of Our Project
We considered several different topics, voted, and selected RoadSide Art. We started with a live interview with local artist Sandy Saler to talk generally about art, and from this we had a better understanding that art is more than just drawing or painting pictures. Over the coming months we made many trips to visit different examples of RoadSide Art and took a lot of photos. We covered examples of murals, statues, memorials, live art, and even architecture. Some students visited additional examples on their own time on family trips. We discussed the different kinds of roadside art and their purposes. We interviewed numerous people (in person, email, and regular mail). Students also had an opportunity to design their own mural on paper given the side of a house. Students wrote reflections on some of their experiences. The group voted on key elements for the web site, including graphic logos, fancy fonts, and color themes. Some students assisted with the preparation of photo images, bibliography citations, and construction of an on-line scavenger hunt/test.
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:2-3
C. Connection speed used in the classroom:dedicated connection
D. Number of years our classroom has been connected to the Internet:more than 6
4. Problems We Had To Overcome
We had a few problems with time as we had several huge snowstorms this year and school was closed. We were not able to include one piece of local art we liked – when we wrote the person who owned it, they said they did not want to be included in the project, so we respected that. After reading about muralist Cesar Viveros and seeing some of his wonderful murals in Camden, we wanted to interview him but had difficulty contacting him (he had no contact information on his web site). This was resolved when one of our staff, Ray Domenech, was working at another job and he just happened to meet Cesar Viveros. Ray recognized Cesar from our class discussions. Ray talked to him, explained about our project, and got his email and phone contact information. Cesar agreed to a phone interview with the class, and Ray assisted during this as a Spanish interpreter.
Because of the wide range of academic abilities of the CyberFair team students, some of the content information was accomplished through group activities and group discussion. Students who were unable to independently write contributed their thoughts through dictation. At times, students needed verbal prompts, verbal modeling, or a choice of possible options to initiate comments.
As in past projects, our web pages are deliberately made to be simple and uncluttered so our students (who all have disabilities) can easily and independently view the project.
5. Our Project Sound Bite
“I think the CyberFair is awesome. I like that Nipper the dog in a window - I saw it on a speedline train. I also liked Cesar Viveros in the phone talk interview. “ (by Eric).
6. How did your activities and research for this CyberFair Project support standards, required coursework and curriculum standards?
Our project addressed the following New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards: Technology (accessing information, observing ethical standards, and creating a web site); Visual and Performing Arts (both the creative process and the history of the arts and culture standards); and Language Arts Literacy (reading, writing, speaking, and listening standards).
Our school program emphasizes providing opportunities for students to generalize skills through authentic, real-life tasks and community-based instruction. This project particularly gave our students many chances to use these skills on the many field trips we took to see RoadSide Art and numerous interviews with artists and others about what we had seen. During class discussions, students also shared personal experiences by talking about other examples of RoadSide Art they had seen in the past, or on recent family outings.