1. Description of Our Community
Our community, Fairfield, is a small rural town in northwestern Vermont. Our population is about 1,950. Agriculture is our main industry, and dairy farmers have often supplemented their income with the production of maple syrup. Vermont is the leading producer of maple syrup in America and Fairfield is the leading producer of syrup in Vermont. Sugaring, as it is called, is not just for dairy farmers. There are many people who “sugar” just because they love it, and love the product it produces. Our school has a poplulation of about 220 students, grades kindergarten though 8th grade. In 2004 our community built a sugarhouse on our school grounds. We achieve many of our state learning standards through following the process that our ancestors have followed for years and years.
2. Summary of Our Project
Project Sweet Talk is a sugaring project that started with the 6th grade class in 2009. Our students interviewed local sugarmakers to answer the question, 'What significance does sugaring have with the town of Fairfield?' The sixth graders interview sugarers, the 7th grade learns about the sugarbush, and the 8th graders tap, gather, and boil sap to make pure maple syrup. Our website showcases our school sugarhouse and the connection our community has through making maple syrup.
3. Our Computer and Internet Access
A. Percentage of students using the Internet at home:21-50%
B. Number of workstations with Internet access in the classroom:4-6
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):
With Fairfield being a small, rural town our technology and Internet connection is not what it is in larger communities. We have worked hard to increase our technology and connection, but are still slow and working with older computers. Technology is a priority to us and taking part in CyberFair has made it more so. Providing our students with a global audience is attainable!!!!!!
4. Problems We Had To Overcome
We really didn’t have that many obstacles once we got started. The scary part was at the beginning when we agreed to enter and neither myself nor Mr. Pigeon had any idea how to build a website from scratch. I had a bit of google sites training, but how to embed, and build the site with video editing was beyond my skills. Luckily our supervisory union has a webmaster who visited and taught the kids how to create a site through MODx, edit video and get it on the site, and copy images to the site. Greg Titcomb is the webmaster and he has been awesome teaching the kids and facilitating their learning. The students rose to the challenge, and did all of the work. They only had 30 minutes of enrichment time on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays to work on this site and we didn’t start building the actual site until January, so they have done a tremendous job!
5. Our Project Sound Bite
CyberFair has allowed our students to share their community with the world. Sharing locally is something they are used to, but in the future I see them choosing tools that will allow them to get their work out to a much larger audience.
6. How did your activities and research for this CyberFair Project support standards, required coursework and curriculum standards?
Project Sweet Talk and vermontsugaring.com allows us to cover many standards. Reading strategies and comprehension skills were addressed for everything we did. Language skills such as speaking and listening were used during the interviews. Reports, procedures, and personal essays were written and shared. Our school district, as well as the Vermont Department of Education, is really focusing on the NET standards and 21st Century Learning. Our students leaned how to design a website, as well as learned how to edit video and images. The middle school studies sugaring each year through interviewing local sugarers and working in our sugar house. An enrichment class used this information to design a site that highlights the connection our community has with sugaring; linking our school with the community. Different groups created the different pages of the site. The Internet has opened our teaching and learning to a global audience. Last year we presented what we learned to our community, and this year we are presenting it to the world.