1. Description of Our Community
Farmington is small town, established in 1822 about 70 miles south of St. Louis, with a population of approximately 17,000 and is full of rich heritage. Farmington is located in St. Francois County, Missouri, in the United States. It is a rural town with a motto of “Tradition and Progress.” Although the town is rooted in farming and agricultural interests, it also is quite modern for a small town with both quaint antique shopping and modern department stores, coffee houses, fine dining, and a community center. The public school district has won the National Blue Ribbon Award as well as the Gold Star Award numerous years in the last decade, therefore providing some of the best schools in the Midwest. The students of the Farmington School District are gaining many capabilities with technology learning to use Chromebooks, have personal Google accounts and are eager to find ways to further interact with technology and the community. The community is also eager to build more tech-friendly partnerships as wireless internet becomes more and more available to the public for free in many locations in this small community and members of the community begin to embrace the uses of online and technological resources.
2. Summary of Our Project
This project is a community-wide collaborative effort focusing on creating a website that students and community members can access to read and research the careers of local people through videos, pictures and interviews of local places in our town. We called our website “uKnight” like the word “unite” because our school mascot is the Knights and we are uniting the community through technology. Please read more about our project in our project narrative here: https://sites.google.com/a/farmington.k12.mo.us/fms-career-planning/project-narrative
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:more than 6
E. Additional comments concerning your computer and/or Internet access (Optional):
For our computer access we used Chromebooks as our main source for research and for the editing and creating of our website. The Chromebooks were a huge tool in us communicating with St. Paul to work on the collaborative database. We used an additional site called Schoology to create a database that is where the public and students will be able to access the information and interviews about careers in the community. For the planning of the project, we used Google drive so we had the ability to collaborate in setting goals, creating and editing text.
4. Problems We Had To Overcome
One of the problems we faced and had to overcome was scheduling the field trips to gather interviews around school commitments for both FMS P.A.G.E.S. and St. Paul and also around the weather. Even though many of our field trips were delayed due to other school activities and the weather we were able to make to all of our destinations. Another challenge was learning how to use new technology such as the website creation tools and video editing software. There were many times we just had to try something and see if it worked, testing out Google sites to find the right way to format our website. But, thanks to our clever web manager we were able to learn how to upload things, format, and create our webpage efficiently.
Another thing we had to problem solve was how to get the community interested in our project. We wanted our project to impact the community in practical and meaningful ways. One way we did that was by calling up local businesses to survey how many would be interested in being interviewed. It was a little scary to call up businesses and ask them to help us. We were nervous to talk to people, but once we got up the nerve to talk, we were so surprised how many really wanted us to tell their stories. We got fourteen interviews and could have had more had bad winter weather not set in. We even got a special note sent by our school district superintendent, a newspaper article written about us in the local paper, and a radio interview.
5. Our Project Sound Bite
Our participation in International CyberFair has meant more than anything connecting people. Community members and students from multiple schools now have something to share together and “uKnight” through our Career Planning website.
6. How did your activities and research for this CyberFair Project support standards, required coursework and curriculum standards?
he ISTE NETS addressed in the project include: 1a; 1b; 2a; 2b; 2d; 3a-d; 4b; 4c; 5a-d; 6a-d. This relates to the Common Core standards in our school district as the Writing, Speaking and Listening standards in grades 7-8 incorporate the use and application of multimedia and research tools. We learned new skills especially related to ISTE 3 (Research and Information Fluency) as students learned to synthesize information in ways that would be concise and still expressive on their website, and ISTE 6 (Technology Operations and Concepts) as students learned to use entirely new platforms including Google Sites, Pixlr, Google Forms/Docs/Presentation, and Schoology. We had a hierarchy that allowed us ownership of the project. The teacher acted as a facilitator when needed, but otherwise students made all decisions regarding project goals, implementation and products on the website. Each group member had a role as web manager, reporter, project organizer, transcriber, or public relations. In this class students were able to jump on board with these roles and take initiative. Because it is a Project-Based Learning class of gifted students, they appreciated the opportunity to take ownership and explore questions, problem-solve and work self-guided. By using technology to drive this project, we've found it easier to instantly share products we make, collaborate and improve project products and to keep things organized. Teaching through use of the internet allows so many more tools at our fingertips. Researching careers, contacting businesses and promoting our project was simple. We connected to a lot more people than we ever would had we tried to put these career interviews into a book or other format not using the internet. Please see our website for more information: https://sites.google.com/a/farmington.k12.mo.us/fms-career-planning/project-narrative