International Schools CyberFair 98

Project Narrative

GREEK TRADITION (FOLK MUSIC & POPULAR ART)

Information About Our Site

Link to our CyberFair 98 entry

Date of Project: March 29 1998
Teachers and Classes:
The students of the 4th grade and the class teacher (Fotis Gousias)

How many students worked on this project
: 15
Their ages were
: 9-10 years of age
School:
4th elementary school of Argyroupolis
District
: 3rd district / 4th directorate of elementary education of Athens
City
: Argyroupolis, Attica province, Greece
Postal Address
: 29 Omirou & Militou, 164 51, Argyroupolis, Greece
Tel
.: +30 1 9922210
Fax
: +30 1 9919525
Project Contact Email
:
schools@hellenic-schools.org
url: http://cyberfair.gsn.org/dimotiko /ergasia

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Project Overview

1. We entered our Web site in CyberFair Category:
Local music and art forms.

2. Description of “Our Community”

The school is located at the southern end of Athens, at the foothills of Hymettus Mountain. The area developed at a fast pace during the past few decades, mainly due to internal immigration towards the cities. During that period tens of thousands of inhabitants of the Greek countryside (from the provinces of Epirus, Thessaly, Macedonia, Thrace, Sterea, Peloponnesos, etc) abandoned their villages or small towns and moved to the largest Athens in search of better living conditions.

All these people brought with them their individual cultural identities, with respect to both music and popular art as well as their mores and traditions. Despite the fast pace of development, all these traditions were preserved and accommodated. As a result, at the folk dancing clubs of our area, the austere dances of Epirus are taught alongside the playful island dances and the more complicated dances of Crete and the Pontus.

3. Summary of Our Project

Our project presents the wealth and diversity of Greek heritage in the areas of music and folk art. The inhabitants of our area (Argyroupolis) trace their origins from all areas of Greece, so we could view the whole of Greece as the community of our project.

Our project’s Web pages contain pictures of traditional Greek musical instruments, some of them originating as far back as ancient Greece, and sheet music for folk tunes that are danced to at community festivities. We also present photographs of traditional local women’s attire, images of handcrafted objects, and other items related to our traditions.

All the students of our class participated in this project enthusiastically. They interviewed their grandparents as well as other elderly members of our local community, researched the local libraries for material, attended dance performances at local dance clubs, as well as classes from the teachers at the local conservatory.

4.Our Internet Access

Within the Greek school system, public elementary school access to the Internet is still in its infancy and limited to experimental projects. Using the Internet for educational purposes is not part of the national curriculum at this level, but appropriate modifications to the curriculum are expected soon.

Our class accesses the Internet as a group only sporadically, for a few hours each month in an off-line mode. Materials from the Internet, mainly educational Web sites that are chosen by the class teacher who has his own private dialup connection to the Internet, are downloaded to school computers. Later on, the teacher, assisted by advanced students that have learned how to navigate on the Web from their elder siblings, presents the Web pages to the class.

However, a large part of the student’s work for this year’s arts classes has been uploaded to the Internet. Our class participates in the first Greek exhibition of children’s drawing on the Internet (at the Web site http://www.pe.sch.gr/paidiki-pinakothiki)

5. Problems faced during our project

While completing our project, the main hurdles to overcome were

meeting the CyberFair 98 deadlines for project completion, since we mainly worked on the project only during the last month of the competition, and

the problem of presenting the project in English, as well as in Greek.

Regarding the first problem, we will see when the deadline arrives whether we overcame it or not! To solve the second problem, presenting our project in English, we asked the children’s parents, their elder siblings. Fortunately, they all offered their help and thus saved the day, as 4th grade students in Greek public schools are just in their first steps in learning English as a second language.

The greatest assistance however for our project (including translate, encouragement, consultation and project reviews), without which the project would not be the same, was offered by G. Xylomenos, a Greek computer scientist that is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the University of California, San Diego. We thank him.

With respect to the technical aspects of our project (Web page construction, scanning images, etc) the students mainly watched how their written material was transformed into an electronic presentation format, their age and skills not allowing them to contribute more in this part of the project. Most of the students however had the experience of navigation within a Web site, either from our in class presentations, or from using their elder siblings computers at home. Interestingly, all students own a couple of pocket video games or game consoles. Still, most of the technical chores of the project were carried out by the teacher of the class. The students however created their own “storyboards” to show how their material should look on the Web, and understood, at least intuitively and in part, the technical tasks involved. They learned how hyperlinks from page to page work, many of them becoming quite adept at Web site navigation, they grasped the idea of homepages, and suggested color and design schemes for the Web pages. In the end, they tremendously enjoyed the whole process of transforming their work from paper to electronic form.

6. Our Project Sound Bite

Our project caused the participating students to get better acquainted with their cultural heritage, and the local community to recognize the importance of new technologies in the classroom. It perfectly combined the past (in the subject of the project) and the future (in the form of the project).

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Project Elements

This section explains how your project addressed the project elements found in the CyberFair Assignment to Schools.

1) How did your activities and research for this International School CyberFair project support your required coursework and curriculum requirements?

Our project supplemented and even surpassed the national curriculum requirements for the 4th grade of Greek elementary schools in many areas. It was mostly relevant to the following subjects:

a) Us and our world (environmental and anthropology studies) Greek geography is taught in detail at the 4th grade of elementary schools. The subject is not limited to strict geographical elements, it also expands to the areas of cultural anthropology and sociology. It is effectively concerned with understanding the children’s surrounding world, in both its natural and human aspects, and its various interactions and dynamic relationships. Our research on the traditional attires of each area of Greece and for the objects used in daily life, as well as their categorization, was an excellent supplement to the required material for this class.

b) Greek Language A large part of the 4th grade curriculum involves the folk poetry and songs of Greece. These serve both as a means for understanding the daily life (mores and traditions) of past generations, and as a means to enrich and solidify the student’s grasp of the modern Greek language, with words which are linguistic treasures in themselves. Due to the research on folk music and songs that was required for our project, the students expanded on the material that they were taught as part of the curriculum and attended performances of these songs.

c) Ancient Greek history 4th graders in Greece learn about the historical past of the Greek area from the Dorian invasion to the hellenistic years. The student’s research uncovered the presence of musical instruments in ancient Greece that were preserved in the area throughout Greek history, until today, for example the “lira” (a string instrument) and the “flogera” (a flute variant).

d) School life With the term “school life” we denote, among many other things, the skills and activities that are not limited to a particular subject in the curriculum, are not strictly organized and scheduled, or are not completely controlled by the class instructors. Examples are school festivities and educational field trips. Our class combined this project with a visit to the conservatory of Argyroupolis, were we attended a special introductory class to musical instruments, their sounds, their history and origins. We also watched a film on constructing animated sequences using computers with multimedia capabilities. This film was particularly useful to the students when they had to make their suggestions on the design theme for the web pages of our project.

e) Arts (music – drawing) Our project supplemented in the best possible manner the teaching of these subjects. The students of the 4th grade sang folk songs, made sketches of traditional musical instruments, traditional local attires, and so on. They also compiled a collection of sheet music for folk tunes, and those students that knew how to play an instrument performed these tunes themselves.

f) Group work

Students worked both individually and as members of a group. Their enthusiasm for the use of this new educational medium greatly assisted in overcoming the conflicts that arise in group work. Our class though had prior experience in group work (we have prepared and published a school newspaper, a school magazine, catalogues and presentations, all in the same 25 student class!). This experience helped us tremendously and gained us a lot of time when we had to balance the individual student’s attitudes with the requirements of group work.

During our project, we all learned new things, both the teachers that assisted in its preparation and the students. I believe however that the teachers learned more. First of all, we realized once again the potential of using new media and technologies at school. We were impressed by how fast our students adapted to computers in the classroom. There were, and are, other devices to aid teaching in schools, such as TVs, VCRs, overhead projectors, tape players, etc. The interest of the students on the computer however, especially when they saw their own material on the screen in an electronic form, surpassed anything that we have seen when using any other device.

The need to adapt schools to this new technological age is immediate. The introduction of new technologies at schools in a rapid manner should be the first priority of school authorities. Linking schools so that they can communicate via the Internet can ensure that information moves on fast, without waiting for bureaucratic curriculum directives and instructions, that often enough get lost in the mail.

2. What information tools and technologies did you use to complete your CyberFair project?

For this project, the students used  photocopier to reproduce their material or to compose pages from discrete elements. They also employed tape players to listen and transcribe the words of folk songs, and television sets and video players to watch folk music and dance festivals.

The students made use of encyclopaedias from their private   libraries, magazines and newspapers for source material (photographs and news) about festivals, concerts, performers etc. They also visited the conservatory of Argyroupolis to see and hear each folk instrument and discuss the instruments’ history with the music teacher there.

The teacher of the class used his personal computer, a flatbed scanner, and the software programs  Microsoft Frontpage 98 beta edition to produce the Web pages  and the Web navigation program Microsoft Internet Exporer 4.01. These programs were deemed the most appropriate for the construction of a proper Web site.

The “costs” (total cost) of completing the project were covered by the volunteer work and money of the instructor   and his personal computing resources and software. For the time being, the idea of sponsorship to public elementary schools has not been explored, most likely due to a lack of interest in part of the larger companies. While, say, a chocolate factory may contribute to the costs of a school party by donating chocolate bars, information technology companies in Greece still have not discovered the opportunities offered by the educational field.

3. In what ways did you act as “ambassadors” and spokespersons for your CyberFair project both on-line and in person?

The students of our class informed many of their friends within their own and in neighboring schools about their project and the CyberFair competition. As already mentioned, the students during their research caused a wave of activity in their neighborhood. A lot of other teachers and school administrators were also informed about the competition. Many of them suggested that after more Greek schools get connected to the Internet, they could cooperate using the model of the CyberFair competition, either by competing in the future, since CyberFair is an established international competition with considerable background, or through local competitions based on a school intranet. With this project our students prompted many school officials to reflect on the traditional school model and the need to adapt and modernize it by adopting the new technologies that are required for the schools of the new century.

4. What has been the impact of your project on your community?

As we already stressed, all the people that were informed about the activities related to this project (parents, teachers, school and community officials) had positive reactions and encouraged our work. They are aware of the furious technological developments in the area of information technology and the technology’s applications to everyday life, and are optimistic with respect to its use in education, hoping for improvements of the level of education. They hope that by introducing the Internet in education, educational activities that promote the collaboration and understanding between countries will spread and enhance the ecumenical character of education. They encouraged us to continue participating in such activities on the Internet, and promised to take them into account when planning the changes to educational policies that are needed for the introduction of new technologies to schools.

Of course, it is rather early to analyze and make conclusions based on the comments and the number of visitors to our pages, since on the one hand we need more time for that, as our pages have been on the Web for only a few days, while on the other hand connectivity to the Internet within our community is not at a satisfactory level yet.

5. How did your project involve other members of your community as helpers and volunteers?

In large part our project was completed "at home" of student's house  . Many of the tasks for the project required volunteers with specialized skills (for example, scanning photographs and composing Web pages). Such specialized skills are not very widespread in our local community yet.

With respect to material gathering however, many members of our community offered reference works and other useful books from their libraries for students’ use. Many people also showed interest and helped in the translation of the material to English, in particular teachers at local private English language schools.

6. Discoveries, Lessons and Surprises

We were pleasantly surprised to see that students that were considered weak and not very positive in the classroom, became very active on this project. They showed their potential, which we hope will become more apparent by the use of new technologies in elementary schools, to the benefit of their class and themselves.

The transformation of the project from paper to electronic pages particularly enchanted the students. The enhancement of some pages with music scores (in midi format) also made a lasting impression to the class.

In retrospect, even though this project weighed heavily on the shoulders of the class teacher , but it was well worth it!

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