District: Mazon-Verona-Kinsman Elementary District 2C
City: Mazon, Illinois
Mr. Fechter's Fifth Grade Class
Their ages were: 10-11 years of age
Our community consists of three small towns. They are Mazon,Verona, and Kinsman located in the state of Illinois. We have very rural surroundings. There are businesses in each community. Of the three, Mazon is the largest town. Our community consists of 110 square miles sending approximately 400 students to our school district. Our communities are very friendly and productive. There is a great deal of interest in education.
Our School has a local area network of thirty IBM compatible machines. They are located in two places, twenty-five of the computers are in a lab and the other five are in the library. All thirty machines are connected to a server which is in turn connected to our Internet Service Provider via a ISDN line.
We learned about this contest in mid January which was a very late start. We have a new server which has had many technical problems. We have basically had to take everything day by day with hopes our lab is working OK. I'm not familiar with the Internet so this is learn as we work.
Our participation in the Cyberfair has been a real incentive to my students. They are excited about each new aspect of the project.
In our social studies classes we have been studying about historical leaders of the past. Taking this to the present and zeroing in on our specific communities makes great sense to the 5th graders.This experience is giving reality to social studies for the children. This project is great because we can share our small communities with everyone. The internet has charged up the interest level of the children and myself.
The twenty-one students in our class broke up into seven cooperative learning groups. Each group worked initially on defining leaders of towns. We set out to find articles, books, phone books, individuals, parents, and community members to gain information about our three communities. Unfortunately, we hit a lot of obstacles. Determined we forged on in groups narrowing down what we felt were the most important local leaders. We used various methods of contacting local leaders such as letters on the computers and phone calls.The major impact of our process was the actual person to person interviews. We will be using six pages of questions that evolved from over 200 brainstormed questions by the 5th grade. Students typed up a summary of their interview, which was the converted into a webpage using the html editor "HotDog". A video camera was used to take pictures of those leaders who came to school to be interviewed. Those pictures were then captured, digitized, and incorporated into our projects web pages. This was done by means of a "Snappy". This same process was also used to capture and incorporate our student's maps.
We have used this project to help our students understand the use of the Internet and computers as a learning tool for information and communication. This project will hopefully inform our parents and community about how valuable the computer lab is to everyone in the community. We are just at the beginning of understanding the simplest ways of using the Internet. I hope other staff see the importance of staying current at our school by using the Internet. Projects such as this one ties us to all other schools. This project should promote more interest in communication and knowledge, so more people aren't afraid of the Internet. This project has helped me integrate the Internet into my classroom in an enjoyable way for my students. Student enthusiasm for this project has gone home to the parents and come back to school the next day. Students want to know what we are going to do next. Our local leaders will hopefully be a catalyst for our community. With their enthusiasm and promotion other people will want to find out more about the Internet.
Our Internet site has not been running very long. Our staff, school board, and administration has made a committment to future schoolwide use of the Internet. We are just at the beginning of our use and understanding of technology for students. It is much different than traditional methods of years past, so we are very excited. The impact of technology on our community is a ways off. This project should be a springboard for our staff and community.
I didn't have the slightest idea of what I was doing when we started this project. Through the help of our district tech person and administrator some bookmarks helped me get started. I worked with my class in cooperative groups putting together information. We explored other areas on the Internet,such as Census Data, Leaders, Officials, Government, and Map locations. Our interviews promoted the greatest amount of fun and knowledge. Specifics were given by each individual about his or her job. Students were excited to share this information with classmates and parents. It seems students are more interested in the World Wide Web and the wealth of information that's on it.
We learned that time and patience are very important when working on the Internet. Everything took longer than we expected in our cooperative work groups. We brainstormed about everything we did. We decided there were other ways we could have done certain things. Without the help of our tecnology advisor, Mr. Rowe, we would have never completed our project. We all found out that a great amount of thinking, talking, and understanding leads to a better final project. Everyone felt we would like to find more Internet contests for students.