International Schools CyberFair 97
Project Narrative

The Portland Business and Service Directory

Information About Our Site


Link to our CyberFair 97 Entry
Link to our School Home Page

Date of Project: March 8,1997

School: Oakwood Elementary
District: Portland Public Schools
City: Portland, Michigan USA

Teachers or Classes:
Teacher: Debbie Seal & students of grades 4 & 5 after school computer class

How many students worked on this project? 22
Their ages were: 9-11 years of age

Project Contact Email:

Project Overview

We entered our Web site in CyberFair Category:
Category 3 Local Business Directory

Description of "Our Community"
The city of Portland is a small rural community located about 30 miles northwest of our state capital in Lansing. Our largest employers are the local TRW plant, the only larger scaled manufacturing plant, and Portland Public Schools. Many of our almost 6,000 residents commute to jobs in either Lansing or Grand Rapids. Much of our citizens' employment is influenced by Lansing's automobile industry and state government jobs. Recently Portland is beginning to show a spurt in growth of new businesses.

Summary of Our Project
Although we are a small town, we are home to a number of small businesses that make our town very unique. The fourth and fifth grade students of Oakwood have constructed their web pages to share some of Portland's new vitality while also displaying some our local "hometown" charm. They wanted to also let people know about services offered by various groups in our town. This will mark the first presence of any kind on the web for our city and our public school system. We are the only school group even working on any type of web page construction.

Our Internet Access
We access the Internet via 28.8 baud modems. We have a Merit dial-in hub for K-12 education located in our high school.

Problems We Had To Overcome

Our major obstacle was running out of RAM on most of our machines as we were trying to put our pages together. Our lab has been pieced together over the last 5 years ; mostly by fund raiser money. Our 5 newest machines could handle the load, but we ran into trouble using our LC 580's and LC 575's. We found we could do our art work or run PageMill. When it was time to put the artwork in we transferred it to disk and then went to the more powerful machines to do the transferring.

We also have had difficulty contacting some of the businesses due to our scheduled work times not coinciding with regular work hours. We had some miscommunication between some group members. Different groups had contacted the same people more than once. The businesses were, however, very understanding.

Another problem was trying to find enough time in all of our schedules to work on the project. Our project was totally completed after school hours. Mrs. Seal had a family emergency during much of January so we had to cancel many of our work sessions. We had no other adults with enough computer expertise in the school district to take over for her. We have doubled up working hours and worked both Saturdays and Sundays trying to finish our entry.

This is the first time any of us, including Mrs. Seal, had ever created web pages. We basically learned by doing and communicated with people Mrs. Seal knew on the Internet for help. We used PageMill 2.0 primarily to set up our pages. We only could afford a 10 pack site license so only 10 machines could be running PageMill . At times not everyone could be a productive as we might have been.

Students were excused during school hours for appointments and interviews. However, we ran into some missed appointments, etc., due to snow days. We have attempted to make these up with the deadline so close.

We also received several letters of interest too close to our deadline so they could not be included in our entry.

Our Project Sound Bite
"We think CyberFair is team effort, responsibility, and fun. We're learning more about our community and having confidence in ourselves that we can succeed."


Project Elements

How did your activities and research for this International School CyberFair 97 project support your required course work and curriculum requirements?

There are several State of Michigan curriculum requirements in both language arts and social studies that we attained for these children because of this project.

Both the students and myself have been learning and practicing to use html language for web page creating. Students have learned to use the scanner, the LCD camera , and how to create and work between the various software programs used in producing our entry.

Students learned to cooperate with one another and effectively communicate with one another. They also learned to evaluate and critique each other's work. Teamwork was our theme while completing out entry. Each session began with a team talk and mind set for the session.

Although the project does attain many of the state goals, we realize that we would like to offer this type of opportunity to all students in our building. Further teacher training and equipment is needed to bring the entire district up to speed.

Our project has created more interest by other teachers and business leaders in using the Internet as a teaching tool. This was one of our main reasons for doing this project besides the obvious gains for all students involved.

Finally, we have found that students are more critical of their own writing skills knowing that their audience was a much larger group of varied individuals. A real world situation has created a more authentic way of learning for all of us.

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


Mac: LC 575's, 580's, Power PC 5260's,5300's, and 5400's

Hewlett Packer 500 and 600 series Printers

Apple Personal 300 laser printer

Casio Q-V10 digital camera

Hewlett Packer Scanner

N-View LCD Display

telephones, photocopy machines, and cameras



PageMill 2.0

Adobe Photoshop

KidPix 2

Netscape 3.0

ClarisWorks 4.0

gif builder (from the Internet)

Mac Gallery clip art

Classroom Clips clip art

Cliptures Electronic Clip Art

Our most valuable assets were fellow educators and friends that I contacted on the Internet to help us learn this new technology and work through the project. There was no one in our school district, that I knew of, who was able to help us. All of our help came from contacts that I have in other cities and school districts via the telephone and the Internet. We also looked at other web pages and their codes to help teach ourselves. I also bought the book The Adobe PageMill 2.0 Handbook by Rita Lewis to help us through some tough spots. This project was basically a self teaching, learn as we go, experience.

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

We first introduced this project by making a few phone calls to members of our local Chamber of Commerce. Our next step was to make a presentation to the members of the Chamber at one of their luncheon meetings. We were very well received . Nan Simons , the editor of our local paper, wrote an article about our presentation which helped to spread the word of our project. She later followed up by interviewing the students and myself and doing another 3/4 page article on CyberFair at the end of February.

Students created cover letters and surveys which were sent to all local businesses. That letter writing campaign was a major undertaking all by itself. We found out there were over 150 businesses in the Portland area.

Our next stage was to follow up with personal phone calls and interviews. Several people have contacted me expressing what fine jobs the students did in conducting their interviews. Our supporters have eagerly been awaiting the posting of our pages.

Letters will be sent thanking all business and service providers. We will include our Internet address for CyberFair and our entry.

We will still be hosting a night at school for business people and parents to come view our pages.

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

The editor of our local newspaper ,the Portland Review and Observer. wrote a lengthy article about us in the paper. We have had many people stop and ask when our pages will be posted. Our CyberFair entry has created interesting and stimulating conversation about what technology is available in our schools.

Internet use at home by the students involved has drastically increased. They are constantly trying to "figure out how things work" now that they know how to look at page construction. There are a couple of real "go getters" in our group that would have worked on the project day and night if they could have.

Basically the project has done what we wanted; create an awareness of technologies possibilities in education and business. Hopefully, it will also create more support for the tools, curriculum, and trianing we desperately need in our schools.

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

We received a warm welcome by our local Chamber of Commerce when we presented our idea to them. Pat Dutcher, a vice president of our FMB Bank, was a big help to us by giving us a copy of the local businesses belonging to the Chamber.

We would also like to thank our mayor, Pete Weeks, and our superintendent, Charles Dumas, for writing personal messages to Internet users for our entry.

Of course we would especially like to thank all the local business owners and service providers for taking time out of their busy schedules to talk to my students whether it be via phone or personal interviews.

We found that the meaning of community became very global as we connected with other educators and technology experts for advice in putting together our project. We were learning by doing. No one else that we knew of is using this technology in our school district. Our closest experts were friends of Mrs. Seal , ( especially Mr. Bruce Vigneault of Shepherd, MI and Mrs. Carla Gzym of Grand Rapids, MI) in other districts and cities who we contacted by either phone or email.

We also located helpful information on the WEB including some of the WEB sites listed in the CyberFair help areas.

Thank- you to all of you.

We also send thanks to Mr. Ron Miller, our principal, who supported us by finding ways to obtain the materials and software needed to complete the project. He knows that technology education is important and totally supports its infusion into education.

And last, but never least, many thanks to all of our parents and teachers. Teachers released students from class for interviews and phone calls without complaint. Our parents have also been very supportive by running errands, looking at our pages, delivering food to keep us all going and allowing us to spend so much time working on the project. Thank-you so much.

* a personal note from the teacher.. .Thank- you so much to my understanding family who has allowed, Mom/Wife to pursue this little adventure. You have been very understanding for all the late hours and time from home. I know you are 3 in a million.

Link to our CyberFair 97 Entry
Link to our School Home Page

International Schools CyberFair 97 Winners