CyberFair Project ID: 2430

Close this Window

NOTE: Due to URL changes, some links may no longer be valid.

International Schools CyberFair Project Narrative
Title: Community Friends and Helpers
Category: 3. Business and Community Organizations
Bibliography: No bibliography page cited

School: Martel Elementary School
    Lewiston, Maine, U.S.A.

19 students, ages 8-9 worked together to complete this CyberFair project on March 7, 2003. They have participated in CyberFair in the following year(s): 2000, 2001, 2002,2003

Classes and Teachers: Mrs. Darlene Letourneau

E-Mail contact:

Our School's Web Site:

Project Overview

1. Description of Our Community

Lewiston is an urban community in the heart of central Maine. It is the second largest city with a population of approximately 36,830. The city covers an area of 35 square miles. Lewiston residents enjoy four seasons. The average January temperature is 19 °F and the average July temperature is 79 °F The first frost is expected around mid-October and the last frost is usually in mid-May. This makes for a long winter. At one time Lewiston was an industrial center; today it is developing in other areas. The recent influx of immigrants is adding to its cultural heritage. These new immigrants from Somalia have helped students remember that many of their grandparents were once immigrants from Canada to Lewiston. Their ancestors have shared some of the same barriers of language and poverty the today immigrant’s experience. In welcoming our new neighbor’s students have learned about their own family’s history and need for a helping hand in a new land.

2. Summary of Our Project

Our CyberFair 2003 entry, Community Friends and Helpers, was created to enrich the curriculum of our local community, Lewiston. All third graders of Lewiston, Maine must complete a unit of studies that focuses on the community. During the last two years a large number of Somalians have moved into our community. This new population of immigrants brought with it a new language, new customs, and a new culture to the area. In the 1900’s many Irish immigrants came to Lewiston bringing with them new customs, religion, expressions, and culture. A few years later thousands and thousands of Canadian immigrants settled in Lewiston bringing with them a new language, customs, and culture. The Somalian immigrants provided a wonderful way to learn about Lewiston’s cultural ancestry and how English, Irish, Polish, French-Canadians struggled to established a home in a new country. It provided an opportunity to learn about our ancestors struggles, the "Poor Farm, the "Gas Patch", "Le Petit Canada", who helped our ancestors establish a home in a new land, and what opportunities were available today all the citizens of the community. This project was designed to provide students with the opportunity to learn about local organizations, businesses, and individuals that provide services to the citizens of the community. Which organizations provide assistance to local school? What kind of help is available to students, to the elderly, and to the families of the community? The students and their parents arranged for interview with managers of local organizations and businesses and learned how these organizations served the community. Students were to focus on how these organizations have helped make the community a better, friendlier, and safer world.

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:more than 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):

Our school has no computer lab. All classrooms have at least 1 computer. The Lewiston School System has added networked software over the last year. The participation in the CyperFair Projects over the last three years have had a positive influence in upgrading computers to allow video conferencing and to acquire new technologies.

4. Problems We Had To Overcome

Time and weather were our worse obstacles. The major obstacle was the extreme cold weather. Several classrooms had to use two or make space heaters to raise the temperature in their class into the 50’sºF . All these heaters caused electrical circuit breakers to become overloaded. Whenever this happened our computers lost power, and a lot of data was lost. Students had to rewrite their web pages many times. Even now in March the temperature rarely makes it above the freezing mark, and we deal with up to 11 power outages a day. It makes working on computers very frustrating because you can never save everything. Students and teacher have learned to save, save, save because you never know when the power will suddenly be lost. The other concern was time. It takes time for 8-9 year olds and their parents to schedule interviews and visits in their very busy lives. Many students had to conduct phone interviews at school with big sisters, Mrs. Bourgault, or Mrs. Letourneau because parents could not due to work, death in the family, or lack of transportation. The project was begun in November and in March we were still trouble shooting our web.

5. Our Project Sound Bite

Chris it feels really cool that even people 30 or older don't know how to do. Alexander it feels good knowing that kids around the world will read what kids wrote Nicholas Junior Achievement helps over 1,000,000 world wide: it felt good to know our work will be seen world wide.

6. How did your activities and research for this CyberFair Project support standards, required coursework and curriculum standards?

This project grows and grows spinning off in new areas. Mrs. Letourneau also encorporates student drawings and the Lewiston, Maine, Is book into a classroom quilt. Students loved to sew their drawing into the quilt. This will become a friendship quilt proudly hung in our classroom.

Project Elements

1) What information tools & technologies did you used to complete your CyberFair project?

Students began by making a list of all the people and organizations that are helpful to us at Martel School. Next students wrote interview questions. Students wrote their information using a Quick Pad keyboard. The students work was later beamed by an infer red reader into their folder in the computer’s The Ultimate Writing and Creativity Center Software . This software was used for Spell Check, and the Thesaurus. Once the students had completed his/ her web page, student editors, Nicholas and Taylor proofread and edited the work. Christopher our Chief web-editor, copied and pasted it into Claris Home Page. Using the Claris Home Page Software, Christopher created a template. He was also in charge of updating our web pages. Since only one computer in the classroom has Claris Home Page, this process took several weeks to accomplish. Mitchell meanwhile was busy cropping, editing and animating images. Jacob and Matthew were busy writing The ABC’s of Lewiston, Maine book for the world to learn about their community. Later the class collectively wrote a book about life in Lewiston, Maine Is. This book is being made into a Lewiston quilt. A letter was sent to local businesses asking them to review their web page for accuracy and approval. Christopher was responsible for editing corrections received. This process took two months. Katelin, Matthew, Nicholas created a slide show about what our community, our school, and how we learn in our classroom. Nicholas and Mitchell used Image Blender software to create an animated slide shows about Martel’s Friends and Helpers. Parents, older siblings, and friends were invited to preview the web site. Using the Peer Evaluation Guidelines they looked for errors and glitches. It was here that we discovered that our scrolling marquee did not scroll in Netscape only in Explorer.

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

Perhaps the most significant change has been in how the students view their new Somalia neighbors. These new citizens share a heritage with many of their own grandparents who were themselves French-Canadiean immigrants in search of opportunity in a new country. Many of our past immigrants of went through periods of unemployment, of poverty, and of a time of needing assistance from the community. Empathy with those in need and a willingness to trust and offer friendship in these trouble times demonstrate the true spirit of being ambassadors. Students also learned to communicate, to ask informational questions, and acted very "grown-up" so the adults would take them seriously. The students outgoing attitudes took many adults off guard. Students treasure letters of praise from local businessmen on the mastery of these skills.

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

News articles have been printed about Mrs. Letourneau third graders and their projects. The Lewiston School Board has visited the classroom giving students praise and encouragement on their project. The School Department purchased a new computer for the class. The new computer came in with CD burner, DVD, and software to expand into new video creation. It is an exciting tool that encourages and challenges student and teacher to attempt new projects. Local teachers are using the web pages, Lewiston Unit, Our Home Lewiston, Your Home, Our Home, Lewiston, Celebrating our Cultural Heritage, and Mainely Our Own Local Specialties, and now Community Friends and Helpers created by Mrs. Letourneau and her class as a teaching resource. Student web pages are being used as an electronic text by third graders throughout the city of Lewiston. The CyperFair Projects have received positive praise from school administrators, teachers, parents, as well as members of the community. Mrs. Letourneau will also be burning a CD of each of our CyberFair Projects for the district Resource Center. These CDs will be provided as reference tools for all teachers within our district who struggle to find material on Lewiston and who are required to teach a unit on local community.

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

The project was truly a cooperative venture between school-family community. Thank You's to all:  Parents who arranged and shuffled students to interviews  Business people who agreed to be interviewed, generously provided students and the class with resource materials, brochures, old newspaper clippings, as well as personal materials on tops, samples, tours of their facilities, and especially for taking the time to answer letters and make editing suggestions.  Mrs. Bourgault, the school librarian, who made many phone calls and assisted students with phone interview.  Big Brothers and Big Sisters for helping students create meaningful questions  The list of the people who volunteered to help students is very long. The excitement was contagious and people came forward volunteering their knowledge and resources. A very special thank you to Mr. Joe Julias, Technology Administrator, who came in without delay to debug software, and to Ms Jan Brackett, Technology Specialist, who created the HTML slide show template. Without the cooperation of all these people and continuous support of parents and school staff, this project would not have been possible.

5) Discoveries, Lessons and Surprises (Optional)

This project grows and grows spinning off in new areas. Mrs. Letourneau also encorporates student drawings and the Lewiston, Maine, Is book into a classroom quilt. Students loved to sew their drawing into the quilt. This will become a friendship quilt proudly hung in our classroom.


View our CyberFair Project (Project ID: 2430)

Close this Window