1. Description of Our Community
Our community revolves around our school, which is a private, all special education facility serving students with multiple disabilities through both day and residential programs. We are located in Haddonfield, New Jersey, just a few miles east, across the Delaware River, from the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Our community extends to include the families and hometowns of our students. Many of our students come from small surrounding towns in Camden, Gloucester and Burlington Counties.
This area of South Jersey is both residential and commercial. Geographically it is primarily flat, with small creeks and marshes feeding into the Delaware River. While there are still some small farms and wooded areas, development and construction is ongoing.
2. Summary of Our Project
Our project investigated Seeing Eye puppies and dogs. To do so, we took advantage of the Educational Outreach available through 4-H Clubs and the Seeing Eye, Inc. Students participated in planning for a visit from Kathy Daly (local Puppy Placement Coordinator for the 4-H). They discussed and prepared questions to ask. Kathy gave an excellent presentation with her Seeing Eye Dog, Honor, and several short videos. Students asked questions and staff recorded Kathy's answers. Kathy left several written materials which students reviewed later. They especially enjoyed the comic/cartoon book about Bonnie, a Seeing Eye Dog. Students reflected on Kathy's visit and what they had learned through creative writing and drawings.
Using the Internet, we found a lot more information about the Seeing Eye, Inc. and 4-H Clubs. We learned about their history, and the people they help. Both include educational outreach in their missions. With guided direction from staff, students discussed findings and summarized main points they had learned. Some participated in assembling bibliographic information in written format. Using paper ballots with samples, students voted on the font style to be used for the website's banner heading and navigation. Some students worked on the glossary section. Others participated in developing and editing graphic images and photos used in the website. One student and one staff brought in photos of their pets to be scanned and used to represent some of the dog breeds the Seeing Eye uses. Students also worked on developing questions for an online test. They all practiced taking the test and reviewed their scores.
After the website was initially uploaded, students reviewed pages and made suggestions for editing, corrections, etc. as necessary. They really enjoyed seeing their work on the Internet. It made the project very special that others could also view what they had accomplished.
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:1
C. Connection speed used in the classroom:dedicated connection
D. Number of years our classroom has been connected to the Internet:2-3
4. Problems We Had To Overcome
We had some general issues related to unreliable Internet access. Due to the filtering software, conducting searches and downloading Internet sites was slow sometimes, and we would also get the 'file not found" message after "timing out". Because the class had limited access to a scanner, staff scanned student drawings and photos at home.
We got started later than we had originally planned, so it was sometimes a time crunch to plan and complete various components. The students who worked on the project demonstrate a wide range of skill levels (academic, attention, memory, language) so staff also had to make sure basic information was simply stated and reinforced through oral discussion, using pictures or concrete examples whenever possible. Staff used specific guided questions to help students focus on important information and also generate discussion. Some students participated independently in related writing activities, while others expressed their thoughts through group work or dictation.
5. Our Project Sound Bite
I had fun doing this website for CyberFair this year ... and I cannot wait until next year. I'm glad my entire class worked on it with me. (Kyle)
I like seeing my name on our website. CyberFair was fun. (Alyssa)
I liked showing people pictures of my dog Duke! (John)
6. How did your activities and research for this CyberFair Project support standards, required coursework and curriculum standards?
Our project addressed the following New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards: Cross Content Workplace Area Standard #2 (All students will use information, technology, and other tools); Visual and Performing Arts Area Standards # 1.3 (All students will utilize arts elements and arts media to produce artistic products and performances), and #1.4 (All students will demonstrate knowledge of the process of critique); Language Arts Literacy Area Standards # 3.1 (All students will speak for a variety of real purposes and audiences), # 3.2 (All students will listen actively in a variety of situations to information from a variety of sources), # 3.3 (All students will write in clear, concise, organized language that varies in content and form for different audiences and purposes), and # 3.5 (All students will view, understand, and use non-textual visual information).
As our program is dedicated to providing our students with opportunities to generalize skills in real-life practical applications, this project and using the Internet presented them with meaningful authentic tasks. Some of the specific skills addressed in addition to those mentioned in the formal standards included: speech and language communication, social behaviors, collaboration with peers, meeting and interacting with new people, using a democratic process (voting), computer skills (keyboarding, Internet searches, printing, graphic and web site creation software, saving/backups). Vocabulary terms introduced and discussed included "trademark" and "bibliography".