CyberFair Project ID: 2265

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International Schools CyberFair Project Narrative
Title: Education In Wabash County
Category: 3. Business and Community Organizations
Bibliography: No bibliography page cited

School: Quest Program
    Wabash, Indiana, USA

16 students, ages 9-10 worked together to complete this CyberFair project on March 21, 2003. They have participated in CyberFair in the following year(s): 2001, 2002

Classes and Teachers: Lavonne Sparling

E-Mail contact:

Our School's Web Site:

Project Overview

1. Description of Our Community

Wabash County is in north central Indiana. It is mostly rural with a few small towns. Three public school corporations cover the county. There is one private college campus and a local branch of a junior college. We have one Carnegie Library and three very small community libraries. Our county recently received a large grant to help improve education. There are now two Learn-More Centers for adults and many programs just getting started that we hope will improve our 42% functional illiteracy level.

2. Summary of Our Project

Education is important. Everyone can read. Schools are a business. Are these true statements? During our study of Education in Wabash County, the fourth grade Quest students made some discoveries. They found that some people did not take school seriously when they were young and that they now regret this. Other people didn't have an opportunity to learn because of various personal or family problems. Today, in Wabash County the functional illiteracy rate is estimated to be as high as 42 %.

During our investigation of education in our county, the students learned that there are many people working to help improve the learning of our citizens. There are learning organizations for everyone from preschool through college and even for adults. We collected evidence that shows public schools are big business in our community. Our graphs show that schools employ more people than many of our factories!

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:4-6

C. Connection speed used in the classroom:dedicated connection

D. Number of years our classroom has been connected to the Internet:more than 6

4. Problems We Had To Overcome

The greatest problem is that this class only meets one day a week. It is hard to remember what we have learned, to keep track of our materials, and to know what still needs done when a project is spread out over a long period of time. We really had to work hard to stay organized and know what needed to be done each week. To solve this problem, we made a time line. We planned dates for our research field trips, for visitors to our class, and we set target dates for each part of the project to be completed. To solve the problem of keeping track of materials, we organized a three ring binder with labeled sections for each part of the project. To help with the problem of forgetting the information we gathered, all interviews (in person or by telephone) were tape recorded. Email interviews were printed and stored in our project notebook. This way the information was available for students to refer to over and over again. Also to help us be organized, we created a large wall-sized diagram of our web site. Each page was represented by a note card. On the card was the file name of the page, graphics, and background along with the name of the student(s) responsible for that page. This helped solve several problems, for example, students changing the file names of their page not realizing that others were making links to a previous filename. We drew lines on the wall chart to show physically which pages were linked together. With this planning map, the students were able to visualize how their pieces fit togther to create the whole. We used color coded stickers to indicate where each page was in the process of creating and editing for publication.

5. Our Project Sound Bite

Our Education is Wabash County project provided students an opportunity to participate in real research and to work with others in the community to accomplish a goal. Our hopes are that the final project will make a difference by encouraging education for people in our community.

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

This project incorporates many of our Indiana standards. During the project, students were actively implementing the following language arts standards for grade four: read and understand appropriate material: ask and respond to essential questions, compare information from several sources, read expository tests, including magazines, newspapers, reference materials, and online information; write clear sentences and paragraphs that develop a central idea; including drafting, revising, and editing; introduced to writing informational reports including researching and organizational strategies; writing demonstrates an awareness of the audience and purpose for writing. The project is especially appropriate for fourth graders because our social studies requirements are for state history including our local community. Using the Internet as our final product provides a real audience. Students are motivated to proofread and edit because they know their work will be viewed by many people. Presenting their information through a web page allows students to share with all family members, even those who live far away. The project this year really allowed students to learn more about the many organizations that work together to provide education in our county. To read the students viewpoints on what learning skills were involved, please visit "How We Did This Project and What We Learned " portion of their web project.

Project Elements

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

Information sources included making research trips to the public library, a college campus, adult learning center, and to several other schools in our county. We used the vertical file at the local library. Students learned to use the copier to make copies of materials. We used local newspapers and brochures from several community and government organizations. Telephone interviews were taped (with permission) by a device attached to our classroom telephone. That allowed students to listen to the interview several times as they wrote their report. This was especially important since students might interview one week but not write their report until class meets the next week. Tape recorders were used during visits to businesses or for face-to-face interviews as well. As a convenience to busy adults, some interviews were done by email.

We have a dozen Windows computers in our classroom. The students used a word processor to write their paragraphs and Netscape Composer to design the pages. They used Print Shop to write thank-you notes and to create envelopes personalized with graphics. We used EXCEL to organize data and create graphs. We used large poster-sized paper to organize our beginning notes. Small groups of students share a zip disk to save their paragraphs (typed on the word processor), their graphics, and their web pages. We have one scanner and a digital camera. Graphics for the web page were scanned (either photographs or original artwork) or taken by the students during a community research trip.

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

Students talked with many people during this project. We used the telephone, email, and wrote letters. Most of the people we had contact with are fascinated that the students can actually develop a web page and they are very interested in seeing our final project. Parents and grandparents enjoyed being a part of their students learning. Some came to the classroom to help, others helped arrange research trips, and many helped by working with their child at home to proofread the draft version of the project on the Internet. Many of the adults we interviewed are eager for us to share our completed project with them. Some community organizations have asked if they can put a link from their web site to ours. Our students have been invited to become volunteers to help others learn to read better. We also hope to make presentations later this spring to community organizations, including our school board.

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

We feel that our project will make a great contribution to our community. The students and their parents are more informed about education and how they can become volunteers to help others learn. Through local media coverage of our project our web site will become better known and hopefully will influence the community in a positive way.

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

We really appreciate all of the helpers that we had for this project. There were teachers, principals, parents, government officials, college professors, college public relations directors, college deans, and many, many more. A full listing of helpers can be found on our credits page:


View our CyberFair Project (Project ID: 2265)

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