CyberFair Project ID: 1626

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International Schools CyberFair Project Narrative
Title: Celebrating Our Heritage
Category: 5. Local Attractions (Natural and Man-Made)
Bibliography: No bibliography page cited

School: Martel Elementary
    Lewiston, Maine, United States

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

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. Over the last century Lewiston has undergone many changes, growing from a small community into a bustling industrial community. With the decline of the textile industry, beginning in the 1960's, Lewiston suffered a decline of prosperity. Today, Lewiston is once again growing. New businesses are renovating the large mills that were built during the peak of the industrial revolution, helping Lewiston regain a strong economy while maintaining its historical landmarks. Many of the original mill workers were Canadian Immigrants. A strong Franco-American influence is still felt in Lewiston today. The drive to preserve the Franco-American heritage is evident in the many festivals and celebrations enjoyed throughout the year. These festivals attract thousands of visitors to our community while continuing to preserve and celebrate our heritage.

2. Summary of Our Project

Our CyberFair 2001 entry, Celebrating Our Cultural Heritage, was created to extend our local community curriculum. All third graders must complete a unit of studies that focuses on our local community, Lewiston. There is very little written information in this curriculum unit. Mrs. Letourneau's goal was to generate information that could be utilized by all the elementary schools within the Lewiston School System. Last years CyberFair 2000 Project proved so successful that various organizations inquired whether Mrs. Letourneau would again do this project. The local Shriners had inquired if the class would be interested in writing about their organization. However, the category "Local Attractions" was unanimously selected when a student informed the class that her father was a balloonist in The Great Falls Balloon Festival. Class discussions grew and students felt that festivals were way of celebrating our cultural heritage. With this realizations students made a list of all the festivals celebrated throughout the year in Lewiston and set out to discovery the "Why, Where, What, and Who" questions related to their festival. Students studied local cultural heritage as well as global cultural heritage by researching festivals of other countries. The result was a wonderful addition to the Our Home Lewiston and the Your Home, Our Home, Lewiston web-pages used by all third graders in their Lewiston. The CyberFair Project allowed us to continue learning about our community with fulfilling a need for written information about our community.

3. Our Computer and Internet Access

A. Percentage of students using the Internet at home:less than 20

B. Number of workstations with Internet access in the classroom:2-3

C. Connection speed used in the classroom:dial-up modem

D. Number of years our classroom has been connected to the Internet:2-3

E. Additional comments concerning your computer and/or Internet access (Optional):

Currently, our school computers range from donated PC's operating on Win 3.11 to newer computers operating on Win/NT. We have no computer lab and limited amount of networked software. In May 2000 Martel School was closed due to asbestos contamination. Most of the software and some computer hardware were discarded during the asbestos abatement process. In September the asbestos cleaned hardware was left in jumble on the cafeteria floor. The process of locating, carting, and uniting computer monitors, CPUs, printers, cables, etc. was a task left to our Technology Administrator, Mr. Joe Julias. Our computers were not up and working at the beginning of school. Many problems related to the asbestos clean up have persisted. Mr. Joe Julias diligently works at correcting the asbestos related problems (what I refer to as Asbestos Gremblins). His continuous efforts to fix problems enabled my students to attempt the CyberFair2001 Project.

4. Problems We Had To Overcome

The large amount of time is takes for 8-9 year olds to type, edit drafts, correct spelling were the worst obstacles. The Win/NT would not allow for downloading software for writing word games not a Korean translator. Students wanted to add some sentences in Korean to their summary of Kan Hanoe's visit. The solution was to hand copy the writing, scan the drawings, and writing, and save it as a JPG image. Students also used Claris Home Page 3.1 to create a Vocabulary Challenge instead of a Melting Snowman Word Game that they could not be downloaded from the Internet. Students typed drafts onto The Ultimate Creative Writing Center. Everyone had access to that program any of classroom computers. Then students cut and pasted their revised work onto Microsoft Word. Students now had the task of making the green squiggly lines go away. Finally students could save their work as HTML. Some students had difficulty with cutting and pasting. They would only forget to highlight their work and panic that all had been lost when it did not paste into Microsoft Word. Asbestos abatement delayed setting up computers and caused many program errors.(These I call my "Asbestos Gremblins") Other problems due to the asbestos clean up included keyboard problems; some keys to work only in CapLock and other keyboards would jam often before student work could be saved. Our worst obstacle occurred on March 6, 2001 when our Project Home page crashed. It was a Power Point Presentation with animated floating balloons. Students loved it. However, it just did not want to work when uploaded onto the server. From March 6th to March 9th the Project Home page had to be rebuilt. It is functional but not as animated as the Power Point page.

5. Our Project Sound Bite

"Wow","Cool", "That can hold three people?" "Awesome", words of excitement as Mr. Rodrique brings in his experimental basket to class. "I'm going to be a published author!" proudly exclaimed an eight year old girl who already wanted to be a famous writer one day. "Can you write in Korean?" students asked Kan Hanoe,a Korean foreign exchange students, who came to visit and tell the class about the Korean equivalent to our Thanksgiving Celebration. One little girl proudly stated ,"I learned to cooperate", "We worked together, and got along." This alone is quite an accomplishment for eight year old. Excitement about learning new ideas, excitement about sharing ones culture, and excitement about celebrating our cultural heritage.

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

The State of Maine's Learning Results require that all third grade students develop historical knowledge of their local community (Lewiston). The CyberFair project provided an interesting and motivating way to cover the existing curriculum requirements in Social Studies, English Language Arts, Visual and Performing Arts, as well as Science and Technology. The project extended well beyond the required curriculum standards. It included developing communication skills, organizing photos with text: editing: writing: designing: and publishing skills: computer skills: keyboarding: cutting and pasting. These skills were necessary for students to create their web page. In fact it would be very lengthy to list all the specific content areas, standards, and performance indicators listed in the State of Maine Learning Results. The most exciting aspect of this project was that students practiced and mastered so many skills while enjoying themselves. The idea of restating in their own words was very difficult for these eight-and-nine year old students. For eight-and-nine year old students copying verbatim was writing their own work. Learning about plagiarism and giving correct references was a new concept. This was a wonderful learning experience disguised as pure pleasure.

Project Elements

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

Students began by researching Festivals on the Internet. Next students wrote their drafts in class. Every student typed his/her report using The Ultimate Writing and Creativity Center Software.. Once the initial typing and spell checking were completed, students cut and pasted their report onto Microsoft Word. Only one computer in the classroom has Microsoft Word. The "green squiggly lines" puzzled students and once aware of grammar issues students worked at making the green squiggles go away. This process took several weeks to accomplish. Work completed was saved as HTML. Several students added sound to their pages. Rick Charest's "Hot Air Balloon" from his album Alligator in the Elevator. Some added French songs "Un Crapeau" and "Frère Jacque" from Traditional French Songs an album by our strings instructor Greg Boardman and Michael Parent. An enthusiastic parent Mr. Rodrigue, volunteered to share his expertise on ballooning. He brought in several books as well as an actual Hot Air Balloon Basket. The Rodrigue family photo album provided students with many original photos of hot air balloons for their writing projects. Students phoned the Festival the Joie coordinator, Mr. Guay, for pamphlets and newspaper articles. Others set up an interview with Mr. Guay to learn about the Franco-Americans responsible for the Festival the Joie. Another group of students interviewed Dr. Reeder one of the founders of The Great Falls Balloon Festival. Parents arranged meeting places for students groups to work together over the weekend and over February vacation. Mrs. Letourneau set up an e-mail account on inviting other classes from around the world to share their customs, heritage, and celebrations of their countries. Teachers who heard of our "Celebrating Our Heritage with Festivals" project contacted visiting foreign exchange students to come and speak to our class. Resources found us.

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

Students took on their task in a very responsible manner. They wrote list of interview questions. They practiced interviewing each other before meeting the coordinators of the festivals. Local representatives of the Shiners and Knights of Columbus called the school for information on CyberFair. Even Senator Collin's office inquired into our project. Students were enthusiastic and excited about interviewing the festival coordinators. Students 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. The principal, Dr. Reeder, Mr. Guay were impressed by these little ambassadors.

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

An article about the balloonist's visits to our classroom was published in the local Educational Insert of the Lewiston Sun Journal. An on-line article about last year's CyberFair Project has resulted in phone calls from local organizations inquiring into this year's project. Senator Susan Collins' office contacted Mrs. Letourneau inquiring on how technology was being used in the classroom. Local teachers are using the web-page created by Mrs. Letourneau and her class as a teaching resource. The Lewiston Unit web-page, the Our Home Lewiston web-page (last year's CyberFair Project 2000), the Your Home, Our Home, Lewiston web-page(a spin off from our 2000CyberFair Project), as well as this year's 2001 CyperFair Project, Celebrating our Cultural Heritage, are being used as reference material for all third graders throughout the city of Lewiston. A student from Boston University e-mail Mrs. Letourneau informing her that he had used CyberFair2000 Project web page as part of his study Lewiston industrial era for his studies at Boston University. Isn't it amazing that third graders helped a university student. The CyperFair Projects have received positive praise from school administrators, teachers, and parents, teachers, and parents. Mr. Julias will be burning 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 and grandparents who shuffled students to homes on weekends and during February vacation. · Mr. James Rodrique a local balloonist · Ms. Kan Hanoe a Korean foreign exchange student. · Ms. Beth Bilodeau a student who visited Japan and shared her experience with our class. · Business people who agreed to be interviewed by students and how generously provided students and the class with resource materials, brochures, old newspaper clippings, as well as personal materials on the topic. · Visitors reacting to our Web- site bulletin board who arranged for Korean foreign exchange students to visit our classroom. · The Chapter I staff helped student revise and edit their work. The list of all the people who volunteered to help these students is very long. The excitement was contagious and people came forward volunteering their knowledge and resources. A very special thank you to Mr. James Rodrique for visiting our classroom during a snowstorm and bringing in his experimental balloon basket. His extensive knowledge of the history of the hot air balloon was impressive. Our thanks also go to Mr. Joe Julias, Technology Administrator, who came in without delay to debug software, and to Ms. Jan Brackett, Technology Specialist, who arranged for us to post the final project on the school system's server. 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)

The project brought many joys and surprises. One little girl excitedly told her parents about our CyberFair festival project. This little girl wanted to learn about the festivals of her father's home. She began asking her dad about Puerto Rico and their local festivals. He told her the Puerto Rico had no festivals. She continued to question him about local customs and celebrations. He drew a blank and could not retell any to his daughter. Somewhere during the discussion her mother came into the room. It was then that the mother reminded him of local Christmas customs of "The Three Kings", the "Sweet Sixteen" celebrations, etc. The girl came into class the next day overjoyed at what she had learned from her parents. This parent child interaction reflects how classroom projects can extend into the family and spill over into the community. Her information did not come from research as much as from bonding with her parents. Students were so excited about the balloonist's visit that they wrote a Hot Air Balloon book. Another group spun an adventure story about flying in a Hot Air Balloon. Other students were fascinated by the Korean letters and wanted to learn about this alphabet. This project grows and grows spinning off in new areas.


View our CyberFair Project (Project ID: 1626)

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