CyberFair Project ID: 1837

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International Schools CyberFair Project Narrative
Title: Mainely Our Own Local Specialties
Category: 4. Local Specialties
Bibliography: No bibliography page cited

School: Martel Elementary
    Lewiston, Maine, United States

15 students, ages from 8 to 10 worked together to complete this CyberFair project on March 4, 2002. They have participated in CyberFair in the following year(s): 2000,2001,2002

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. Other businesses are building new facilities on the outskirts of the city near highway access. These new companies small and large have a varied clientele that spread within the community area and expands to a global level.

2. Summary of Our Project

Our CyberFair 2002 entry, Mainely Our Own Local Specialties, was created to enrich the curriculum on our local community, Lewiston. All third graders of Lewiston, Maine must complete a unit of studies that focuses on the community. There is very little written information in this curriculum unit. Mrs. Letourneau's goal was to generate information that could be utilized by all six elementary schools within the Lewiston School System. Our project began with a scavenger hunt. Students each had 6 clues. They searched for examples of architecture, historical sites, local enterprises who donated to the poor, etc. The materials brought into class created a Lewiston collage. Using newspaper advertisements and telephone book students identified businesses that manufactured products locally and sold these goods throughout the nation. Some of theses were already on the collage other were not. Each student selected a local business to further gather information. Students arranged for interview, wrote questions, visited local businesses, and used this information to create the Local Specialties web page. The Sun Journal featured Letourneau's students technological achievement in a series of articles about technology in education. This publicity helped students acquire appointments for interviews.

A local entrepreneur and staff member, Mrs. Libby was a guess speaker. She brought in pictures, samples, and magazine articles in which her business was featured. Mrs. Libby discussed the steps that lead her to venture into the candy business. Students learned how business began, how they evolve to include special products, and how they can fulfill personal goals. The result was a wonderful addition to the Our Home Lewiston, the Your Home, Our Home, Lewiston, and Celebrating Heritage web-pages used by all third graders in their Lewiston. The CyberFair Project allowed us to continue learning about our community while fulfilling a need for written information about our community.

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:4-6

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 networked software which consists of Apple Works, Front Page Express, and The Ultimate Writing and Creativity Center.

4. Problems We Had To Overcome

In May 2000 Martel School was closed due to asbestos contamination. Software and some computer hardware were discarded during the asbestos abatement process. During summer vacation of 2001 Mrs. Letourneau’s new scanner, color printer, and cables were stolen. After a year of replacing asbestos abatement losses, the thief of these items was a great disappointment. The inconvenience of missing wires that connected the zip drive added frustration to the situation. Mr. Whitfield, Martel’s principal was able to replace the scanner and printer. Iomega generously donated replacement wires for the stolen wires. Mr. Julias, the Technology Administrator, provided the class with a new computer that enabled the students to use the Epson digital camera previously received from CyperFair 2000Competition. The worse problem occurred in late February. Many students had completed their web page and were in the process of having the local business owner or manager review the completed web page for accuracy. One local business never returned the manager disclosure form after several attempts. A second local business requested that the students web page not be published. The owners preferred to remain "low keyed" and out of "global eyes". Owners praised the students’ page for content, accuracy, and writing style. This was disheartening mainly because this particular business was the main focus of our entire web page. This local business is the most generous to local school functions, food banks, as well as having given a very generous amount to the New York Fire Department after September 11, 2001. The class discussed the need for honoring the request. This also led to a discussion about the meaning of an "anonymous gift". This was a set back but a valuable lesson in itself. The web page changes were made and no links were created for those two local establishments

5. Our Project Sound Bite

5. Student comments: 6. "My older brother in high school didn't believe that I wrote HTML! Best of all he can't." 7. 8. "Geiger Bros laid out a red carpet just for me to walk on like a supper star when I went to interview Mr. Geiger." 9. "Shoes, shoes, more shoes over 500 in one place!" 10. "Making the web-site was really really fun hard work!" 11. The manager said I "was very brave to interview" and that made me very proud of myself. 12. I've never been in a factory before and I had to wear safety goggles that I got to keep. 13. Parents: 14. "I am amazed at how much my family has discovered about Lewiston. 15. Local Businessmen: 16. Manager of Falcon Rule marveled that such youngsters were "Mastering life learning skills at such a young age. Wow I wish I were back in school"

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: scanning: creating animated graphics: 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 selecting a local business from the newspaper advertisements, the telephone book, or selecting parent's work place. Next students wrote interview questions. Parents and the school librarian arranged for interviews. They student wrote their information and typed his/her web page using The Ultimate Writing and Creativity Center Software. Later the class collectively wrote a letter to local businesses asking them to review their web page for accuracy and approval. Jake was responsible for editing corrections received. An amazing 10 out of 14 letters were received! Every letter praised students and suggested web page improvements. Two managers telephoned the school with suggestions and accolades for students. One request to remain anonymous. Only one business did not respond at all. Meanwhile Jake created an HTML WebPage that was later used in the Claris Home Page as our template. He was also in charge of copying, pasting, and updating our web pages. Since only one computer in the classroom has Claris Home Page, this process took several weeks to accomplish. Jacob was busy scanning brochures, cropping, editing and animating images. Other students used the digital camera taking photos around the school. Naomi gathered images from the digital camera and created a slide show about what our community, our school, and our classroom looks like. It hopefully reflects learning at Martel School. Christine used Emotion 3D software to create a wiggly wobbly dark green alphabet for our introductory page. 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. In addition to all this students assembled a product of their own.

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

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. 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?

An on-line article about last year's CyberFair Project has resulted in phone calls from local organizations inquiring into this year's project. Lindsey Tice of the Lewiston Sun Journal interviewed Mrs. Letourneau on how technology was being used in the classroom. Ms. Tice returned with a photographer to interview Mrs. Letourneau’s students. A technology article in the Lewiston Sun Journal featured Mrs. Letourneau’s classroom in a three part story on technology in schools. An article in the local Educational Feature of the Lewiston School Department will be published next month. 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 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, and parents. 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.  LRTC Law Enforcement Cadets 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. See how students produced a "Local Specialty" of there own in the slide show presentation on "The Making Of Our Product Quilt".


View our CyberFair Project (Project ID: 1837)

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