1. Description of Our Community
Wabash County is located about in the middle of Indiana, but a little bit to the north. The Wabash River runs through our county. Many acres of flat, fertile farm ground are along the river. Farming has been an important business ever since the Wabash & Erie Canal was built through our county. The canal was built along beside the Wabash River. Many of our present towns are here because of the canal. The towns grew because people who worked on the canal decided to stay and live in this community. They also grew because the canal brought farmers from all over northern Indiana. They wanted to ship their crops on the canal. Lagro, now a very small town, was once the largest town in the county. There were many businesses in Lagro to serve all of the people coming because of the canal. The people decided they needed a church. Many of them were Catholic, so they built Saint Patrick's Church. This church is now on the National and Indiana Historic Registries. Many people worked together to get the church recognized. The Friends of Saint Patrick are still working together to preserve the church.
2. Summary of Our Project
Our project focuses on the historical landmarks from when the Wabash & Erie Canal changed our community. Since there were few people living in this area at the time the canal was built, workers had to be brought in from other places. Advertisements were placed in newspapers of eastern cities to attract the immigrants that were coming into our country. German stone masons came to carve local limestone into building blocks for the canal locks. The Kerr Locks are one of the historical landmarks that can be seen in Lagro, Indiana yet today. Because of the potato famine in Ireland, there were many Irish who came to help build the canal. Many of them decided to stay in this community to raise their families. One of their first community projects was to build a church. Today, Saint Patrick's Church is on both the National and Indiana Historic Registries. Our project tells the story of the canal and of the church. It is divided into five sections: Building the Canal, Traveling on the Canal, St. Patrick's Church, How the Canal Changed Lagro, and the Story of the Bell. The Care and Unite theme is shown beginning when the people came together to build the canal and the church, when the Protestants and Catholics together raised money to purchase the church bell, to The Friends of St. Patrick's who are working today to preserve the historical church.
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: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 information or what has been done when the project is spread out over so long a period of time. We really had to work hard to stay organized and know what needed done each week. It helped that we made a time line at the beginning of the project. Even though we have charts to write down what the file names are, we sometimes have trouble remembering what is saved where. Another problem was naming how to name files correctly.
5. Our Project Sound Bite
Our community research project is the highlight of our year. Students learn the real meaning of research. They have the opportunity to go into the community to collect data through observation. They learn interview skills to get information from community experts. They learn to use the historical archives in the local library. They have a real reason to apply their reading and writing skills. Since their final product is a web site that is shared with a real audience, they are motivated to do their very best work.
6. How did your activities and research for this CyberFair Project support standards, required coursework and curriculum standards?
This Cyberfair project fits beautifully with our Indiana standards. During the project the students were actively implementing the following language arts standards for grade four: Students 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. Students write clear sentences and paragraphs that develop a central idea; including drafting, revising, and editing. Students are 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. When I asked the students what they learned, they focused on technology: learning to use a scanner, digital camera, tape recorder, making a web page, moving files. No one mentioned the language skills from the standards. They weren't even aware of the REAL learning.