CyberFair Project ID: 1812

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International Schools CyberFair Project Narrative
Title: HEROs: Hispanic, Educated, Respected, Outstanding
Category: 1. Local Leaders
Bibliography: No bibliography page cited

School: Lawrence Family Development Charter School
    Lawrence, Massachusetts, United States

21 students, ages from 7 to 8 worked together to complete this CyberFair project on March 28, 2002. They have participated in CyberFair in the following year(s): 2002

Classes and Teachers: Jan Morris, Stan Froncki, Elsa Arias, Maritza Perez, Borey Bou,

E-Mail contact:

Our School's Web Site:

Project Overview

1. Description of Our Community

Lawrence is a small city on the banks of the Merrimack River in Northern Massachusetts. Best known for its role in the industrial revolution, Lawrence was at one time deemed "woolen capital of the world". It is also the setting for the famous Bread and Roses Strike of 1912, a strike that sparked debates of labor laws and began the women’s rights movement. Since it’s establishment in 1847, Lawrence has been home to many hard working and proud people from various cultures and backgrounds. It’s nickname is the "Immigrant City". Today Lawrence’s proud past stands face to face with it’s future. The beautiful architecture of the past (large Victorian homes, Greek pillars, churches on almost every block) are crowded in by housing projects, boarded up houses and littered streets. Lawrence is the 23rd poorest city in the United States. Although it is a small city, it struggles with the problems of big cities: poverty, drugs, gangs, unemployment, and poor schools. The Lawrence Family Development Charter School is a k-8 dual language program. We serve the growing Hispanic population and strive to foster cultural pride and family values. Our motto is "Strengthening families….Building communities".

2. Summary of Our Project

After the tragic events of September 11, we began to talk about heroes. We thought heroes were make- believe. We decided that a hero was someone who "saved the day" by helping other people. This began an interesting journey to find heroes around us, real heroes. People we could touch, see, and get to know. We looked around for people we could relate to, people who were: Hispanic, Educated, Respected and Outstanding. At first we wanted to include everybody (hair dressers, pizza cooks, taxi drivers etc.). After looking over our list of suggestions, we returned to our criteria. Was this person Hispanic, Educated, Respected, and Outstanding? Did this person save the day by helping others? We narrowed our list to include people we thought our city needed to run safely. We asked everyone we knew if they knew someone who was a HERO. Finally we had eleven names of people who made a difference in our community. We got out the phone book, found their numbers and called them. We needed to explain our project and ask if they wanted to be a HERO. We set up appointments for each person to visit our class to be interviewed. One by one our HEROs came in. Each person had a wonderful story to tell, and each had a special message: get your education, be proud of your heritage, and have a voice. As we have interviewed our HEROs and written their stories for our web site, we have developed an understanding of our community, it’s strengths and it’s weakness, and what we can do to help. It has been comforting to know that heroes are all around us. It has been empowering to know that we too can be heroes by telling our stories and sharing ourselves.

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:1

C. Connection speed used in the classroom:dedicated connection

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):

We needed to use two different platforms to do this project. Students had to type on Macintoshes and the web page was constructed on Windows.

4. Problems We Had To Overcome

When we we were beginning this project we wanted to use Geocities to host the web site, but Geocities has advertisements, and we felt that would not be appropriate. An account was found by Mr. Froncki( his internet provider gave him 15 mb of space). This space had no advertisements, but it also held our school web page. We had to be conscious of space, so we had to limit the size of pictures and video clips.Hyden's video clips takes up the most space on our site! One of our HEROs didn't feel like he was a suitable HERO candidate. He felt better when Mrs.Morris told him that the students chose him because he met all of our criteria, and agreed to be one of our HEROs. Of course we had time limitations so we had to be very organized and work hard to finish everything. The students had difficulty writing the reports based on their notes. Sometimes we had to call up our HERO and clarify the information. It was also hard to translate the reports, but we felt it was important to include these. We wanted to include a sound clip of each of our visitors in English and Spanish, but on our trip to the fire station we accidentlly erased the cassette.

5. Our Project Sound Bite

We used to think that a hero was someone who flew through the sky and shot laser beams out of their eyes. Now we know that a hero is someone who helps the community. So if you want to find a hero, don’t look in the sky, look around you! And if you dare, look within yourself!

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

In addition to the technology standards required by our state, this project has met many of our history and social science standards. In History, (learning standard 3), students are required to do research and understand evidence and point of view. As we interviewed our visitors and learned about their contributions to our community, we understood the importance (and fun) of doing research. At the second grade level our research was basic, but powerful. We needed to solve problems and brainstorm solutions (How are we going to contact these people? Where can we get their numbers?) Interviewing and writing the reports also met standards in writing and speaking. In Civics and Government (learning standard 16) students are asked to identify authority, responsibility and power. We learned about our local and state government and the importance of having a voice. We learned about our rights and responsibilities as citizens. When we went to the state house, we learned about how laws are passed! In principals and practices of American Government and Citizenship (standard 18 and 19) we learned how America gained its independence from England and the people pulled together to create a fair and safe government for everybody. In economics (learning standard 13) students learn about American and Massachusetts economic history. We learned that Lawrence had a proud past as a mill town, but even back then, decisions were made that weren’t fair for everybody. Before the Bread and Roses Strike the workers were asked to work long hours with very little money. The immigrants didn’t have a voice until they decided to strike. Today we know that to make a difference in our community you need to have a voice.

Project Elements

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

We used telephones with teleconferencing to contact our people. This way, both students could speak and hear their HERO. We used our digital camera to photograph our visitors. We used ten Macintosh computers in the computer lab to type our reports and create our wordsearches. We used a scanner to scan our artwork. We used a PC to design the web page. We used word search construction program, Claris Works, and Word 2000. We interviewed each person.We used our trip to the State House to gather more information on state government. Our most useful tools were the telephone and our computers because they allowed us to communicate with our people and present their stories on our web page.

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

The timing of our project has been perfect for teaching the concept of ambassadorship. There have been heated debates in our state regarding the future of charter schools. Should the state put more money into charter schools or should the number of charter schools be limited? A nearby charter school in Lynn will be closed. At the same time, the existence of bilingual education is being debated. As a dual language charter school, we knew it was important to educate our visitors about our school and the special things we do here. Our class was invited to the state house to see where our state representative (Jose Santiago ) worked. We visited the day before the house was to discuss the future of charter schools. We made sure to let everyone know that we were from a charter school and to tell them about our special project. When people asked us what we were doing at the state house, several students replied," We are ambassadors from the Lawrence Family Development Charter School. We are here to visit our state representative, Jose Santiago." Everyone we met was very impressed. Dalia Diaz wrote an article on us in her paper, the RUMBO, and we were contacted by another local paper to tell our story. The commissioner of education, David Driscoll recently visited our school and had a chance to meet my class and hear their concerns. We felt like heroes as well as ambassadors, defending and protecting our school, our culture and our community.

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

We are hoping that our web site will allow people to see the best of Lawrence, instead of its overwhelming needs. We know that our city faces many problems, but we also know that there are HEROs out there who are helping to change things for the better. We think that our story will bring comfort and hope to other cities that struggle with the same issues we have. Our project is about connecting with others around us and realizing how each individual¹s contribution makes an impact on the entire community. It is also important to acknowledge the people who serve our community. Almost everyone we contacted never even knew that he/she was a hero! We think it helps to remind people not to give up, that the future of our community depends on those with the desire to help. We are hoping to contact the Mayor to ask him to award people who are Hispanic, Educated, Respected and Outstanding every year. Many people have heard about our project and visited us to find out more.

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

We asked for help from our superintendent, Patricia Karl, because she knew many people in our city. She suggested some of the people we could call. We also asked our Head of School, Carmen Schumann to help us because she knew Judge Borenstein. She helped us arrange his visit. We also relied on our trusty computer teacher, Mr. Stan Fronki. He spent many hours trying to find ways to help us best present our work. Thank you also to Maritza Perez and Borey Bou, our classroom assistants who helped us with calling our HEROs and translating our reports. Thank you to Elsa Arias, our Spanish teacher, who helped us with editing our translations. Mostly we relied on our eleven HEROs to share their stories with us! You have inspired us to be the best we can be. We hope this web site will bring you the recognition that you all deserve.

5) Discoveries, Lessons and Surprises (Optional)

I think the most amazing discovery we made was about ourselves. When we began this project we said we wanted to be dancers, singers and baseball players when we grew up. Jairus wanted to be Captain Underpants. Now we want to be judges, doctors, scientists, teachers, firefighters, and writers. We realized that we do have a voice. We know that our city needs help. We also know that there are many people out there who unselfishly give their time, energy and expertise to make this city a better place. We found that as people heard about our project they suggested more people to consider. We would like to see this become a yearly award given to people in the Hispanic community who make a difference. Now we need to talk to our Mayor to make it official! We also discovered the importance of being bilingual. Each of our visitors told us how being bilingual helped him/her in their work. We are proud of our ability to communicate in two languages. We know that not everyone understands or appreciates the Hispanic culture. We also know that we are ambassadors of dual language programs. We can educate people and help them understand how important it is to be bilingual. Also, in a time when our country is in turmoil, we can look around us, and find safety and comfort in those closest to us.


View our CyberFair Project (Project ID: 1812)

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