1. Description of Our Team
Mr. Waterson was reading his son’s foreign policy statement on the U.S. State Department home page regarding issues of Kosovo. He noticed a link “new international competition”. Later that day he presented this program to our A.P. Government class and said somewhat gently, “would any of you consider doing this?, I think it would be awesome”. The first meeting is still fresh in our minds, we decided to approach the subject from five perspectives while sharing a common purpose, “The History of Foreign Relations”. Our research was initially very random and somewhat lacking in focus so at the half-way point we trashed it and started over with a teaching model of an interactive tutorial, now we were on our way!! Looking back we had now idea how expansive this would become, how committed we would be, and most amazing how well our components started to blend together. The personalities of our team are really very diverse which gives our project five unique perspectives. Jacob, the quintessential leader, focused on economics. Mark, our resident historical scholar, immediately began covering the globe with his special researching skills. Austin the relentless one took on major responsibilities ranging from our secretary to resource catalogue coordinator while covering major events. Catherine, the beautiful writer crafter her talents under the category of religion & culture, even having one of her articles picked up by the associated press: http://www.indystar.com. Amy was our unknown source who came up with so many creative and novel ideas demonstrating her mature insight and intellect while examining alliances. The most vivid memories will be our ability to adapt, adjust and persevere (computers, ugh! technology, ugh!), even though it seemed at every point there was a major obstacle. Above all, we will always remember the fun we had and we will always be the “Doors to Diplomacy” TEAM!
2. Summary of Our Project
It has been the goal of this group, throughout the project, to make education “rigorous and relevant.” In order to do this, East Noble has approached the history of foreign relations from multiple angles that examine the past, present, and future of this subject. We have broken up foreign relations into five factors: economics, government, culture/religion, alliances, and major events. Each category first gives a basic understanding of how this factor affects world diplomacy. Expanding upon this, each category contains multiple articles that highlight historical and current events which illustrate what must be learned. Since each category is inherently different, each teaches and shows this history from a different perspective and in a different style, allowing the reader to relate with whatever material they feel comfortable. We believe that this will greatly enhance interest in the site and enhance learning. The emphasis of the project is to give the reader first an understanding of what constitutes foreign relations and how it works. Once this is done, the web site becomes a massive research tool that explores the issue from several outlooks as well as offering in depth historical data on various issues. Yet, we wish to have the reader participate with the information given and not learn just by rote. A tutorial scenario engages the reader by presenting a hypothetical situation in international diplomacy. The reader, within certain wide age groups, can then attempt to solve the problem by examining each of the five factors of foreign relations. With teaching articles, a research tool, and a sort of mind puzzle using everything that has been learned, East Noble hopes to offer the local, state, and international audiences the very best learning experience “in the history of foreign relations.”
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:more than 6
C. Connection speed used in the classroom:dedicated connection
D. Number of years our classroom has been connected to the Internet:4-6
E. Additional comments concerning your computer and/or Internet access (Optional):
East Noble provides students with free e-mail service after school hours. Students also have access to store material and can set up a “class” service to keep the material in a special folder. The “Doors to Diplomacy” team was allowed to create a first class link to access the whole corporation and a “Doors to Diplomacy” forum was created to enable communication between the team and all staff and administration personnel who are on first class service.
4. Problems We Had To Overcome
By nature, the students involved with this titanic project are those most active in their local and peer communities. Scheduling difficulties arose almost immediately with sports, theatre, community involvement, religious activities, employment, and student government. Our calendar has been horrible since this entire activity is an extracurricular affair. Having meetings on top of duties in other offices and responsibilities has been exhausting and extremely frustrating. The work was laid out in order to give each individual a certain autonomy as to what material was researched and the quantity of articles written. Each of the five members was given over to their own passions and interests which, interestingly, happen to coincide with the five factors of foreign relations. The result is five dedicated young scholars who have been, upon occasion, a bit over enthusiastic. On top of this research, a great deal of time was used in expansive efforts to make the project go that extra mile. Such rewarding endeavors as the favorable Model United Nations competition and the scenario tutorial were born in this light. Undoubtedly, these each had fantastic merit and an incredible impact on our calendars. Still, the research and knowledge presented in this project is all the richer for these pursuits. Several minor problems have also arisen from certain shortages, not the least of which is funding. Our area has been hampered by snowstorms, and our researchers have suffered seasonal illnesses. Frighteningly, our chief technical advisor is deeply committed at college and often hard to communicate with. Finally, we have had a “crisis” with our school’s server, which hosts the web site. Communication has been slowed and nearly stalled completely for almost an entire month. This has been a dire technical problem to the degree that we are now searching for another server.
5. Our Project Sound Bite
“Diplomacy is not easy, but it is essential.” This was the resounding theme of all of our efforts throughout our community. As we became engrossed in the project it is the first major epiphany our team had. After we presented our tutorial to local fifth graders, it is the response that they gave. It is the same statements made by the many teachers, administrators, local community members (Kiwanis Club, Lions Club, Rotary Club, etc.), and peers. What have we learned? What have we taught? It all comes down to this – the welfare of all people depends upon the constructive, courageous, and visionary efforts of our world leaders; and it is drastically important that we, as citizens and community members, educate ourselves concerning world affairs and work constructively to teach others, encourage others, voice our opinions, and remain open to other people an other cultures.
6. How did your activities and research for this CyberFair Project support standards, required coursework and curriculum standards?
We did not complete this project as part of a classroom curriculum. It was completely extracurricular and voluntary, with no incentive for involvement. We initiated this project with a mission statement which is enclosed on the homepage for simple reference. Our articles, links, and graphics are continual reflections of our goal. When composing our narrative we worked together to assure no topic was overlooked. We wrote formally and intriguingly to capture interest while relating our personal discoveries and intellectual expansions. We believe our community played an essential role in our completion of this project, so we have distinctly described it on a link from our home page. Included throughout our narrative is a description of not only our efforts to create involvement, but the reactions we have received. Our articles and pages are comfortably designed for various comprehension levels which are easily recognizable by title and content, such as the Junior Diplomat, which implies that the article of an elementary level. Our articles are relevant and thus written in a clear and coherent manner to benefit the reader. After our extensive, up to date, and precise research was completed we compiled our sources, the variety of which is addressed in the narrative, into one resource page. We then worked relentlessly to assure that all surfers that visit our site are able to easily and quickly access all links within and outside our project. Links were created so our audience could further follow topics of their interest. Icons are clearly labeled as to their destination. Once a visitor reaches their desired component we have provided some visual and audio aids to enhance and involve the visitor in the topic being discussed. We were creative in our web design to strike surfers’ interest and compel our audience to further explore our website.
1) What information tools & technologies did you used to complete your CyberFair project?
We live in an age of technology and thankfully our school is equipped to meet the standards for this project. Although the internet was our main source we used a variety of resources to gather information: books, oral and written interviews, and newspapers. After obtaining the materials necessary, we used outlets including the following: radio station WCVM 94.7 to inform community members of our project and encourage them to visit our site, large screen projection board (smart board) to display our website for community groups and elementary classes on-site, published newspaper articles (4) to keep our community updated on our progress, digital cameras to relate our experiences visually, and PowerPoint presentations to effective communicate the goals and achievements of our website. These tools enhanced our mobile abilities and made for easier more effective presentations. Aside from computers and the internet our local newspaper (The Kendallville News Sun) was our most indispensable tool because of the awareness and support it raised for our project. Overall our greatest assets were the people who assisted us and made our entire project possible.
2) In what ways did you act as "ambassadors" and spokespersons for your CyberFair project both on-line and in person.
As East Noble ambassadors, the goal of the web site is to create an intellectual ripple effect. We wanted to excite the community about the importance of foreign relations and to share what we have learned. After many phone calls, e-mails and personal conversations, we presented to several groups and will present to others this spring. In February, we taught two of Amy Norton’s fifth-grade classes in Rome City, using our site’s tutorial about the hypothetical Omegan conflict. We did not want to “dumb down” the material, but we adjusted and simplified most of the concepts. The students were very attentive and receptive, and they seemed to absorb the concepts included in the five components. Norton was especially pleased with our lessons and has incorporated our web site into her curriculum. Our tutorial involves using multiple skills: web navigation, reading, social studies and critical thinking. Another way we promoted our project was presenting to the Kendallville Rotary Club on March 4th. The group was obviously very different from Norton’s class, but we adjusted our presentation. Instead of guiding them through the tutorial, we shared our six-month adventure of creating the project. The Rotarians were incredibly interested, and our presentation lasted longer than expected (45 minutes) due to their questions about the situation with Iraq. We also made a similar presentation to the Indianapolis Social Studies Convention three days later. We met several educators who were impressed with our project. (That boosted our spirits.) Dr. Peter Gibbons discussed heroism and American culture. He signed our books, “A Call to Heroism,” and answered some of our questions about American culture and the future of the United States. He offered to speak at our school. In April we will speak to the Kendallville Lions Club, Kiwanis, East Noble School Board, and other classes.
3) What has been the impact of your project on your community?
Our project has made outreaches to our local community our first priority. If we could make a difference locally, then our efforts would have been worth while. Therefore, since the beginning of our project we worked to involve our community and share our website with as many people as possible. Our goal was to convey the importance of diplomacy and international compassion. We began by targeting the youth of our area – teaching Rome City’s 5th grade classes we worked with students on the five basic factors of diplomacy and how they directly affected them in our junior diplomats page. Mrs. Norton (5th grade teacher) has now incorporated our website into her curriculum. Next we shared our project our peers. We issued diplomacy surveys to 5th, 9th, and 12th graders in our school corporation and encouraged them to visit our site. Finally, we met with as many community leaders and citizens as possible through groups such as the Lions Club, Kiwanis, Rotary Club, and the School Board. We also traveled to Indianapolis to share our experiences with teachers at the Indiana State Social Studies Convention. Our presentation was unique because it was interactive – we encouraged critical thinking and suggestions from our audiences. Visitors to our website have not only learned what diplomacy constitutes, but how to evaluate current diplomatic conditions. Throughout this project we have continued to create relationships with teachers, administrators, local businesses, community leaders, and students. Other schools and teachers throughout the state have seen our website along with businesses, community groups, family members, and college professors among others. Our feedback has been a good blend of positive support and constructive criticism. Through much work, we have created a website that teaches people that diplomacy is directly related to their life and therefore they must take notice of it.
4) How did your project involve other members of your community as helpers and volunteers?
Our community may be very small and isolated from diplomatic activity, but we found many community people to be extremely helpful. We deeply appreciate them for their time and effort. Ball State student and East Noble student Paul McDonald donated countless hours helping us construct our web site along with Kay Reinoehl. McDonald has been extremely patient despite our endless technology problems, his crazy school and work schedule and our communication problems. Pastor Clothier used his expertise in religion to suggest sources for us and to write answer our questions about religion how it pertains to the possible war with Iraq. George Witwer majored in international relations at Yale University. He also advised us and wrote articles about Korea and Japan which added perspective to our project. American Field Service Thai exchange teacher Sasipan Suangchu added some Southeast Asian flavor to our project. She answered questions about Buddhism and she intends to use our web site in her classroom in Thailand. Possible Olympic distance runner Amy Yoder is a local community hero. She has competed around the world, and she offered insight to the true Olympic spirit – different cultures gathering peacefully and mutual learning. Grace Housholder wrote four articles and took photos for the Kendallville News-Sun concerning our project. East Noble teachers Jane Bentz and Debra Hockley proofread much of our material, and Kendallville Central Social Studies teacher David Hockley provided sources and advice. Judy Wolf acted as our media consultant. Magazine write Richard Stolz pitched in with advice about our theme and topic. We attended a presentation at Indiana University Purdue University Fort Wayne by politician Henry Cisneros entitled, “America’s Role in the World: Globalization and the Clash of Cultures.” East Noble student Amir Izadine offered insight on religion, politics and culture in Chad.
5) Discoveries, Lessons and Surprises (Optional)
Our experiences were packed full of surprises, discoveries, and lessons. Our most tremendous discovery was the immense amount of work and dedication needed to complete this demanding task. None of us were prepared for the efforts we were called to put forth, but we lived up to the expectations and in many ways superceded what our educators and leaders anticipated from us. On the technology end we were thrilled to find that tools such as the smart board, which we used teach a 5th grade class at Rome City School, were an extraordinary help in maintaining attention and participation. We were extremely pleased at the amount of information the 5th graders could remember, recall, and apply after our presentation ended. We feared our issues were too complex for them, but students have a way impressing even their teachers. Our biggest surprise was the amount of community interest we encountered. We had a few anxieties about how to involve our local citizens, but once we had articles published in the local newspaper and performed a few presentations, we were requested to speak at a number of community clubs and groups to educate our community leaders about our project. Another discovery we made was that Earlham College was hosting a Model U.N. We were excited when Mr. Waterson, our instructor, informed us that he wanted us to attend, representing Serbia and Montenegro (the former Republic of Yugoslavia). Much to our nervousness many of the delegates present at Earlham attended private schools and were members of a Model U.N. team which had traveled to various competitions. You can only imagine our delight when we, as the only public school, were given “Most Favored Nation Status”. Overall we learned that a positive attitude, confidence, preparation and dedication are necessities to any successful diplomat.
View our CyberFair Project
(Project ID: 2217)