CyberFair Project ID: 3507

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International Schools CyberFair Project Narrative
Title: Stray and Unwanted Pets
Category: 3. Business and Community Organizations

School: Bancroft School
    Haddonfield, New Jersey, United States

10 students, ages 16 -18 worked together to complete this CyberFair project on March 18, 2005. They have participated in CyberFair in the following year(s): 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005

Classes and Teachers: Sherri Colan's Secondary Academics Venture class, and some students working with Learning Consultant S. Powell

E-Mail contact:

Our School's Web Site:

Project Overview

1. Description of Our Community

Our general community is Camden County, New Jersey. We are a private, all special education school serving students with multiple disabilities through both day and residential programs. Located in the town of Haddonfield, New Jersey, we are just a few miles east, across the Delaware River, from the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Our community includes the families and hometowns of our students, many of whom come from surrounding towns in Camden County.

This area of South Jersey is both residential and commercial. Geographically it is primarily flat, with small creeks and marshes feeding into the Delaware River.

2. Summary of Our Project

Our project concerns the issues and local resources related to stray and unwanted pets. Information was acquired from a variety of resources. We kicked off our research with separate presentations by a local veterinarian and an animal communicator. Both discussed responsible pet ownership, reasons for unwanted and stray pets, and resources. We read about local animal shelters on the Internet and made fieldtrips to two of them. We interviewed two people who had adopted animals from local shelters. We discovered a wealth of information from the State of New Jersey on the Internet, including content about rabies and rabies statistics, and reported animal shelter stats for the State and each county. We also shared photos of our own pets and discussed ways we care for them.

Before presentations, fieldtrips and interviews, students worked as a group to prepare questions to ask. Following activities, information was reviewed through group discussion. Students wrote or dictated their own thoughts and impressions. They also composed thank-you letters. Some students worked on drawings. One student constructed charts/graphs to illustrate statistical information. With guided direction from staff, students discussed findings and summarized main points they had learned. Two students researched and summarized specific assigned content. Students also provided content for three activity pages (wordsearch, vocab. matching, and quiz). One student assisted in the construction of these web pages.

All students participated in choosing colors and font elements for the web pages. Some helped develop and edit graphic images and photos. Students provided photos of their personal pets for scanning and inclusion on pages throughout the web site.

As pages were completed and uploaded, students reviewed and provided feedback. They also performed trial runs of the activity pages.

3. Our Computer and Internet Access

A. Percentage of students using the Internet at home:more than 50%

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:4-6

4. Problems We Had To Overcome

While using the digital camera to take photos of Dr. Bruce Weitzner and his dog, Duncan, one of the teachers accidentally changed a camera setting from still photos to video. This wasn’t discovered until a day later when the images were downloaded. We didn’t know how to get still shots off the video. Another staff recommended contacting one of our Technical Support Specialists, Greg Skoufalos, and he very graciously lifted several nice still shots off the video for us. Since students had limited access to a school scanner, staff scanned student drawings and photos at home.

Miss Sue had some problems uploading edited web pages, but resolved this over the phone with the host service (it was their error).

Due to school being cancelled because of snow, one of the people who had agreed to visit us for an interview was unable to be rescheduled. We overcame this by conducting our interview through email, and she sent in photos of her pet. Since our students have disabilities and display a wide range of skill levels (including communication, reading, attention span, memory) teaching staff reinforced basic concepts and information through guided group oral discussion and the use of pictures and examples. Language terms had to be simplified. To prepare for trips and interviews, staff assisted students in brainstorming questions to ask, and then wrote these on individual index cards for students to refer to. Some students participated independently in related writing activities, while others expressed their ideas through group or individual dictation.

5. Our Project Sound Bite

“I learned a lot from CyberFair about animals . . . why we talk about it cause other people around the world don’t want to take care (of) their pets sometime . . . but pets I have in my house I take care of my animals. I feed my pets because it is nice to do. I felt happy about this because I get to learn more about stray animals. It was fun to do.” – by Steve

“I think it is important to help stray animals . . . abandoned by their owners. It’s wrong to abandon a pet. You have to love it. The project means you must take care of animals, take them to the vet, and give them shots so they won’t get rabies.” – by Travis

“I am happy that we chose stray animals for our CyberFair project. I love animals, especially cats. I liked working on this project because I like to help animals.” - by Melissa

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

Our project addressed several of New Jersey's Core Curriculum Content Standards: Computer Information and Literacy (skills related to computer use, Internet, email), Career and Technical Education (vocational skills, critical thinking, decision-making); Visual and Performing Arts (use of arts elements and arts media to produce products; process of critique); Language Arts Literacy (reading, writing, speaking, and listening standards); Mathematics (data interpretation and comparison, graphs/charts); Social Studies (experiences in democratic process).

It is especially important for our students to have experiences generalizing skills in authentic, real-life situations. This project presented many opportunities for doing so. During the fieldtrips and presentations students had the chance to practice appropriate speech and language communication, social interaction and behaviors. Reviewing statistical information printouts gave practice with table/chart interpretation and numerical comparisons. Other skills addressed during the project included group collaboration and computer skills (keyboarding, Internet searches, printing, graphic software, Excel charts). Special vocabulary terms introduced and discussed during this project included: stray, shelter, spay, neuter, impound, redeem, adopt, and euthanize. Students also had the experience of sharing information and photos about their own pets with the group.

Use of the Internet to discover information and to display our findings is very effective for our students because it makes it real for them. Our students tend to be more motivated and sustain better attention when using the Internet instead of traditional textbooks.

Project Elements

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

This project made use of the following tools: PC computer, printer, scanner (done by staff at home), and cameras (traditional and digital). Software included: MSWord, MSExcel (used by a student to create charts), Adobe PhotoShop 5.5 (used by two students for graphic image prep and editing), and Adobe GoLive (used by Miss Sue for web page construction), and an online quiz-maker (available through DiscoverySchool).

Other tools included information Internet sites, speakers/presentations, field trips, interviews (some in person during trips, one through email, and one through written questions and returned written responses), and thank-you letters.

The information available on the Internet concerning New Jersey state and county rabies and animal shelter statistics was very valuable as this gave a clear picture of these issues over a period of time, and showed the trend toward continued overall improvement.

The speakers/presentations, field trips, interviews, were excellent as hands-on concrete experiential learning activities. Our students demonstrated their best understanding and retention of information from these sources.

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

Students had several opportunities to act as ambassadors and represent our school. They took turns introducing themselves and asking questions when they met with our two presenters (Dr. Weitzner and Rev. Dr. Severino) and also during fieldtrips to local animal shelters. They used email to interview one person who adopted a cat from a local shelter (Marilyn Weinstein), and traditional writing to interview another who had adopted a dog (Mrs. Egbert). Following each activity, students also wrote or dictated thank-you letters.

Students checked at home and brought in pictures of their own pets. At least one parent sent in a pet photo via email.

After most of the web pages had been completed and uploaded, students had the opportunity to share their project with family and friends. The web address was also advertised in our school’s Daily Bulletin so other school friends, classes and staff could enjoy viewing our project. We also sent links to the people who had provided much of the information (speakers, interviewees, and local animals shelter representatives).

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

Through our project, we have brought a greater sense of awareness of the issues of stray and unwanted pets to all who view our finished product. Our students have also had the opportunity to be recognized for their work by other students, teaching staff, families and friends. Some families have even sent links to relatives and friends who live at a distance. Our students take special pride in seeing their work on the Internet. They especially enjoyed personalizing the web pages through sharing photos and information about their own pets. As with previous CyberFair projects, our work presented opportunities for others to meet and interact with our students, and appreciate their interest in the world around them. Positive experiences like this can enhance acceptance of individuals with disabilities. Our project has served as a public relations opportunity within the community for our school.

We hope that all who see our project come away with a better understanding of the responsibilities of pet ownership and a desire to support local animal shelters.

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

Every contact we made within our community was positive. Dr. Bruce Weitzner, a local veterinarian, readily agreed to come and speak to us. He brought his Golden Retriever, Duncan, answered all our questions, and demonstrated how microchip identification works. Likewise, the Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Severino, animal communicator, also visited and spoke. Besides answering our questions, she told of several interesting cases she has worked on. Dr. Liz also enjoyed looking at photos of our pets and talking about them. The two local animal shelters were very receptive to our visiting. They even opened early for us to accommodate our school schedule. Both Paula Dean (AWA) and Jennifer Anton (WJAS) took time to tour us, answer our questions, and allow us to photograph. Tom Egbert, a special one-on-one teaching assistant, provided us with another interviewee (his mother). He took home our written questions, brought back his mom’s written responses, and shared a photo of the dog she adopted from a local animal shelter.

Learning Consultant Susan Powell worked with several students creating some of the computer graphics and rollover navigational elements. She constructed the web site pages using her home computer.

Greg Skoufalos, a Technical Support Specialist (MIS Department) at our school, helped lift still photos from video clips.

5) Discoveries, Lessons and Surprises (Optional)

Since we are all animal lovers, this topic was interesting and easy to sustain our attention. We were fortunate and honored that Dr. Liz was able to visit us, as her schedule is very busy and she is in demand. We greatly enjoyed meeting Dr. Bruce and his wonderful dog, Duncan.

The accidental discovery of available rabies and shelter statistics on the state’s web site was fortunate, and provided us with some hard facts. They also had some wonderful content about the history of rabies.

We were surprised to see animals other than cats and dogs at the West Jersey Animal Shelter (the peacock was the biggest surprise, and we were lucky he spread his tail and posed for us).

We also learned about the variety of jobs at local animal shelters, both volunteer and paid positions. These may even be some future vocational sites for students.


View our CyberFair Project (Project ID: 3507)

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