CyberFair Project ID: 5172

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International Schools CyberFair Project Narrative
Title: Everyone Has a Story . . .
Category: 2. Community Groups and Special Populations

School: The Bancroft School
    Haddonfield, New Jersey, USA

12 students, ages 13 - 18 worked together to complete this CyberFair project on March 12, 2008. They have participated in CyberFair in the following year(s): 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002

Classes and Teachers: Sherri Colan's Secondary Academics morning class, 4 students working with Learning Consultant S. Powell, and 1 student working with Learning Consultant. S. K. Mote

E-Mail contact:

Our School's Web Site:

Project Overview

1. Description of Our Community

Our community consists of Camden County, and the neighboring and towns and counties of southern New Jersey. It is a combination of suburban, rural, and natural environments. Our school is located in the town of Haddonfield, which dates back to colonial times. Haddonfield is in Camden County, and near the City of Camden. We are a few miles east of the City of Philadelphia (aka The City of Brotherly Love), Pennsylvania. We are about an hour away from the Atlantic Ocean. Geographically, our area is primarily flat, with small creeks and marshes feeding into the Delaware River.

We are a private school exclusively serving students with multiple disabilities through both day and residential programs. Many of our students come from nearby towns.

2. Summary of Our Project

Our project is about learning, sharing, and celebrating our own stories and diversity. Our students, as well as our community and our nation, represent a rich mix of ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Some of our activities for our project included: interviewing family to discover how each students' first name was selected; researching the meanings of individual names; creation of autobiographical poetry; sharing stories of family inheritance; taking a field trip to a special exhibit about Identity at the Franklin Institute; learning about the importance of knowing your family health history; developing a sample family health history tree and chart; interviewing a person who does genealogy; researching about the US Census; examining some local census facts related to ethnic groups; discussing general areas of diversity; sharing personal experiences based upon students' special area of diversity (disabilities); discussion of key vocabulary terms; and creation of an online quiz/test about our project.

Our emphasis was on learning more about ourselves, as well as sharing and accepting the unique stories of each other. It was a little challenging to share parts of our personal stories over the Internet, and, at the same time, honor protection of individual confidentiality. Per our school's confidentiality practice, and after acquiring written parental permission, only students' first names were used within the project web site. Also per our school practice, photos do not show any student faces.

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:more than 6

4. Problems We Had To Overcome

Our biggest problem was time! Although we had scheduled an hour each week to work exclusively on our project, we missed numerous sessions due to holidays, snow days, and other events. The school and class schedules are busy, and it was hectic getting some parts of the project completed. There were other aspects related to our topic that we had hoped to cover, but we had to cut back to keep to the time limits.

We had a little difficulty finding someone to interview who had experience in genealogy. One of the people we contacted would not agree to answer all our questions or share a photo of themselves. But then we found someone else, and we completed an interview through email.

Because of the wide range of academic abilities of the CyberFair team students, the majority of the information covered was accomplished through group activities and group discussion. Students who were unable to independently write contributed their thoughts through dictation. At times, students needed verbal prompts, verbal modeling, or a choice of possible options to initiate comments.

As in past projects, our web pages are deliberately made to be simple and uncluttered so disabled students in our school can more easily and independently view the project.

5. Our Project Sound Bite

'As much as I am going to miss it, I really enjoyed it (CyberFair). 'Everybody has a story' pretty much sounds appropriate for me because of the fact that me and some other students are graduating.' - by Kyle 'I think that it was nice, and fun, especially when we went to the Franklin Institute.' - by Niesha 'I had two favorite things at the Franklin Institute Identity (exhibit). One is the baby machine game, and the other is the color circles.' - by David

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

Our project addressed the following New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards: Computer Information and Literacy (skills related to computer use, Internet, email); Technological Literacy (computer and information literacy); Visual and Performing Arts (use of arts elements and arts media to produce products; process of critique); and Language Arts Literacy (reading, writing, speaking, and listening standards). Our school program emphasizes providing opportunities for students to generalize skills through authentic, real-life tasks and community-based instruction. This project gave students a chance to apply academic and real-life skills through activities such as taking a field trip to the Franklin Institute, conducting in-person and email interviews, and sharing findings and personal experiences with each other. Through group activities and discussion, students worked on social and communication skills too. Use of the Internet helps make learning real for our students, and they especially enjoy having their actual work available online to view and share with others.

Project Elements

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

During our project, we used the following tools: PC computer, Internet, email, printer, digital camera, software (MSWord, Adobe PhotoShop, Adobe GoLive), and some online web sites (some of these included Class Marker to make an online quiz/test, Son of Citation to help with our bibliography, Word Central to look up definitions, etc.).

Other 'tools' included information web sites, an email interview with someone who has genealogy experience, interviews with family members, and a field trip to the Franklin Institute. The trip was probably the most favorite activity among the students, but the interviews with family members was probably the most valuable (both for our project, and just opening discussion between students and family members).

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

Students had a variety of opportunities to act as ambassadors representing our school, including interviewing immediate and extended family, interviewing Jeff Saler about his work with genealogy, and visiting the Franklin Institute to see an exhibit on Identify. Students also wrote thank-you letters to Jeff Saler for agreeing to do an interview.

Students also had the chance to share and discuss their project with school peers, family and friends as the web pages were completed and uploaded. We also sent links to all our resource people. We've received some positive feedback already.

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

Students learned new information about themselves and their families, so there has already been a personal impact. It was an emotional discussion when students shared some of their experiences about being disabled. Several people (family and education staff) were surprised to find out about the free online resources available to construct a family health history tree and chart.

We hope that when people see our project, they think about their own personal stories, get inspired to learn more about their family, use information about their family health history to stay healthy, and show more respect and acceptance for the stories of other people.

As with past CyberFair projects, this one also gave some people in the general community the chance to meet and interact with our students, all of whom have disabilities. This is an area of diversity. As our students' personal stories reveal, our community needs to continue to learn to accept people with disabilities. Although our students have special needs, they share concerns and interests in the world like everyone else. We hope our project makes a positive impact in this regard.

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

The staff at the Franklin Institute were very accommodating during our field trip there. They reserved a special parking space for our van, and were helpful with any questions we had.

Most of our students had positive experiences interviewing family members and getting information to share about themselves. Many contributed recipes and photos.

Jeff Saler ws very agreeable to conduct an email interview about his experiences with genealogy. He also sent us a photo of himself, and several old photos of distant family members for us to use on our web pages.

Learning Consultant Susan Powell worked with four students preparing most of the photos for our web pages, as well as the title banner and rollover navigational elements. She constructed the web site pages using her home computer. Learning Consultant Sister Krista Mote worked with one student, involving him in some aspects of the project.

Greg Skoufalos, a Technical Support Specialist in our MIS Department, converted an MS Word document with a sample Family Health History tree ad chart into a PDF file.

5) Discoveries, Lessons and Surprises (Optional)

Something totally new we all learned about was the information available through the US Surgeon General about family health history, how important it is to know this history and how easily it is to make your own tree and chart for free using this online resource.

Some students also learned new information about themselves, immediate family, and distant relatives.


View our CyberFair Project (Project ID: 5172)

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