CyberFair Project ID: 5375

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International Schools CyberFair Project Narrative
Title: The Good Old Days Are Today !
Category: 5. Local Attractions (Natural and Man-Made)

School: Martel Elementary School
    Lewiston, M, USA

6 students, ages 8-10 worked together to complete this CyberFair project on March 19, 2008. They have participated in CyberFair in the following year(s): 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008

Classes and Teachers: Mrs. Darlene Letourneau

E-Mail contact:

Our School's Web Site:

Project Overview

1. Description of Our Community

Lewiston is the second largest city in Maine. It is located in central Maine on the banks of the Androscoggin River. In the early 1900's the city was a booming textile community. Today it is undergoing urban renewal and trying to regain a position of leadership and economic growth in the State of Maine. Lewiston is focusing on expanding its leadership role by inviting new businesses to locate in the central business district. L.L.Bean has a telephone catalog center that employs over 1200 customer representatives during the holiday season. Andover College has opened a campus in downtown Lewiston. The textile mills which once made Lewiston a booming community are being renovated for new businesses, training facilities, banking operations, college facilities, as well a variety of restaurants. Our community is growing in economic and educational opportunities. Our population is becoming more diverse with a large number of immigrants selecting to relocate on the in our community.

2. Summary of Our Project

Our project is all about how Lewiston as a community is remembered and what students would like share about their community today. During, social studies students discussed culture brought into the community by immigrants and their families customs. Students brainstormed the meaning of “It was the best of times and the worst of times”. One student mentioned that his grandfather always says “In the good old days….when school closed for a snow storm Bleacher Hill would be closed to traffic and we would all go sliding down the huge hill.” Students researched community leaders of the past and present. They looked at past achievements and present day goals. They looked at transportation, schools, and recreational items of the past and compared them with those items today. They also discussed future goals for our community. Students decided the best way to prepare for the future was to be active in the present. They want to empower themselves with the knowledge that what they do, does, and can make a difference in the community in the present and to continue in the future as adults

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:more than 6

E. Additional comments concerning your computer and/or Internet access (Optional):

Thank you to Joseph Julias, Technology Director, and Nate Jalbert who came to assist with computer glitches, software installations, printer woes, and fix any problems that we encountered with technology. Without these two dedicated men our project would have had several serious setbacks. Mr. Julias and Mr. Jalbert were in our classroom before school, during school, and after school quick to remedy software glitches and making error messages disappear.

4. Problems We Had To Overcome

Our worst barrier was our Maine winter. This year numerous snow storms caused school cancellations and as luck would have it every time a quest speaker was scheduled storms cancellation also cancelled our speaker. Three quests were scheduled to come speak to students and all three were cancelled due to inclement weather. Rescheduling was a nightmare and as a result none of the students were able to interview their speakers. Students’ trips to nursing homes were also prevented by weekend snow or ice storms. At present 12 school day cancellations has limited portions of our project. Then influenza caused the nursing homes to close wards to non-family members. Students tried to overcome the lost of speakers and visitations by replacing them with phone calls to older relatives and speaking with staff members at school. The community involvement portion of our project is weak as a result of speaker cancellations, weekend storms that prevent parents from taking students to various nursing homes, interviews, and taking photos of various areas of our community. While completing our project the i-pod were were using to record interviews 'died'. Students were only able to upload 2 of the 6 recorded interviews.

5. Our Project Sound Bite

“Wow, I didn’t know we once had an amusement park in Lewiston. I wish we still had a carrousel” “I wish they still closed off traffic on the big hills during snow days. I must have been fun sliding down Bleacher Hill. That hill is huge! I would like to snowboard down that hill.” “When my grandfather talks about when he was a kid, it sounds so cool.”

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

The State of Maine's Learning Results require that all-third grade students study their local community. The CyberFair project provided an interesting and motivating way to cover the existing curriculum requirements in Social Studies, English Language Arts, Visual and Performing Arts, as well as Science and Technology. The project extended well beyond the required curriculum standards including developing communication skills, organizing photos with text: editing: writing: designing: and publishing skills: computer skills: keyboarding: scanning with the use of i-books. These skills were necessary for students to create their web page. In fact it would be very lengthy to list all the specific content areas, standards, and performance indicators listed in the State of Maine Learning Results. In addition to all these state standards, Lewiston also has local assessment that must meet quarterly. The most exciting aspect of this project was how differentiated learning was. Students with low reading levels, speech problems, behavior issues, and students who have “an allergy to pencils” (avoid written task at any cost) began to work together to create meaningful scripts. They bonded together helping each other practice, understand ideas, and write “thick” questions for their scripts. Students had to read, listen to text via software, and become experts on the interview topic. The most exciting aspect of this project was that students practiced and mastered so many skills while enjoying themselves. The idea of restating in their own words was very difficult for these eight-and-nine year old students. For eight-and-nine year old students copying verbatim was writing their own work. This was a wonderful learning experience disguised as pure pleasure as it also brought students a new appreciation of their parents and grandparents childhood stories.

Project Elements

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

Getting students to begin the project was a difficult task. Staff began by retell stories of their own childhood growing up in Lewiston. This winter’s weather, the high snow banks which separate streets and sidewalks and retelling of “When I was a child we use to go to school walking on the top of the ‘mountains’. That was what we called the high snow banks that boarder streets and sidewalks.” Slowly students began retelling these stories at home and parents and grandparents told their stories. These family stories captured the interest of six students who did the bulk of this web project. Our school purchased “Clicker5” a talking word processing program. Students learned to scan photos, copy, paste, and listen to their information. Listening and discussing were not so painful, but writing was a very sore issue. Technology such as i-books and an ipod became great motivation. Finally, students were eager use the ipod to tape interviews. Once they listened themselves on the ipod they began to make changes, write better questions, practice speaking slower, clearer, and slowly they began to use Clicker5. We used every piece of technology that could entice and motivate students to want to learn.

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

Students attempted to visit local Franco-American Heritage Center, local nursing homes, and interview various citizens. All schedule visits were on Saturday and during vacations. As luck would have it, all were cancelled at one time or other due to snow storms and ice storms. All attempts to reschedule were also cancelled due to storms or speakers were not able to a convenient time. Therefore much information came from phone conversations. School staff volunteered to scribe phone conversations for students and other school personnel retold students’ stories of their childhood in Lewiston.

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

“The Good Old Days” was a theme that led students to spend time with their parents and grandparents looking over old photo albums and bonding. It may not have had the greater reach beyond family and school community that we had hoped to achieve, however it brought about a closer bond with elderly members of the family and community. Students were eager to share stories staff members had retold them and to listen to their family stories about grandparents’ youth and life struggles. It established a connection of how different life was for children in the 1940’s, ‘50’s, and 60’s and an appreciation of spending time talking with family members and elderly community members had not occurred with some of the children before this project. Parents and grandparents were eager to send in photos of themselves as children in various sport events. Students were impressed by their grandmothers being cheerleaders. Staff members have mentioned students sharing their grandparents childhood stories and asking staff about their childhood.

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

Every year parents, staff, students ask “What is our Big Project for the Year? How can I help?” Mrs. Baribault and Mrs. Ellis assisted students by sharing with them stories of their childhood. The tech support team made sure the internet connections always worked and spent many afternoons installing software in the i-books for students to use the Clicker5 software which opened up researching to students who could not easily read encyclopedias and intenet information. Thank you to all individuals who encouraged students and teacher to continue working on this project. Especially when storm after storm cancelled speaker’s interviews it was discouraging and we were about to quit because of various issues that arose during the course of the year.

5) Discoveries, Lessons and Surprises (Optional)

Students were so dedicated to giving up every early morning recess for this project. Even though we were not able to achieve any speaker visitations in or out of school because to the weather, students wanted to share what they had accomplished. Students had no control over school cancellations due to inclement weather. Parents also experiences weather woes and were not able to take photos, trips to elderly relatives, and try as we all did rescheduling lead to yet more cancellations due to even more storms. Our project as it is weaker than what we had hoped for nevertheless it was a great learning experience.


View our CyberFair Project (Project ID: 5375)

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