District: Foothills School Division #38
Classes participating: two 2/3 multiage classes of 56 students
The curriculum for grade 2/3 social studies in Alberta involves a study of a community, looking from the past to the present, examining the changes that took place in the past, finding out what is changing today and discussing what could possibly be changing in the future. One of the enduring understandings that we hoped would come out of this study was an understanding of the changes in the community of Okotoks that have taken place over time. Because there were two grades working on this project together, teamwork and communication were very important. The students were able to learn new computer skills and further develop the skill of revising and editing written work. Many times the students would go back to have another look at their writing to improve the language or increase the information. Researching and revising written work is a difficult skill for grade 2/3's. They used technology to enhance their work and as a result many of the requirements of the ICT Program of Studies were met during this project.
What information technology tools did you use to
create your website?
To make our web site the tools that we used were: Microsoft Word, our scanner, our digital camera, Fireworks, Dreamweaver and Composer. The use of Microsoft Word, the scanner and the digital camera were the easiest for us because we had used all of these tools before as we have them at our school. We used Microsoft Word the most as that is the tool that we use for writing. We would like to thank our student teachers Nicole Harsch and Krystal Abrahamowicz, and our ICT specialists Mrs. Martin and Mr. Gaskell who helped us get started and for their help in working on the website because we had never done a website before and we really needed their help.
How did you connect with your community?
We were able to go on field trips in our town to most of the Heritage houses visiting the Old Country Store, the Heritage House, the Ardiel House, the Morrison House and the Museum and talking to lots of people. One of our teachers lived by a sandstone quarry and so we spent the day learning about sandstone which is what most of our heritage homes are made out of. It was a lot of fun imagining what it was like to live in the past.
What has been the impact of the project on students
This hands on approach to history where the students actually visited and used their senses of touch, sight, sound and smell has given them a deeper understanding of the community where they live. They now have developed an opinion and they realize that their opinion counts because they are the present and also the future of the heritage homes. A development of the writing process was gained through their contact with the different people in the homes as together they listened and talked about the heritage houses. The enthusiasm of these people impacted their understanding of the past, present and future and when they returned to school writing was easier as they now had ownership for their writing. These houses belonged to them they were not just a picture in a book.
What has been the impact of the project on your
As the parents of the 2/3 students listened to the stories that their children shared, they became interested to learn more about the heritage homes of Okotoks. They were keen to discover what the kids were discovering. They wanted to learn about the past with their children and together as families they visited these homes. This web page will be shared with the museum in Okotoks so that the community will have the children's stories of the heritage homes and the past.
What were the challenges in doing this project?
One of the challenges in this project was time and resource management. We were working with 56 students and a lab that was constantly booked. Another challenge was deciding how two classes could do different parts of the project and still have the project come together as one. Communication was a challenge. Learning the software applications and learning how to do a web page was a challenge as this was our very first web page. Even though there were challenges, we learned so much and had fun.
What are your future website plans?
We hope that this web site will be used by the community of Okotoks and also by the other kids in our town who are in grade three studying community past, present and future. Because we are a mulitaged school and some of us will be in grade 3 next year with Mrs. Gerrard and Mrs. Flavelle, we might just decide to add to the web page. We are not sure. Right now we are just so proud that we did something new and challenging.
What would you do differently?
We were quite pleased with how this project worked out. There are not many parts of it that we would do differently. Maybe we would get going sooner and we could certainly book more computer time. Because the project was so big we might focus on only the past and the present next time.
What recommendations would you give other students and teachers wanting to run a project like this?
· Divide up the project so that it is manageable. Do not try to have the groups so small that you are working on many individual parts of the project
· Plan out the timeline so that you are not rushed at the end. There is always so much to do at the end and you will need time to fix things up.
· Use a story board to plan out the project so that everyone has an idea of what is happening. Constantly revisit this plan because it will change.
· Be prepared to change your original plan as the project unfolds in the direction that the kids want it to go.
· Find someone or use the "techie" knowledge of your students or some students in older grades. Just because you do not know how to do something with technology don't let this stop you. There is always someone who does know what to do.
· Make sure that you communicate with others and always get your own job done. Don't let others down.
· Ask for parent volunteers to come in and help out. There are many jobs for them to do.
· Be prepared to work in a team and co-operate with others.
· Have fun!
Comments from Students
What they learned about the past:
· "The past already happened, it was a moment ago"
· "The past will never happen again in the same way"
· "The past is like age you can 't be six again"
· "The past is evolving"
· "The past was more difficult yet easier"
· "We have to decide what present and what past we are talking about"
· "What is old?"
· "Is having more better?"
· "Doing this project was like a cork in water, every time I thought I had it figured out I would think of a new question"
· "Working with technology made it easy to change my mind about writing"
· "I liked having a digital picture of the house so that I could remember what it looked like"
· "I would like to live in the past"
Copyright © 2001 by P. Gerrard, L. Flavelle, Foothills School Division, K. Abrahamowicz, N. Harsch, and Galileo Educational Network Association