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For Teachers and Parents: the purpose of this project

For Teachers and Parents:
Narrative of this Project

Narrative

Animal Diaries (Project ID: 2344) 
http://www.tesan.vuurwerk.nl/diaries  
2: Community Groups and Special Populations 

200 + students, ages 5-18 (including other school participants) worked together to complete this CyberFair project on March 21, 2003. They have participated in CyberFair in the following year(s): 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, and now 2003 

Classes and Teachers: Joan Goble - teacher USA and Rene de Vries - teacher The Netherlands 

E-Mail contact: dgoble@psci.net  and r.de.vries@tip.nl  

School: Cannelton Elementary and Primary School De Wadden 

Our School's Web Sites: 
http://www.siec.k12.in.us/cannelton/elementary

http://www.wadden.vuurwerk.nl

Project Overview

1. Description of "Our Community" 

Actually, there are many communities represented...and this project is hosted by two communities -- Cannelton Elementary of Cannelton, Indiana (small school in a small river town) and De Wadden Primary School in Haarlem, The Netherlands (another small school in Haarlem which is a nice-sized city).Cannelton, Indiana, USA is a small rivertown of approximately 2000 people on the banks of the Ohio River and boasts many historical sites. Haarlem is the capital city of the province Noord Holland. Haarlem is about 15 miles away from Amsterdam, the capital city of our country The Netherlands. In Haarlem, about 140,000 people are living there. We have invited students from schools all over the world to participate in our project. These participants are from all over the world. You can view the participants list at: http://www.tesan.vuurwerk.nl/diaries/t9/participants.htm 


2. Summary of Our Project 

Our collaborative project is called Animal Diaries. It helps students all over the world make the reading and writing connection- allowing them to write and read about a topic they all love, animals! The purpose of this project is to give students all over the world a safe place on the web to publish stories about animals and their interaction with other living things. We feel Animal Diaries inspires and encourages authorship among students of all ages as well as a love of reading. Animal Diaries offers several interactive topics for students... such as animal diaries (humorous or serious animal adventures written by students from the animal's point of view), animal cartoons, animal illustrations or photos that students wish to share, travel buddy stories ("animals" who travel the world and have many adventures to tell), becoming a co-author by being a part of a progressive animal story which changes according to the school/ town/ or country that adds the next chapter, a chance to chat or email your favorite author of children's stories, and even a place to create animal greeting cards to send to friends. Our students have enjoyed collaborating on all aspects of the project. 


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: 4-6 

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 

One problem to overcome was the long distance and time zone differences between our two schools (Cannelton, Indiana USA and Haarlem, The Netherlands) while working on our project. This also was a problem we faced when we had our author chats. We decided then to schedule our chats after we sent out word to other participating schools about the upcoming author chat to see who was interested in taking part. Once we found out what schools/timezones were interested, then we scheduled accordingly (and made sure the chat was a good time for our participating author of course). Other problems we have faced included finding enough webspace for all of the drawings and photographs we have received from the many schools involved. Luckily for us Vuurwerk, our service provider from Holland, has agreed to grant us all of the webspace we need to continue our educational project. One other thing we had to consider was the languages of our participating schools. However, so far all of the stories and poems have been sent to us in English, and just a little bit of editing needed to be done. We feel that we want to keep the texts sent to us as original as possible so that the students' work is theirs, not our idea of what they wanted to say. So, other than a few misspelled words, we have not done any editing to the original texts. 


5. Our Project Sound Bite 

Our Cyberfair project, we feel, is perfect for this year's Cyberfair theme of Educate and Unite. Our participation in Cyberfair has given us the guidance and incentive to share with others our stories, poems, drawings and more. It is fun and highly educational to collaborate in this way! 


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

Animal Diaries supports many learning standards across the curriculum. Below we list these according to Indiana State Standards, but they are basically the same anywhere. Language Arts: 

Standard 1: Reading, Word Recognition, Fluency, and Vocabulary Development...Standard 2: Reading Comprehension...Standard 3: Literary Response and Analysis...Standard 4: Writing: The Writing Process – supports all aspects of the writing process ...Standard 5: Writing: Writing Applications...Standard 6: Writing: Written English Language Conventions...Standard 7: Listening and Speaking 

Social Studies: (travel buddy area of Animal Diaries) 

Standard 1: Students will describe how significant people, events, and developments have shaped their own community and region; compare their community to other communities and regions in other times and places, and use a variety of resources to gather information about the past....Standard 3: Students will begin to understand the distinctive physical and cultural features of their own community and explain the geographic relationships of their own community with the state, nation and world. Students explain regions – areas that have common characteristics...Standard 5: Students will explain how communities are made up of individuals and groups of people, explore local connections with communities in other places, examine the contributions of people from various cultures to the development of the community, and use a variety of resources to collect information about the culture of the community. 

Technology: Students use the technologies for collaboration and communication as well as productivity and research. Students learned problem-solving techniques as well. View our curriculum section of Animal Diaries at: http://www.tesan.vuurwerk.nl/diaries/t7/curriculum.htm 

Project Elements

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

Both of our schools (Cannelton Elementary and De Wadden Primary) used a variety of technologies in order to complete this project. Most of the following were from our schools themselves. These included: digital cameras, several Internet ready computers, scanners, email, chatroom, video conferencing tools, microphones, computer software such as Microsoft Image Composer and Microsoft Frontpage for the website and the images, libraries for background information. We also utilized regular mail for our travel buddy projects. The Internet ready computer allowed our students to interact and collaborate together without worrying about costs and waiting on reg. postal services for the bulk of this project. 


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

Our project has given our students, along with the students from participating schools, several opportunities to be ambassadors for their schools. Some of these include the travel buddy exchanges, the author chats, the progressive stories and of course the sharing of their stories, poems, and drawings that they made for the project. Animal Diaries is highly interactive which allows students from all over the world another chance to collaborate. The progressive story section is a prime example of collaboration. The author chats are another aspect which we feel has given students a great opportunity to represent their school as they asked the authors questions about writing which will help other students who read the chats be better writers as well. 

Animal Diaries has won several awards, including a Childnet International award (2001) - http://www.childnet-int.org/. Students and teachers from both host schools, Cannelton Elementary and Primary School De Wadden, were able to meet up in person to accept the award in April 2001 at Washington D.C. We were able to spread the word of our project to many other schools and organizations. You can view photos of this at: http://www.tesan.vuurwerk.nl/diaries/childnet/index.html. 

We have sent out newsletters several times each school year to our participants to keep them informed of author chats and other news we have to share about reading and writing. You can view the archived newsletters at: http://www.tesan.vuurwerk.nl/diaries/t7/newsletter.htm 

The main purpose of this project is to give students all over the world a safe place on the web to publish stories about animals and their interaction with other living things. We feel that we have accomplished this and will continue to do so, as we are planning on continuing our project through the next school year. 


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

Our project has enabled our students to reach a global audience with their writings, drawings, and more. When our site won the International award from ChildNet it put Cannelton, Indiana and Haarlem, The Netherlands on the world map! Many parents have voiced how proud they are of the accomplishments of our students and have said that they would like to see us continue with this project beyond the end of this school year. With the above mentioned examples of ambassadorship, our project has become so popular that we have needed to add more data traffic and cyberspace to our site. We are getting around 100 hits per day - which is in itself proof that our site has been seen by many people. We receive quite a few emails and messages on our guestbook of Animal Diaries from people who write to tell us how much they enjoyed our site...many of them are students who are inspired to go ahead and try writing stories or poems of their own...not only for a school project, but also on their own because they are inspired by the work these students have done. This has truly been a most rewarding experience! 


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

Our students' parents have shown great support! It is, after all, a great way for parents and students to work together. The students received help, guidance, and technical support from parents and other volunteers to help get their work published on their school sites. The success of this project has enabled the students to see first hand what collaboration and communication can achieve. We need to also mention the Global chats that we hosted here as well...because that again gave many a chance to help out in some way. Of course, the collaborative aspect of our project gives the students, parents, and teachers of many schools a chance to help each other on their ongoing stories. We get many ideas from them for more things to add to the project, including story board creations which can be made into cartoons or illustrations for stories to be passed from school to school. We receive messages too from our online community with suggestions and support as well. 


5) Discoveries, Lessons and Surprises (Optional) 

We have learned once again the wonderful positives of online collaboration. Our students have learned from the author chats that they too can write, and at any age. We have learned from the progressive stories that team work can produce wonderful, magical stories which are unique and exciting. We have learned to understand and appreciate diversity in our cultures through our stories and in particular the travel buddy activities. Animal Diaries offers students the chance to share their writings with others from all over the world, and this is a great incentive and motivator. So, once again we have learned that the Internet is a wonderful teaching tool!

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