Fourth-grade students from Lakeshore Elementary School in Greece, New York, developed a Web site based on a field trip to a local museum. Read how three teachers transformed a history and language arts lesson into an exciting technology project!
History can be lots of fun, especially when technology gets mixed in with a field trip and Web reporting. Just ask the fourth-grade students of Valerie Burke and Jean Connell at Lakeshore Elementary School in Greece, New York! The students created a Web site, The Greece Historical Society Museum Exhibits, based on digital pictures they took during and articles they wrote following their visit to a local museum.
"Boy, was it fun!" said Kevin, one of the students. "We got to learn about life's history and see how the people back then lived. We even saw some old fire trucks and the school they had. When the project was done, we saw it on the screen, and I thought how cool it was that we, fourth graders, had made a Web page!"
Holly, another fourth-grade student, also enjoyed the project. "It was fun to learn about the olden days," she said.
The project was the brainchild of the school district's technology integration teacher, Don Menges, who suggested students combine fourth-grade curriculum in history and language arts with Internet technology.
The Greece Historical Society also played an important role in the student project. The society's docents explained each exhibit to the students. A storyteller also provided details about what life was like in the town decades ago.
"It took the classroom teachers and myself to plan this project so that we hit as many New York state standards as possible," Menges told Education World. Connell said the project incorporated New York standards for grade 4 in English language arts and in social studies. But, Menges explained, "the kids had to understand the broad picture before we began. It was important that they understood their roles."
Teams of three students from each classroom were assigned to the museum's ten exhibits. One student took digital photographs of the exhibits, another was responsible for asking questions, and the third student took notes.
"The children tapped into being reporters, incorporating the five Ws with zest," said Connell. "Technology was a big motivator. Using the digital cameras was quite the thing for them and then working on the computer to compile their work and see their pictures were also important factors."
The project took at least ten hours of student time in addition to the time Menges took to meet with the students to help them develop their plan for the Web page, Connell told Education World. When the kids had finished their part, Menges constructed the Web page around the students' work.
The project involved the students in the following steps:
The difference with this project was that it was shared with the rest of the community on the district's Web site. So far, the response has been very positive. The students' work has received favorable comments from members of the Greece Historical Society and e-mail messages from visitors to the site, Menges said.
"In my opinion, there should be a mandatory technology tools course taught at the middle school level," Menges commented. "No students should enter high school without knowing how to use a computer as a tool." Menges, a former classroom teacher, sees himself as a facilitator who helps put together such projects. "There are dozens more projects waiting to happen," he said.