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Track the Change of Seasons -- On the Internet!

Signs of Autumn/Signs of Spring, a K-6 global Internet project, offers teachers and students a springboard for learning about the changing seasons around the world.

Why do seasons change? Why are the changes different in different parts of a hemisphere? Why do the northern and southern hemispheres have opposite seasons? Why do places farther from the equator have greater seasonal changes than places close to the equator?

Signs of Autumn, a global project on the Internet, enables students to grasp the answers to questions about seasonal changes. But, best of all, it allows students to connect through the Internet with other classrooms from around the world!

The official title for this twice-a-year project is Signs of Autumn/Signs of Spring because, of course, while it might be autumn in the northern hemisphere our neighbors south of the equator are looking forward to the start of spring!


Signs of Autumn is co-authored by Nancy Schubert, the project coordinator of NickNacks Telecollaborate, and Angie Bader of Tri-Valley Central Schools in Grahamsville, New York.

"Signs of Autumn was designed for both experienced Internet users and novices from the elementary grades," says Schubert. "When our project was first presented in 1996, the number of online collaborations was small."

"Signs provided both a learning tool for classes and a training tool for educators," Schubert adds. "The project offered a chance to explore different mediums of exchanging materials, offering extensive online technical support for participants."

The "Signs" project is offered twice a year, in the spring and the fall. Each session involves approximately 40 to 50 classes from around the world.


Veli-Matti Metso, a teacher at Tommola School in Heinola, Finland, has enrolled classes to participate in Signs of Autumn/Signs of Spring. Initially, he decided his classes should do the project because the students were learning English as a second language, and he felt this kind of experience would allow them to have "real communication" in English.

From taking part in the project, Metso says, his students "learned lots of new words in English, to send e-mail, [and] something about foreign cultures." His students most enjoyed seeing "their own work on the Internet."


In autumn of 1997 Amy Scott's second-grade class at Blacklick Elementary School in Gahanna, Ohio, participated in Signs of Autumn/Signs of Spring. Here is a sampling from one of their weekly observations:

"PLANTS: The leaves are changing colors here. They are pretty shades of red, yellow, and orange (and some brown). Some are falling off the trees, but more are still on the trees. Some of the plants around are dying and creating seeds. There are a lot of apples on the apple trees around here.

ANIMALS: We have seen large groups of birds flying around, mostly crows. There are still insects around, especially caterpillars. Many of them are making their cocoons.

WEATHER: This week has been very hot. It is supposed to get up to 80 degrees or higher! This is not like autumn at all around here...."


Looking for ways to extend this Internet project? To make it an even more valuable experience for your students? Signs of Autumn/Spring offers a variety of activities for extending the project. Among the activities are simple ones focused on teaching geography skills and the science of the seasons. The project can also serve as a jumping off point for learning about cultures around the world -- ideas and related Web sites included! Or teachers might involve their students in charting and graphing temperatures and conditions in their neighborhood or somewhere else in the world. Or use Signs of Autumn/Spring activities to teach about migration:

Find out which animals in your area migrate in the spring and fall. Record when they leave and watch for these animals to arrive in your area again. Make a chart of when the animals leave/arrive.



  • Global Thinking Project A "hands across the globe" education project providing a virtual environment for students and teachers to participate in environmental study with others around the world. Students learn to monitor air, water, soil and solid waste, and use the GTP-Website to discuss and compare their data.
  • SchoolWorld Internet Education This global Internet classroom for students and teachers in grades K-12 presents a variety of programs and projects in which students and teachers interact with other schools from around the world.
  • Intercultural E-Mail Classroom Connections Mailing lists (provided by St. Olaf College) that help teachers and classes link with others around the world for e-mail classroom pen-pal and project exchanges.

Article by Sharon Cromwell
Education World®
Copyright © 2001 Education World


Updated 10/5/2001