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Kids Snap Communities in Internet Project


Curriculum Center

For the Internet project Communities Around the World, kindergarten and first grade students from four states took pictures in their hometowns, created PowerPoint presentations about their communities, and used e-mail to share those presentations with one another. Included: How the Communities Around the World project worked.



Are you looking for an activity that will teach your students about their community -- and about other communities across the country? An Internet project developed by a Bronx (New York) technology teacher allowed students in four states to learn more about their own hometowns and to share what they learned with one another.

In the project Communities Around the World, students in four kindergartens and one first grade took pictures of places of interest in their individual communities. Each class then selected the most representative photographs, wrote descriptions to accompany them, and incorporated both photos and text into a PowerPoint slide show. Finally, a copy of each slide show was e-mailed to the other participating schools.


The collaborative project arose from discussions between Lori Whitman, a technology teacher in the Bronx, and her daughter's kindergarten teacher at Virginia Road School, Joan Pignataro-Mosello. Pignataro-Mosello's class was working on a unit about places in the community and people who help in the community. "I thought it would be a great idea to combine one of my schools with this school from the suburbs," Whitman said. Later, Whitman and Pignataro-Mosello decided to take the project a step further. They posted a notice about the project to an education listserv and invited other teachers to join.

The five schools that were eventually involved are P.S. 19 in the Bronx, New York; Virginia Road School in Valhalla, New York; Osage Hills School in Bartlesville, Oklahoma; St. Anastasia School in Hutchinson, Minnesota; and Hurlbutt Elementary School in Weston, Connecticut.


The project tied in well with classroom units about communities, Whitman told Education World. Students learned about their own communities and they learned about the communities of the other participating students.

Whitman's students took a walking tour of their community. "They learned where buildings such as the library, post office, and police station are located and they learned how each serves the community," Whitman said. "They also learned that, even though other communities have the same services, they don't all look the same. So many children, at least in the Bronx, don't have a clue about what exists beyond the streets they walk on," Whitman noted.

At St. Anastasia School, Kathleen Zimmerman's kindergarten students rode a public bus around town, while students took pictures with a digital camera. The students were then asked to gather information about the sites they'd photographed; they had to decide what resources to use to research the history of those landmarks. The students used maps and brochures and called community members and businesses for information.

"The learning that went on as they researched was unbelievable, and the community members were so cooperative," Zimmerman said.

For Pignataro-Mosello's class, the project was a good way to expand on lessons about careers and communities, one of the units in the kindergarten curriculum. "The best part of this experience was when we compared our community to [communities in] the slide shows the other schools created and discussed the differences and similarities," Pignataro-Mosello said.


Communities Around the World
In this project, designed by Hazel Joab, vice-principal and Web editor at Marshall Elementary School in Lewisburg, Tennessee, students study their local community and contrast and compare it to communities of other project participants.