School-based Web sites
What do Net-based lessons look like?
The Net in action
The following videos exemplify some of the benefits of using the Internet in the classroom. As you view these clips, consider how you might be able to conduct the lessons without the Net and then listen for where the increased communication, availability of resources, and dynamic nature of the Net and Web help to improve the lesson.
At PolyPrep Country Day School in Brooklyn, technology coordinator Al Doyle and students utilize an amusing and educational site illustrating the principles of buoyancy.
Conducting buoyancy experiments in class is fairly simple. Teachers have been sinking milk cartons with marbles for years. But one of the difficult parts about teaching the principles of buoyancy is that it can be difficult to get real data without making the experiment too complicated for the students. An online simulation lets students conduct an experiment and get real data to see the relationship between the weight in the tub and the buoyancy force. This simulation in conjunction with hands-on experimentation makes for a powerful lesson.
. Communication and Collaboration:
A member of the Computer Squad at Brooklyn's P.S. 200 teaches younger children how to use the Net.
These fifth-grade students are working in collaboration with third-graders to improve their understanding of the environment. Older students helping younger students with projects is an excellent use of collaboration. It can be a source of self-esteem for the older students and helps both groups with communications skills. Introducing the Net as a resource for this collaboration helps the students develop an archive of the problems the third-graders are working on, and makes it possible for the third-graders to work with Web resources, even when the fifth-graders are not in the class with them.
. Collaboration with Content Experts
Teacher Jessica Morton of Mendocino Grammar School in Mendocino, CA, discusses how e-mails from bird experts across the U.S. helped bring the subject to life for her first- and second-graders.
This is an excellent example of extending the resources available to you and your students by using the Web. Students could read books about birds, they could watch birds in their neighborhoods, and you could even have a guest speaker. But adding bird experts via e-mail brings new knowledge to the teacher, and a new experience to the students. These experts can add a level of interest for the students as the latter meet new people in new places and learn about how enthusiasm for a particular subject can lead to in-depth knowledge and a variety of career choices.
. Research with Real Data:
Joan Carlson, another teacher at Mendocino Middle School, discusses how using the Web allowed her students to understand the effects of population changes by using real data and online statistical tools to project the effects of variations in birth and death rates.
Population data is readily available, and it is not difficult to use it in your classroom without technology. As the teacher notes in the clip, the information is available in atlases. However, the addition of Net-based resources provides students with access to very up-to-date data, and with the simulation,they have the ability to manipulate and challenge that data.
The videos below show how the school is converting from inefficient and dirty coal heat to natural gas. In one of the videos, a student discusses the process of using the camera.
The enthusiasm for learning increases when students produce a product that will be published on the Internet. The student with the camera is clearly fully engaged. Learning to use the camera is another benefit of this aspect of Internet use, and it's a skill that could lead to future career possibilities and ideas.
At P.S. 300 in Brooklyn, science teacher Janet Torkel's third-graders learn about conservation of matter and energy -- and use digital cameras to create images for the Internet of how their school is heated using coal.
Students at P.S. 200 in New York City become active learners. Expanding upon a recent unit on environmental pollution and coal furnaces, they provide visitors with information via their Web project.
School-based Web sites
There is a great deal of information that schools need or may want to provide for parents, teachers, students, and the community the school is located in. Some examples are calendars of school events and notices of upcoming meetings or elections, newsletters, publications by teachers, staff credentials, and more. The Net offers a dynamic and effective way to distribute information to all the members of the community who have online access. (A Web page should not be the only way the school distributes information, however, since not everyone has Web access.) In addition to distributing school information, school Web pages give students an opportunity to represent their school, express their opinions, and exhibit their artwork and writing.
Some examples of school Web pages are:
Mt. Edgecumbe High School, Sitka, Alaska
The Mt. Edgecumbe Web site is up-to-date and provides a broad range of resources for students, teachers, and parents. The site is designed to keep the community involved in the school's practice. This can be seen in the student-portfolio work and the schools' use of Alaska State standards. Students also play an active role in the site, publishing such projects as "Sitka's Military History" and the student newspaper, "The Channel Light."
Wilburn Elementary School, Wake County, Raleigh, North Carolina
Wilburn Elementary School's Web site provides resources for parents, teachers, and students alike. The site provides information about practical school functions such as meetings and school lunches. In addition to the practical administrative uses of the Web, the school has also taken advantage of the educational potential of the Web by participating in a number of Web projects. You may want to look at the First-Grade Tooth Tally Project, where students are learning math by gathering data on how many first-graders loose teeth.
The mission of MidLink Magazine is to highlight exemplary work from the most creative classrooms around the globe. It is a non-profit initiative supported by North Carolina State University, the University of Central Florida, and a company called SAS inSchool. Any school, teacher, or student is invited to participate. (See submission guidelines on the site.)
Since the Net offers a great increase in capacity for communication and collaboration, it creates the potential for very interactive and collaborative projects among students, schools, and teachers. The following are some samples of collaborative projects that are available on the Web:
The Odyssey: World Trek for Service and Education
The mission of this Internet-based project is to promote global awareness and to create positive change. The Odyssey uses the Internet to bring in 1300 classes from 80 countries to join a team of five educators on a two-year world trek.
The Jason Project
Started by Dr. Robert Ballard, a world-famous explorer and oceanographer, the Jason Project brings the thrill of discovery learning in science and technology, using the Internet as a powerful tool of learning for teachers and students.