Effective Projects Case Study
Middle School Community
Connections through Spatial Technologies at Alton School District
is a story about a project that started 1/1/2007.
For more information, please contact: Pamela McLeod
The focus of this project was to implement Geographic
Information Systems (GIS), including GPS and internet mapping, into the K-8
curriculum at Alton Central School, as a means to enhance our ICT literacy
and to integrate technology into our existing curriculum through an engaging,
visual medium. Goal 1 was to increase
teachers' understanding of technology;
Goal 2 was to increase integrated technology projects capable of
promoting higher-order thinking; Goal
3 was to complete a Community Atlas website.
Funding: This project was supported by $10,000 from NCLB
Title II-D (Educational Technology) and $1,000 in local funds. The project illustrates how federal
funding supports "Professional development to
all staff - Supporting ongoing, sustained, intensive, high-quality
professional development for all staff focused on integration of technology
into curriculum and instruction." The project addressed the following
grades and content areas:
We are a PreK-8 school in a small rural town
in New Hampshire. Alton is a lakefront community with a
strong seasonable population, but also the 3rd largest geographic area among
NH towns. Our environment and culture are
strongly tied to Lake Winnipesaukee, Mount Major, and other lakes, rivers,
streams, wetlands, and forested areas.
Our school is a close-knit PreK-8 community school with approximately
600 students; we were left a number of technology resources when the High
School moved into its own district a few years ago. While we have some limitations with an
aging building and technology-resistant staff, we have been relatively
progressive in the area of computer technology during the past 4 years, and
our technology vision is supported by our community at large. This project
was developed to help students use technology to better understand their
natural environment, while improving their spatial, technology, science, and
The plot: There weren't a lot of challenges here - simply
getting things scheduled was difficult, but workable. Some teachers were resistant to
accomodating planning for this project in their schedules. The greatest challenge of this project was finding
the classroom time for the required field trips and exercises, as well as
motivating teachers to overcome their own technology limitations in order to
participate. While a significant
number of teachers (12) participated in GPS training, and a few (2)
participated in GIS training, training will need to continue before the
teachers are comfortable using these technologies for teaching. To address this, we are working with the
Town to offer combined GIS/GPS training sessions for Town and School
personnel using local funds. We cancelled
Spring field trips because of WNV/EEE concerns, and postponed the Fall field
testing until after significant frosts had occurred. As such, we ended up doing our field work
well into November, when it was quite chilly.
The students did fine, and their friendly Tech Director brought them
all hot chocolate in the middle of the day.
We also had a change in teaching staff during the middle of the
project, as our computer teacher moved out of state during the summer. This made it nearly impossible to finish
the website version of the project.
Despite the challenges, we have succeeded in implementing a great
field data collection unit into our 7th Grade Lake Ecology curriculum in our
Middle School science classes.
The teachers: 4
teachers were directly involved. We had 4
teachers directly involved in this project:
1. Computer Teacher - who
unfortunately, moved out of state during the summer. His role was to help the students create
the website; however, his replacement was so overloaded with new teaching
responsibilities this fall that we could not assign this project to her. She did, however, participate in GIS and
GPS training. 2. Middle School Science Teacher - our Science
teacher was the backbone of this project, helping to set up field schedules,
choosing field test equipment, and organizing students for field work. 3. Middle
School Social Studies Teacher - our SS teacher worked with her classes to
write up descriptions of town history and culture for the website. 4. Enrichment
Teacher - our new G&T/Enrichment teacher came on board this fall, and was
trained in GIS and GPS. While this did
not assist with the project, he will be working with these technologies next
year as part of his curriculum.
students: During the Spring
Semester of 2006-07, Grade 8 Social Studies students researched aspect of
their town's history and culture for inclusion on the website. This aspect of the project allowed students
to connect to their community.
Approximately 17 responsible 7th grade students, and three 8th grade
students were selected to participate in this fall's field work. For the Grade 8 students, the field trip
was a reward for being responsible citizens in a particular computer class. The Grade 7 students studied Lake Ecology
first-hand and really enjoyed kick-starting what we hope to be an annual data
collection event. This was
project-based learning at its finest.
Additionally, every Grade 7/8 student at our school is positively
impacted by the addition of a SMARTboard to our Middle School Science
classroom. Students enjoy the
opportunities for collaboration and visual learning that the SMARTboard
Describe your data collection efforts . LoTi
Scores - compare Spring 2007 & 2008 LoTi scores for involved
teachers. .Measure curriculum
integration: our goal was to see GIS
Technology integrated into the curricula of at least "2 teachers and 1 Special"
in our Middle School. .Student
participation * Student surveys
The difference: It is
very difficult to attempt to measure testing achievement gains over the
course of just one year based on a project such as this. However, evaluating student impact over the
course of several years will be desirable as we move into the future. .LoTi Scores (Teachers): teachers have not yet taken the Spring 2008
LoTi assessment. Additionally, 3 of
the involved teachers only participated for half of the calendar year due to
staffing changes. .GIS
integration: GIS/GPS was used in our
Middle School Science and Social Studies classes successfully; to a much lesser extent, GIS was used with
our Computer special for 06-07 Grade 8 students. .SMARTboard integration: a SMARTboard is now being used almost daily
in our middle school science classroom as a direct result of this
project. Our students find this
technology very engaging.
conditions: This project has great
community connections, is project-oriented and hands-on, and brings the
classroom to the shores of Lake
Winnipesaukee and other bodies of water. We also hope to use this year's sample data
as the baseline for a longitudinal study, and we feel this will be a LASTING
project in our curriculum.
for the future: We need to
provide even more training to teachers to bring GPS and GIS into the regular
curriculum. Although these
technologies are exciting to teachers, they are still very overwhelming.
It is very difficult to attempt to measure
testing achievement gains over the course of just one year based on a project
such as this. However, evaluating
student impact over the course of several years will be desirable as we move
into the future.
Recommendations: Spend approximately a year training key teachers
prior to implementing GIS and GPS technologies. Doing the project and the training in the
same year was overly ambitious.
our story: This project is shown on our
website. We have used this as a
springboard for starting discussions with our Town Government about the use of
spatial technologies and carrying on collaborative training. Although we are not yet finished with the
website portion of the project, we feel it will be a great resource for our
community when it is completed.
to share: N/A