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III. ACTION PLAN:    A. Technology Access    B. ICT Literacy    C. Professional Development    D. Community Involvement     [Data]

ICT Literacy Toolkit
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Effective Projects Case Study


Middle School Community Connections through Spatial Technologies at Alton School District


This is a story about a project that started 1/1/2007.

For more information, please contact: Pamela McLeod at


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: 

   Gr6-8        Science  SocSt    ICT


The Setting: 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 math skills.


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.


The 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 provides.


The data: 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.


Essential 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.


Changes 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.


Telling 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.


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