The following is a copy of the process document submitted to Cambridge College:
I. THE CLIENT
A. Name of Organization or Client.
Lisa Kovacs and Lucas Schneider are my sponsors.
As these are individuals, not an organization, the rest of question 1 is not applicable to my Capstone project.
B. Does the Organization Have a Technology Plan in place?
C. What Audience Does Your Organization Serve?
D. What Are the Particular Strengths of This Organization in Terms of Your Project?
II. THE PROJECT
A. Project Summary
My project consists of three Algebra lessons. The first lesson is on graphing equations, the second is on graphing inequalities, and the third lesson is on linear programming. Each lesson is presented with a Flash tutorial and includes two worksheets and a homework page. There is also a page that reviews the three lessons and a quiz covering the material.
B. What Will the User do With the Resource?
This resource was created for students that are absent from class for one or more days so they may keep up with the lessons. This site also helps the teacher keep a current grade on absent students. This is done by having the homework and quiz answers sent to them.
Students may access this site from home or from a school computer in an alternative classroom setting.
C. What Were Your Goals? Describe Any Goals Your Organization May Have Had.
I wanted to create a website that the students would be able to go to outside of the classroom (even at home) to get the dayís lessons. Students would be able to get the classroom and homework assignments online as well as a tutorial of the day's lesson. Students will be able to submit their classwork, homework and exams online through this site. Students will be able to get extra help, and help each other through a discussion board that I set up.
D. What Will Be the Long Term Impact or How Will You or the Organization Measure Success?
I would expect a measure of success of this site will be higher grades among these students, as well as higher MCAS and SAT scores. Another measure of success will be the ability for teachers to keep current grades on absent students via on-line submission of homework and quizzes.
Now That Your Project is Complete, What do You Think is the Likelihood of Success?
I believe this site will be very successful, as long as the site is supported and kept up to date. The students will need to be taught how to use this site and will need to be shown the usefulness of it so they will want to use it.
E. What is The Rationale For This Project? What are the reasons why this project
or problem needs solving? Describe the problem in as much detail as you can,
describing how the problem is currently measured, quantitatively or in qualitative
terms. How do you expect to measure the success of your solution to the problem?
What unique aspects of networks and the Web are you leveraging to address this
problem? Why is a network/the Web the right way to solve this problem?
(Include background research in this section along with a link to a Bibliography supporting your Rationale)
Many Algebra students at Natick High School are not able to be in the classroom for lessons during the school year. There are two major reasons for this: One reason is that they are absent for long periods of time due to illness or suspensions. The second reason is that they are following the nontraditional programs, which are available in this school. These programs include Northstar, a program where students attend school in a group environment outside of the traditional classroom and may be enrolled in one or more regular classes. Another program is Omega which is a work study program where students attend Northstar classes from 2-5 p.m. and are in the public workforce for the rest of the day. The other alternative program is Alpha in which students work in the morning and attend Northstar classes in the afternoon.
This creates a need for an alternative way to present the material to students, and to be able to keep their grade up-to-date.
III. Project Development And Implementation (include timelines and milestones here)
A. Time lines and Milestones
For the weekly log please click here.
B. What Were Your Key Responsibilities as Developer of This Project?
As developer of this project I was responsible for all design and construction of the site. I will be central in implementing the site and training students and teachers to use the project.
C. Are There Any Components of This Project That Were Developed by Another Party?
The only part of my project not created by myself are the sites that I linked to for students to get extra help.
E. In Addition to Your Client Organization, Were Students or Colleagues Involved in The Development and Implementation of This Project?
I had some of my students critique the site and try it on different computers to make sure that it worked.
F. When do you expect your project to be fully implemented? How will you ensure that it continues to be an actively used, up-to-date resource for your Client or Audience? What plans do you have to expand, improve or transform your project over time?
Focus and Clarity: As I implement the project I will need to "sell it" to my students. They must be made to understand that the site was made with them in mind, to make their lives easier so they can keep up if they are absent from class for one or more days.
Scope and Complexity: I must keep focused on maintaining my site and keep it constantly updated. If the amount of work were too much then it would easily slip away and become obsolete and useless. To avoid this I have considered a combination of two things to simplify the daily updates of my site. First I will have all of the pages set up as templates so they will be easy to fill out. Secondly I will consider having students update the site, possibly as an ongoing project or for extra credit.
Desirability: I will have to "sell" my site to the students, but I donít think it will be very hard. I believe that I have hit upon a common problem in schools today. Many students are finding themselves constantly behind because they miss class for some reason. This site will empower them to be able to keep up, and gives the teacher an ongoing grade. Neither the student nor the teacher needs to worry about students catching up when they get back.
Feasibility: As I have created my Capstone I have found it easier as the lessons are created. The first lesson took quite a while to make because I had to design it from scratch. As I went on though, the templates were done and all I had to do was to put in the new information. Much like mass-production, the more lessons I create, the easier it will be.
A. What do You Feel Are The Strengths of Your Project in its current state?
My project has the capacity to solve an ongoing problem of student attrition caused by excessive absences. As students fall behind because they are not in class they find it very hard to catch up and many times have to retake the class. When this repeats many of the students give up and just drop out of school altogether. This site gives the students another option, they can keep up with the lessons and teachers can keep up with their grade.
B. What do you Feel are the Weaknesses of The Project as it Stands?
The site will only work if the students believe it is worthwhile. The site also needs to be kept up-to-date by entering lessons as they are developed.
C. What can you point to in your coursework and your experience at the Cambridge College that has helped in developing the project?
I employed all of the skills I have learned in the website development courses
as well as many pedagogical tools that have been introduced to me at Cambridge
College. These include the following:
In Perspectives on Pedagogy, Curriculum, and the Web I, I was able to formulate my pedagogic creed and integrate Internet lessons into that creed.
In Perspectives on Pedagogy, Curriculum, and the Web II, I learned how to use mindtools in classroom lessons and I developed a mindtool lesson that I will use in my Capstone.
In Designing Educational Materials 1, I learned how to create basic websites that is obviously a crucial tool in creating my Capstone.
Designing Educational Materials 2, I learned how to use more advanced capabilities in my Internet lessons, including the use of templates, forms and Flash.
In Online Research, I learned how to find information quickly and effectively for use in my Capstone.
In Professional Seminar 1, I expanded my ability to work effectively with colleagues on projects such as my Capstone.
In Professional Seminar 2, I researched educational sites that I modeled my Capstone after.
In Legal and Ethical Issues for Educators, I created a page on my site dealing with the legalities of creating and supporting a website for public and private use.
In Planning for Change, I learned how better to implement the website in my school while dealing with teachers that may not be won over by it at first.
In Professional Seminar 3, I found some great resources that I will use to train teachers how to use my site effectively and to support the continuing site.
In Networks for Educators, I learned how networks function in an academic environment and how this may impact the implementation of my website.
D. Have Other Experiences Shaped Your Work on This Project?
Working with disadvantaged students for the past five years has shown me the need for a website like the one I have developed for my Capstone. My personal experience teaching these students has made me aware of the need to reach the students who are failing because of absences.
E. How has the project affected your views about technology and the Internet supporting teaching and learning?
Creating this project has shown me how great a resource for reaching students that the Internet can be if used properly. It has also shown me that you can't assume that websites and programs will run properly on every computer, you need to anticipate problems cropping up, and find ways to deal with it before you publish a site.
F. How does this project help your audience reach current goals more effectively or new, previously unreachable goals?
My Capstone project will allow students that are absent from class to be able to keep up with the current work. This was difficult before, because many students are not able to get the work until after they return to class. Many times this creates a situation where the student falls behind in their work and may never catch up.
G. In What Ways does the Project Support Existing Learning Environments and/or Create New Ones?
My Capstone project will support the current lessons and grading process by allowing students to keep up with work they have missed due to absence, and by creating a method for teachers to keep a current grade on these absent students.
H. How does this project support changes in the school environment? (Discuss issues of the culture and organization of the educational institution and how the project helps overcome problems (like resistance) to school change and technology integration.)
My Capstone project should assist in continuing the movement in my school to use the Internet more effectively in teaching the students. Once students and teachers see how useful this website is I hope they will begin to implement it into their curriculum. People are more likely to accept change when they see how useful it is, and the ease with which the implementation can take place.
I. Have you accomplished the key objectives that you itemized in your Capstone proposal? In what ways has your project evolved from the original proposal submission?
The following quotations are from my Capstone proposal.
"I would like to create a website that the students would be able to go to outside of the classroom (even at home) to get the days lessons. Students would be able to get the classroom and homework assignments online as well as a tutorial of the day's lesson. Students will be able to submit their classwork, homework and exams online through this site. Students will be able to get extra help, and help each other through a discussion board that I will set up."...I believe these objectives were all met by the website I have created.
"I anticipate the following goals: To enable students to keep up with daily lessons even though they are not in class. To enable the teacher to not have students that are constantly behind with their work. To enable the students taking advantage of my site to have a lower attrition rate and higher standardized test scores."...I still anticipate these goals, and will be able to see the results during the next school year.
The deliverables and milestones were not all kept. I found it difficult creating the website while school was still in session. I had too much work at my school, and I was not able to work on the school's computers for legal reasons as I was leaving the school system and wanted to keep full ownership of my work.
My original proposal did not take into account the difficulties some students
may have using my website because of personal or technological issues. As a
result I created three pages in different formats for each webpage, I cut back
the "flashy" aspects of my site so students will not become unduly
distracted, and I included a link to the CAST eReader so students may have the
site read to them if necessary.
What lessons have you learned? (this is very important)
I have learned many lessons about creating educational websites while creating my Capstone project: You must take varying disabilities into account. You must take into account different levels of technology that people and schools may have on their computers. There are many resources available at no cost for educators to assist students and fellow teachers in using the Internet efficiently.