(Jay, VT) Recently, students at Jay/Westfield Elementary have been able to flex their creative muscles with new technology in both artistic and utilitarian ways. Whether it is with informational brochures on career paths with Microsoft Publisher, stop-motion animation videos edited together with their Dell netbook webcam and Windows MovieMaker, or even conceiving something as simple as a new cubby design to store and charge the the computers, they are eager to build upon ideas and share them with others. With increased broadband Internet access and a new Dell netbook for every 4th, 5th, and 6th grade student funded by the e-Vermont Community Broadband Project, Jay/Westfield students have all the tools they need to get things done and reach out to others.
Receiving the wood cubbies to house their netbooks was a cross-school effort and an example of how new technology can encourage community involvement. By getting in touch with the local high school, the participating elementary classrooms were able to have the high school shop class produce several cubbies that serve as an organized storage space and charging station. However, students don’t just work on their netbooks while in the classroom. As a part of the initiative, students were able to take the computers home and work on assignments like stop-motion animation videos and career pamphlets before presenting them to their peers. By organizing student work on a classroom wiki (collaborative website), students have been able to see and comment on the projects and contributions of their classmates, both in and outside of the classroom. One noteworthy stop-motion video centered around a Vermont farm scene, with its creator utilizing various farmhouse toys and props, mountains, and trees. The student’s contrasting video of rural settings and advanced technology usage highlights the underlying Vermont character of the e-Vermont technology and community initiative in numerous ways.