Monday, April 28, 2008

Maile Peachey: The Boalsburg Grant Project

In another great Education World profile, Cara Bafile introduces us to Maile Peachey and Corl Street Elementary School's Boalsburg Grant Project. The fifth grade students study history in a way that belies the usual "nothing exciting every happens where I live" mantra you can often hear from middle schoolers. Though the project has not been updated in a few years, it is still a great model for similar projects and the webpages produced are still available on the Web.

decided to center their project around As Peachey and fellow teacher Loretta Jeffreys (now retired) talked about creating a project, they knew they wanted to avoid just looking at Penn State and State College, Pennsylvania, as a college town. With lots of historical sites all around the State College area, Peachey and JeffreysBoalsburg, PA, the birthplace of Memorial Day.

A Pennsylvania Digital Grassroots grant supplied the computers and digital video cameras needed and the project was off and running. To get students involved in "documenting the past, present, and future of historic Boalsburg, Pennsylvania, on the Internet," Peachey explained, they had to learn "such skills in technology as designing Web pages, creating and editing movies using digital cameras and iMovie software on Mac computers, using scanners, exporting photos in jpeg format to the Internet, and linking other related Web sites."

The fifth graders at Corl Street have no American History or language arts textbooks. Articles, simulations, discussions, videos, guest speakers, and projects are used instead. Students also visit local historical sites. Two fifth grade classes discuss the project as a whole then break into smaller groups to work on specific topics and projects as part of the overall Boalsburg Grant Project. Multiple web pages were produced each year. Those pages and updates are available at this website.

Peachey told Bafile that she especially liked that the bulk of the work on over 100 webpages was done by the fifth graders themselves: "They took ownership of the project and felt great pride about what they accomplished. Each student came away feeling that important people and events really are located near them, not just in places typically discussed in history textbooks." Her advice to other teachers is to not shy away from a big idea or big project. Projects like the Boalsburg Grant Project excite all students regardless of learning style or even ability level. Plus, "it creates fun, happy memories and learning that lasts!" This project is a great model for integrating middle school social studies, local history, language arts, and many Web 2.0 tools.

SOURCE: "Teacher Feature Starring: Maile Peachey" 5/16/05
photo courtesy of Jeff Kubina, used under this Creative Commons license

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