Canadian Communities Atlas Project Overview
The project is the development of an on-line atlas that reflects the physical, economic, human, cultural, and historic geography aspects of your community. It is coordinated by GEOACCESS, the former National Atlas Information Service of Geomatics Canada, in partnership with the Teacher's Advisory Group of the Canadian Council for Geographic Education (Mr. Laracy is a member of this Teacher Advisory Group).
The project will provide teachers and their students with the suggested thematic topics for student research in their community, e.g., local climate and weather, fishing industry, focal notable personalities, transportation (changes over time), local social, environmental, health issues, tourism, etc. The school can then publish the results using provided HTML templates to build their Community Atlas site which will be connected to their web site. An atlas Guide will provide suggested content ideas to allow students to collect the needed atlas information. The Template Guide will provide guidance in the technical details.
The schools participating in the project (10 pilot schools initially - representing each of the provinces of Canada) will be linked to the national mapping themes at the GeoACCESS site will provide a search tool that will allow students to search for specific details about other communities and then explore their search results.
Schools will be able to match the pace and the content of their own Community Atlas development to existing school curriculums and schedules. The atlas project permits a wide variety of choices allowing completion either as a class, a school, or even a district while using geography as the tool to use skills from a variety of subject areas in the completion of the atlas.
Because of the potential magnitude of this Community Atlas Project, All Hallows School proposes that three classes/teacher become involved in the project. Consequently, three class projects will be developed and will contribute to the Canadian Community Atlas, All Hallows site. The project goals of each class at each grade level will be to complete a minimum of one Atlas thematic modules over the next twelve months. In this way, the combined efforts of students across grade levels within the same school community can be collated in the development of a significant number of pages for the All Hallows site of the Canadian Community Atlas.
Students will undoubtedly feel a sense of comradarie as they work jointly contributing towards the development of their schools WWW Site and its related links. Teachers will have the opportunity to collaborate with one another on curriculum and technical aspects of the projects providing mutual guidance and support in the construction of the Internet site.
Technical support would be provided by the National Canadian Community Atlas coordinator to the ten lead teachers across the country. The lead teacher for this project at the All Hallows would then be expected to become a regional contact for this province in the Canadian Community Atlas project.
The Canadian Community Atlas essentially provides for the student:
(a) collection of information as a student centred activity around the Social Studies Curriculum,
(b) formatting and editing of information,
(c) placement of the data into pre-coded templates,
(d) placement of the pages generated on their Internet server.
Each geography theme has suggested areas that may be included. Classes will be provided with opportunities to collect local information. Some themes are more visual in nature and will require photos, diagrams, and maps such as photos of local plants or climographs based on local climate information. Classes will be free to choose from the themes that are applicable to their curriculum and community as well as their time availability.
Participation in this major project is a natural extension of the Social Studies programs offered in this province. The grade three focuses on specific studies of mining, fishing, agricultural, and forestry related communities. The grade five program focuses on many of the physical, cultural, human and historical aspects of Newfoundland. The grade six program focuses on a study of the historical, geographic, economic, and cultural aspects of the major regions of Canada. The specific geographic themes selected for this project are directly related to the curriculum content of these programs. A review of the suggested themes readily indicates their appropriateness.
Suggested themes for initial project work at each grade level include:
The project also has provision for participants to provide unique local perspectives and historical links that would make our site unique and fit the local curriculum needs better, e.g., archaeological work, service centres, local history.
Participation in this project will provide specific opportunities for students to:
Student skills across a variety of curriculum areas will have to be utilized in the completion of specific project themes. Curriculum outcomes most obviously targeted will include, but are not limited to, the following:
Be able to select, read, and view with understanding a range of literature, information media and visual texts.
Be able to interpret, select, and combine information using a variety of strategies, resources, and technologies.
Be able to use a range of strategies to develop effective writing and media products and to enhance their clarity, precision, and effectiveness.
Demonstrate an understanding that people interact with their physical environment to create and refine their social environment.
Demonstrate an understanding that natural resources help to shape the decisions that people make as they meet their needs and wants.
Demonstrate an understanding that the economy and institutions evolved over time to meet a variety of needs.
Collect, display, and analyze data to make predictions about a population.
Understanding that science, technology, the environment, and society are interrelated.
Demonstrate knowledge of the nature and characteristics of a variety of media and communication systems.
Identify and investigate real life communication problem situations and opportunities.
Develop a vocabulary of terminology and language related to selected communications technologies, e.g., Internet.
Use communications technologies to build new knowledge from existing information.
Use communication tools to access, evaluate and select appropriate information, and to create, modify, and disseminate information.
Understand the role of technology to enhance the learning process, will use technology as learning tools and will develop active learning strategies to employ technology for lifelong learning.
The availability of a Stellar School Internet connection will effectively facilitate this project by:
- providing efficient access by students to the GEOACCESS web site in Ottawa.
- enhancing access to needed community data for participating schools through a GEOACCESS agreement with Stats Canada.
- providing for an enhanced Internet access to our school based server on which the school homepage and the project Canadian Communities Atlas data would be placed thus making this data and its associated links readily accessible to other project participants as well as all Internet users.
- providing for an enhanced and thus effectiveness of providing access to the Internet for groups of students. (At present we have only a single Internet connection. Accessing the Internet through our local Internet provider's server is extremely difficult and most often it is impossible during peak use hours. Such inaccessibility mitigates against teacher and students use of the Internet).
This overall project is an initiative coordinated by the efforts of Peter Paul and Eric Kramers at GEOACCESS, the former National Atlas Information Service of Geomatics Canada in Ottawa, ON. Wayne Hamilton is the Canadian Community Atlas project coordinator hired to work with pilot teachers from the Teachers Advisory Group of the Canadian Council for Geographic Education centered at Queens University in Kingston, ON. Mr. Laracy of All Hallows Elementary is a member of the Teachers Advisory Group of the Canadian Council for Geographic Education working with the National Atlas Information Service at GEOACCESS since 1995.
SchoolNet, through Industry Canada, is also a partner and is involved in the "National Atlas on Line", a related project in conjuction with GEOACCESS. Costs associated with the inservice and training of our lead teacher at Queens University in March, 1997 are being underwritten in their totality by Natural Resources Canada, of which GEOACCESS is a division, and Industry Canada through SchoolNet.
For the purposes of evaluation, the Canadian Community Atlas project will be judged to have been effective if:
- students have been actively engaged in the gathering of information as it relates to a variety of geographic aspects of the local community.
- students have effectively written, edited and organized textual and visual material.
- students have placed this data into pre-coded HTML templates.
- students have increased their facility in using the computer and more specifically the Internet as a tool for the location and publishing of data.
- students have allowed for their research on their local community to be placed into a WWW document.
- students have published local data specific to selected geographic themes and provided links to other WWW sites showing these geographic themes.
- students have developed a vocabulary of terminology and language related to the use of the Internet.
In summary, the participation of students in the Canadian Communities Atlas project through the provision of a Stellar School Internet connection will have a positive impact on the students and staff as they perceive the technology associated with the computer and the Internet as a valuable learning tool. The ultimate goal is to develop active student/staff learning strategies that will employ technology for lifelong learning with the focus of the learning being based on something immediately accessible to all learners - the local community.