Introducing Barbara Schulz...

Hi Everyone!

I feel so honored to be invited among such esteemed people. I have admired quietly from the sidelines for so long and am so excited to finally have the courage to be in such a global "garden". Your theme for this project is so appropriate. I have long thought of children as roses (complete with thorns for their protection). They can bloom beautifully by following the trellis and with a good gardener to trim and train. Or they can fall on the path and be trampled by life. We are the gardeners that build the trellis and can guide them to full blooms.......

As for the mystery project that Patti mentions, I have Hanne Bentzen and John Ost to thank for getting me involved with it. Hanne had written to the KidProj list inviting someone to collaborate on writing a mystery with her class in Denmark. Since mystery stories are a focus of our 4th grade curriculum, and I have long been excited about using the internet in the classroom, especially IRC, I jumped at the chance.....

My students have met with John once or twice a week on IRC ( more frequently right now, though). He has been our mentor and guide. You can see our progress by checking out the website at:

We started by brainstorming ideas and collaborating with Hanne's class to get the basic plot. Then while the Denmark students were on holiday, we continued to write our portion of the story. Most of the collaboration was done through email because of the time challenges. Hanne did meet with my class, and I did meet from home with Hanne's class.

The story eventually became difficult to write with 28 authors, so we broke into committees. The Illustrators design and illustrate the graphics for the story. The Writers take the ideas the whole class discusses, and puts them into the paragraphs that make up the actual story. The Researchers look up info that we need to make the story authentic (such as sea monsters, eagles vs. seagulls - which can fly across the ocean, oilspills). The Mathematicians are writing word problems that hopefully Hanne's class will proofread and edit to make as another curricular connection for the story. TheWebDesigners helped to turn the writing into html (Using Netscape Communicator/Composer), so that it is easier for John to post them on the web.

We hope eventually to make this an open-ended story that others can add to. Chessie the sea monster has taken a student's bookbag with a secret formula for cleaning up oil spills (this is the piece that ties into our Science curriculum on Recycling/Conservation and Chemical & Physical Changes). As Chessie travels, we hope that s/he drops pieces of the formula in other places and other classes can add a piece of the story... A seagull has gotten the first piece stuck on his tail with some tar and is taking it to Denmark, where Hanne's kids are taking the story from there..

We have accomplished most of this project with 2 Macs in the room, and 1 laptop(my own personal one) with a connection to the internet in the room. We did not have a computer room in the school until about a month ago. At that time we received 25 PC's with no internet connection. They are temporarily stored on the stage so that I have been able to inservice the staff in using them. When inservice is over, they will be divided among the classrooms, and we again will have no lab. So, needless to say my kids and I have been on the stage furiously getting work done while we have access to so many computers in one place. The rest of the school currently has 1-3 Apple IIes in each room with MECC software for drill and practice (this was our previous " distributed lab"). There are also 3 more Macs throughout the school.

Only two rooms got connected to a phone line about 5 years ago when another teacher and I took a course called "Creating Connections". The other teacher does not use her connection to the internet, but I couldn't live without it. My background in technology started when I was little. My father worked for IBM and was a field engineer who fixed "big blue". I teethed on computer paper and used keypunch cards for flashcards. I have always been fascinated with computers, but didn't get a chance to really try it out myself until I started teaching in Harford County in 1986. At that point, my classroom was next to the computer room, and when teachers had trouble with the computer, I was the one who usually did the troubleshooting.

My first taste of telecommunications came in 1988, when a modem was hooked into that lab. Another teacher and I sent email messages to each other through the local high school using 2400baud on Apple IIe's. When I transferred in 1991 to another school nearer my home, I lost that connection and really missed it. So I was really excited when I got the chance to attend the "Creating Connections" workshop aimed at connecting rural schools. And the fact that my telephone line was installed right before a "freeze" was put on the county for technology, made it seem that divine intervention has guided my footsteps.

Patti at this point became an inspiration, also. I attended her sessions at the MICCA convention, and became so inspired at the ideas that Kidlink had to offer, that I went back to get my master's degree in Technology for Educators. Since then, I have cultivated my students with things from the internet. Usually it had to be behind closed doors, because our administration thought I was crazy, and that technology interferred with instruction. Recently, I have been able to come out of the closet, because due to Federal and State grants, the administration is starting to value technology as a tool needed by our students for their futures. And to be able to work with the esteemed gurus that I have listened to and watched for so long, is so special to me. Thank you so much for inviting me to join the listserv. I am looking forward to working with the teachers in Hawaii...... my head is spinning thinking of ways to collaborate with them.

Well, Patti, this "little" has turned into a "lot". Hope it hasn't bored anyone.

Thanks again for the invite,
Barb Schulz

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Patricia A. Weeg