UB-Lake Shore School Project Receives $60,000 Apple Grant

Release Date: August 21, 1998 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A collaborative education project that partners the Lake Shore Central School District and the University at Buffalo Graduate School of Education with the Seneca Nation of Indians has been awarded a grant worth more than $60,000 in equipment and training from Apple Computer, Inc.

The project will demonstrate the application of teaching strategies that use storytelling and computer technology to improve the reading comprehension and analytical skills of fourth-graders. The new New York State learning standards place considerable emphasis on those skills.

The project, titled "The Star and the OWL," is one of 10 grants awarded by Apple nationwide out of 4,000 applications, with a second year of funding possible for successful projects. "OWL" stands for the "On Line Writing Lab" that will be developed in the Lake Shore district as part of the project. "Star" illustrates the connections among all the parties involved, including the students and their families.

The project will involve 75 fourth-graders in the Lake Shore district who will gather stories from their various cultural traditions and transform them into written narratives expressed in their own voices. One-third of the participants will be Seneca children, who come from a culture in which the oral storytelling tradition is highly valued. They will be the first to go through the program and then will model the process for the rest of the students.

Student teachers in UB's Buffalo Research Institute on Educating for Teaching (BRIET) also will be involved, assisting the children in person and by e-mail and instructing them in the use of computer technologies to illustrate and publish their texts. The results will be saved in paper and electronic versions and the children will use them to create multimedia CD-ROM presentations with sound and video.

The project will be co-directed by Susan Longtin, computer technology coordinator in the Lake Shore district, and James Collins, Ed.D., a nationally known literacy educator and UB professor of learning and instruction.

Collins is the author or editor of six books on the teaching of literacy through computer technology and has developed programs that help children to read better by teaching them how to write.

Native-American educators will be involved on both the UB and Lake Shore sides of the project. They are Paula Redeye, Native American counselor for the Lake Shore schools; Barbara Kennedy, director of the Seneca Nation Education Department (Cattaraugus Reservation), and Barry White, instructor in Native American Studies in the UB Department of American Studies.

White added that the project suggests a method whereby traditional stories presented by elders from the Seneca Nation or other communities can be preserved and archived on CD-ROM. He pointed out that capturing and preserving the Seneca language and oral traditions in electronic form will help pass these traditions on to the rest of the community and to subsequent generations who might not have the opportunity to hear the stories firsthand.

Kim Truesdale, assistant director of BRIET, said the project will teach UB student teachers how to integrate technology into the teaching process and give them an understanding of the state's English Language Arts Standards.

"The program offers the teachers continuity of experience as well," she said, "because after the project, they will complete teaching internships in the Lake Shore schools."

George Romanowski, assistant superintendent for instruction for the Lake Shore schools, said the partnership plans to make the most of the equipment and training it will receive from Apple Computer. Some children will be able to take computers home so they can work with parents and mentors on the writing of traditional stories.

The project began in June with nine days of training in Marin County, Calif., provided by Apple for all grant recipients. Travel costs were provided by UB and the Lake Shore School District. Duff's restaurant and the New Era Cap Company provided Buffalo products -- wings and caps -- for the Buffalo participants to present as gifts to the group of nationwide trainees.

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