Fermilab LInC Online

The Community Heritage Project

Committments to the Past and

to the Future



Student Pages


Index of Projects

Background / Context

Lack of moisture, gusting winds, costs of production, lack of government support, low prices, and excess comodities, all reasons why fewer families are staying in agriculture, are wreaking havoc on the economy of small rural towns across America today. As a result towns like Fort Benton, a small rural agricultural town located along the Missouri River in North Central Montana are on the verge of withering quietly, slowly away.

As citizens of these communities, students have an important task ahead of them. They are the next generation of rural America's citizens. The future of their communities is in the hands of the young people, adults of the future. How can students help? Students can use their technology proficiencies and creativity to design products intended to promote tourism in their town or region. Students will come up with projects to do their part in saving their towns from the state of dying economies.

This project will involve high school juniors in English 11 taught by Audra Morger-Bonilla. Mrs. Bonilla is assissted by Golden Triangle Cooperative Technology Integration Specialist, Pam Birkeland, and Library Media Specialist, Carley Evans. The project is cross-curricular within English, socials studies, technology literacy, information skills, and community education. The students will work on the project one period a day for the last quarter of the school year or nine weeks. Many other individuals will contribute to the success of this project from parents, to grandparents, to community elders, to former community members, to area business persons, and area historians.


In the beginning:

The students will be challenged to help their community's dying economy by producing both print and non-print materials to promote tourism in the area. The teacher will present a guest from the local Community Improvement Association who will paint a picture of the need to promote their community. She will plead with the students to help save their community from extinction. The challenge put forth by the CIA is for the students involved in the project to produce a video, brochures, and a website to let the world know what this community has to offer.

After this initial contact, the students and teachers are meeting to discuss what the project will entail. Students will brainstorm what content would be interesting to include in these materials. The discussion will be facilitated by the teachers who will interject ideas when appropriate. One item the teachers will throw in to the hat is connectiveness. Why did people move to or visit this community, and why are people choosing to stay in the community as adults or choosing to move back? When students and facilitators have a list of topics, students choose the topics that interest them in groups. The first week is spent going through theBig6 process and thinking of topics needed to complete the project. A brainstormed list is completed of people whom students will contact for testimonials regarding their community. A decision is made to contact experts in the fields of video production, oral history interviewing and documentation, and website design to help in completing the project. During this first week students have the opportunity to participate in a Super Host seminar where upon completion of the 3 hour training, they are now Super Hosts for their commnity. Students work to compile a database of contacts for help and testimonials. Each day students will assess the day's work with one minute assessment electronic journal entries. They are also busy evaluating their week using KWL charts and tech check sheets. Students are careful to document any resource data they find useful. At the end of the day students spend a few minutes sharing hilights or concerns from the day's work. Weekly the students evaluate their work as a group. Throughout the project students continually revisit the Big6 process to improve upon their work.


Students spend the weeks 2 through 7, gathering data, photos, video clips, audio, etc. to include in the products they create. Students are able to work with experts in the field learning webpage design, video, and oral interviewing skills. They conduct live interviews and interviews via e-mail to determine what it is about their community that keeps or gets people connected. Students also spend time at the local museums and public library gathering information. Time on the Internet gathering information for the project is invaluable. While all of this is taking place, the facilitators are acting as guides on the side: asking questions, offering hints, finding contacts, offering technical support. Students spend time learning about databases and organizing the information they have gathered. Students who have compiled adequate information are beginning to produce their promotional materials.

The End:

During the last two weeks of the project, students are in the full-bore production stage. There are students scurrying about everywhere, videoing around the community, editing video, designing and creating webpages in the computer lab, producing published promotional brochures, dubbing audio, answering e-mail messages, taking photos around town, etc. The last week of school finds the weary workers at an "UNVEILING" PARTY. Distinguished guests arrive at the library for the unveiling of the promotional materials designed to save smalltown America. Distinguished guests include the mayor, councilpersons, CIA members, interviewees, school officials, parents, fellow students, and communtiy members. Certainly it is a night that the students will always remember. At the conclusion of the projects students are busy evaluating their experiences in saving the economy of their town.

Note: June: Students can be found secretly observing tourists using their materials at the local museums and the visitor information center, a smile of pride resides on their eager faces.

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Created for the Fermilab LInC program sponsored by Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory Education Office and Friends of Fermilab, and funded by United States Department of Energy, Illinois State Board of Education, North Central Regional Technology in Education Consortium which is operated by North Central Regional Educational Laboratory (NCREL), and the National Science Foundation.

Author(s):Pam Birkeland, e-mail: tis@gtccmt.org
Golden Triangle Curriculum Cooperative, Shelby, MT
Created: March 23, 1999
URL: http://www-ed.fnal.gov/lincon/w99/projects/heritage/scenario.htm