Conference to introduce results from the 100-School Networking Project (Phase II)
Junior high school meeting

Authoring on the Internet

Masakazu Fukushima, Sendai Daiichi Junior High School

1. Introduction

In FY 1997, as part of our Internet use project, we combined subject study with special activities and undertook a more comprehensive approach to teaching. In social studies, we taught students about the Sannai-Maruyama ruins before the actual visit, and this lesson proved useful in preparing them for the trip. For the first time, eighth graders interacted with students from other local junior high schools in outdoor activities. In English classes, we used the Internet to teach rapid reading skills to enable students to skim English when searching for information. This effort had the added benefit of arousing the interest of students who had been somewhat unenthusiastic about the study of English.

We use the Internet for authoring and for exchanging data. We believe this allows students to create more advanced simulations and to share each other's data, resulting in more effective learning. Installed four years ago, the computers at our school have hard disk capacities of only 170 MB, and came with Windows 3.1. Installing Windows 95 to improve access to the Internet eliminated much of what free hard disk space we had. As a result, we are considering ways of using software on the Internet. We now use WWW authoring software and store data on our Internet or LAN servers. This leaves at least 20 MB of hard disk space for various other files, including plug-ins and ActiveX files.

2. Examples of usage

Social studies for eighth graders Unit: "Places we know—The Yotsuya irrigation canal"

The Yotsuya irrigation canal was built about four hundred years ago by order of Masamune Date, the founder of the Sendai clan. Its main channel still runs through our school district, though its appearance is quite different from that in the past.

We focused our student research on the history of this irrigation canal, finding out more about the area where we live. We reproduced a portion of the canal that is no longer visible using VRRM. Students learned a lot from this experience, and they came up with many interesting questions. They summarized and organized what they had learned by contrasting the Yotsuya irrigation canal as it was then and as it is now. We placed this information on our home page to make it available to others via the Internet.

The purpose of this lesson was to learn about the intense efforts of the people who once lived here to improve their province; and to use this information to see our present lives from a different perspective. The goal of publishing our research results on the Internet was to spur students to better efforts. On the home page, our students published their questions and discoveries, including surprise findings, expressing their wonder at the ruins found in our hometown. Their research deepened their knowledge of their region and deepened their perceptions of the modern world.

An optional art class for ninth graders

As we did last year, computers connected to the Internet were set up in the art room, making them available to anyone at any time. As we did last year, we used the Internet to teach art appreciation in the ninth grade elective class. We established the "Ichibou Museum" in an empty classroom as part of a memorial project to celebrate our school's fiftieth anniversary. We collected the work of painters from our province and displayed them on our home page, with comments from the painters, and used them in our lessons. Installing Mac OS8 has made using the computers easier and has reduced the number of mistakes made by the students.
Yotsuya irrigation canal

Technical arts and home economics for ninth graders Unit: Using woodworking software on the Internet

To learn how to make something from wood, our students made pens holder from small logs. Later, they made a bookstand from sheets of wood from their own design. Knowing from experience that students often fail in designing a bookshelf because they don't have a sufficient grasp of drafting, I had our seventh graders use computers to help with woodworking, with the idea that they would learn both basic computing and techniques related to woodworking. I plan to show the simulations, comparing them to the real thing. Every student needs to complete a project. I use this software to raise their interest. My goal is to get students, including those rather unskilled at technical drawing, to become more interested in what they're doing, to understand the features and methods of working with wood, and to improve their skills. My hope in doing so is to improve their skills at creating something from wood and to get them to consider its purpose and how it will be used.

A picture on display in the lchibou Museum

This software includes the following computer tools: choosing the front and trigonometry, cabinet shape and isometric projection, bonding materials, direction and strength of grain, straight grain and cross grain of wood, and logs and boards. In the lesson, I plan to use mainly the front and trigonometry. One characteristic of this software is that it uses WWW authoring software.

Technical arts and home economics for ninth graders Unit: Using interior design software on the Internet

This software lets you to see a bookstand
from various angles
Since FY 1994, we've used computers to learn about houses, designing dining rooms and living rooms. Students came to see the planned three-dimensional living space when looking at a floor plan, and learned to design their dream LDK in no time at all. The disadvantage of the floor plan was that it lacked symbols to indicate surface level and to designate furniture and appliances. This hampered the ability of students to learn how to read floor plans correctly, and how to arrange furniture while taking into account the movement of people within a given space. To help students get a better understanding of LDK space, I developed software for my class. In developing the software, I incorporated various suggestions and listened to various expressions of dissatisfaction regarding ActiveX software on the World Wide Web.

3. Conclusion

Using the Internet for educational purposes poses some problems, including difficulties with access. Our school set up fifty computers that are connected to the Internet. Although we switched to a digital line this year, using more than thirty computers at once still overloads our network. This problem should be solved in the future.

Use of the Internet has become a regular part of our curriculum. I would like to develop more software and to incorporate them into our comprehensive studies.

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