Project W.O.W. spring 1998 - fall 2009
Carl Sandburg School, Charleston IL
Department of Early Childhood, Elementary, and Middle Level Education
Eastern Illinois University

Lou Conwell, Kathy Miller, and Judy Barford

Wonders of Water, 1997-1998
Toward the end of the fall semester, 1997, Lou Conwell, 4th grade teacher, and Kathy Miller, 3rd grade teacher, Carl Sandburg School, Charleston, extended a marvelous invitation.  They asked the social studies class to participate with teams of 3rd and 4th graders who were investigating 15 of the major rivers of the world in a project called Wonders of Water, W.O.W.  The EIU social studies students would work with a river team once a week for the semester.  Project WOW began as a T.I.M.E. (Technology Integrated Methods in Education) grant, written by the teachers and funded by Community Unit School District #1, Charleston, IL.  The river teams would display the results of their research first in linear format with CLARIS Slide Show, and then in multimedia format with Hyperstudio 3.1.   Explanation of the further objectives of Project WOW -- cooperative strategies, cross grade level teams, research guided by children's questioning, the cultural, historical, environmental, geographic, scientific dimensions available, the technology to be learned, the opportunity to learn social studies while at work for a semester with a team of children -- resulted in unanimous acceptance of the invitation from the ELE3340 social studies methods students.  Yes, they would reconfigure their semester and learn to teach by joining Project WOW, Rivers.

The results of the semester long voyages along the rivers were burned onto the first Project WOW CDs. These were ready in August, 1998, and were distributed to all participants at Carl Sandburg and at EIU.   In our group photo all are easily visible except Katie Pippenger (top of her head and one knowing eye showing)  between Amy and Kari.  Lisa Puzerewski couldn't come for the photo, but we remember her anyway! The first WOW participants were pioneers and adventurers.  Carl Sandburg School was in the midst of complete renovation, remodeling, and enlargement from 10 to 30 classrooms.  L. Conwell and K. Miller borrowed computers from other teachers on WOW days.  About 20 MACs were rolled down the halls and assembled in a makeshift lab.  Finding quality children's literature and adequate Internet resources on 16 major rivers was challenging.  Before WOW, access to the HyperStudio program  was not available to pre-service teachers on the EIU campus.  We found ways to learn the program.  We all pulled together and were amazed with what the teams accomplished.  A viewing of the completed rivers stacks was held in the new auditorium of the Buzzard Hall, EIU, for parents and interested EIU faculty and students in May, 1998.  The momentum created by the earlier WOW experiences is felt as we look forward to our eleventh WOW semester, Fall, 2003, the time of the writing of these introductory paragraphs.

Wonders of Wisdom, 1998-2001
The College of Education and Professional Studies supported the project with telefund dollars and a PDS mini-grant (1999-2000).   The project design for 1998-2001 features 16 global heroes, two each in the 8 multiple intelligences categories.  Project WOW curriculum begins in the fall  with autobiographical research among the children and the EIU facilitators.  We identify our own unique characteristics to relate to the heroes who will be studied.  Similarities are discovered among the children and  class graphs are made to display results in categories such as favorite school subjects, places of birth, 'in the future I see myself...' Claris slide show was used  to enable the children to present linear information.  Children and EIU facilitators went on to develop autobiographical HyperStudio stacks. During the current year we have used KidPix slide shows.   EIU social studies methods students introduce global heroes to the third graders in carefully researched skits, using comparative data between participants and global heroes in multiple intelligences categories.  Once the children select themselves into global hero teams, the EIU pre-service teachers prompt team questioning and guide team investigations into the culture, geography, and historical contributions of the global hero.   The teams select prominent topics from their accumulated research and design a HyperStudio stack (through spring, 2000),  KidPix slide show,  and web pages featuring the global hero.  In July, 1999, and again, July, 2000, one hundred copies of  the Project WOW CD were distributed to participants.  The Project WOW II CD features the global heroes projects and the autobiography stacks for each third grade author.  The Project WOW III CD includes all of the above and also autobiography stacks for each EIU facilitator.The WOW IV CD will feature the WOW Web site.
spring 1999 group photo, EIU participants.

Wonders of Wisdom:
Global Heroes, Fall, 2000 / Illinois Heroes, Spring, 2001
This year WOW curriculum changed from the 16 global heroes  for  the fall semester to 16 significant individuals of  Illinois for the spring semester.  We want to investigate the contributions of home state heroes such as Jane Addams, Abraham Lincoln, Marquette and Joliet, Frank Lloyd Wright, Carl Sandburg, and John Deere.  Third graders used KidPix to design and present their findings.  EIU team leaders used Netscape Composer to post their work on our new Project WOW website.  Support this year has come from  a CEPS telefund award and from a PT3 mini-grant.
Our latest technology application will be use of the GPS Magellan 315 to enhance geographical perceptions associated with the WOW curriculum.
Group photo, Fall, 2000.

Wonders of Wisdom: Global Heroes, Fall, 2001 , Fall, 2004

Wonders of the Wilderness: The Lewis and Clark Expedition, Spring, 2002 Fall, 2002, and Spring, 2004
                                                                                                                                                     Spring, 2005    Spring, 2006                                                       
This year WOW curriculum began with sharing of autobiographies, class profile graphs, and global hero skits.  The autobiographies enable participants to get acquainted and to realize the individual as the fulcrum of history.   Class graphs utilize interest categories from the autobiographies give participants full group profiles.  The global hero skits introduce third graders to team possibilities.  Children select heroes whom they would like to investigate further and who may match their own interests and intelligences.  In Fall, 2001, teams used KidPix for their team author statements.  Inspiration software was used for the overview pages which summarize the main ideas about the hero investigated by the teams.  Netscape Composer, available in the Buzzard labs at EIU,  is the HTML editor.  Children and EIU facilitators used the PT3 portable iBook lab as well as the Gateway PC workstations to develop the hero pages.  Support for the project continues from the Charleston School district and from the PT3 grant at EIU.
WOW teams explored the journey of Lewis and Clark to the Pacific in commemoration of the bicentennial of the expedition under our new WOW heading: Wonders of the Wilderness/ The Lewis and Clark Expedition.   During these years, we made several field trips west to the Museum of Westward Exapansion under the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. We  visited Cahokia Mounds, to honor the early people of the Mississippi valley  and the Camp Dubois State Historical Site from which the Corps of Discovery departed in May, 1804.

Wonders of Wisdom: American Heroes, Fall, 2003
For 2003, we are studying American Heroes in the multiply intelligences categories.  The curriculum goal is to nurture authentic patriotism as service to others and to the community by writing, exploring, creating, inventing.  Our heroes have contributed to the value-base of American culture.  Professional literature continues to feature heroes curriculum. We find WOW wonders of wisdom strategies particularly appealing to first semester third graders.  In the Spring, we will return to Lewis and Clark, because, as clearly stated at the November National Conference of the National Council for the Social Studies, this is not a teachable moment, but a teachable two years.

Windows on our World:  Environmental Heroes, Fall, 2005

Environmental Heroes who have alerted the national and global communities to the wonders and needs of the environment engaged eight WOW teams.  Pre-service teachers, WOW team facilitators,  have combined  social studies, science, and language arts methods to explore the life and achievements of  persons who have dedicated their lives to environmental understanding and stewardship.   See course syllabus and calendar below.

Windows on our World:  Global Heroes and Cultures, Fall, 2006

We have selected global heroes whose lives are beacons of achievement and who model the highest levels of  global citizenship, wisdom and dedication.  Each hero has been studies biographically, historically, and against the background of home country and culture.   In mini-field trips on their computer lab days on campus, the children have met dedicated people of today who are working in the same areas of endeavor, or who have the same home cultures as the eight WOW heroes.  Team Web pages are digests of WOW team work, August through November, 2006.

Wilderness or White House:  Lincoln and the Land, Spring, 2007
                                                Lincoln Shows the Way, Spring 2008
                                                Lincoln Shows the Way, Spring, 2009

                                    We have selected Lincoln in anticipation and celebration of the Bicentennial of his birth. 

Wonders of Wisdom: Illinois Heroes, Fall, 2007

Wonders of Wisdom: The Stuggle for Freedom, 1800's, Fall, 2008

Wonders of the Wilderness:  National Parks and Historic Sites, Fall, 2009

The project has been presented nationally for the National Council of Social Studies, the Organization of American Historians, the Association of Teacher Educators,  the Association for Childhood Education International, and at state conferences of the Illinois Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development and the Illinois Association of Librarians and Media Specialists, and the Illinois Association of Teacher Educators.  At EIU,  Project WOW has been featured at the CEPS research fair, 1999 -- 2006.   The WOW Open House during which team table displays and Web pages are viewed by children and their families occur at the end of each semester in the Buzzard Atrium, upper floor, EIU.   The Wonder of the Wilderness teams presented at the PT3 EIU Technology Fair. 

EIU student work for Project WOW was featured in the Hall of Excellence, ACEI annual conference, Tampa, 1998, and San Antonio, 1999,  Toronto, 2001, and at the Illinois state colleges' student research fair, Springfield, 2000, 2001, and 2003.

In April, 2001, Project WOW was presented at the Annual Conference of the Association for Childhood Education International, Toronto, CAN.   Collaborative strategies from Project WOW have been selected for presentation at the national conference of the National Council for the Social Studies, Washington, D. C., November 2001, November 2002, and the Innovations in Collaboration Conference, NCSS and OAH, June, 2003, National Conference for History Education, Spring 2008.

School-based social studies methods coursework
Course syllabus and calendar for details of  curriculum development within the course and the day-to-day work of the EIU team leaders with the third grade teams.

WOW course syllabus, Fall, 2008
WOW course calendar, Fall, 2008

Return to WOW  mainpage

J. Barford