My name is Marty Robertson, and I teach sixth grade at Peabody Charter School here in Santa Barbara. The Governing Council of Peabody Charter School and the Superintendents of Santa Barbara Elementary School District have graciously granted me a sabbatical from my teaching position from January 2007 to July 2007 in order to conduct fieldwork while living in the regions of Egypt, Greece, and Rome. The general goal is to create several multimedia collections and curriculums that focus on the artifacts, ruins, and geology of these ancient cultures. Through a careful mixture of large-scale and detailed pictures, videos, sounds, stories, and vocabulary I hope to give students a deeper appreciation and understanding for the ancient world and how it was shaped by geology. Slide shows and movies will be created for classroom presentations and teacher trainings for both here at Peabody and throughout Santa Barbara County. Students will also use the digital media I bring back to produce their own presentations using PowerPoint, iMovie, and PhotoShop. Sixth Grade California State Standards for social studies focus on the ancient cultures of Europe, Africa, and the Middle East while science standards focus on earth science geomorphology with specifics on volcanoes and earthquakes. My proposal integrates both of these content areas and is consistent with National Educational Technology Standards for grade six.
The vast majority of the district’s students have no context in which to place the stories, concepts, or vocabulary of geology and ancient civilizations. Many have never traveled outside of Santa Barbara County. Textbooks, no matter how well integrated, simply cannot capture the magnitude of geologic activity or the immensity of ancient civilizations. This is a unique opportunity to show students the interconnectedness of geology with the history we study. For example, the volcanic eruption of Mt. Thera on the island of Santorini around 1400 BC and the ensuing tsunami waves account for many major historical changes in the Mediterranean region. Making these connections can ignite a student’s overall interest in learning and provide them with a much-needed opportunity for academic success. Beyond the classroom, students are encouraged to bring their families to our computer lab and share their work with their families on our weekly open community nights; their productions will also be burned to CD and sent home for students to share with their families.
This project directly impacts the 115 sixth graders at Peabody Charter School and through in-services will serve the approximately 700 sixth graders in the Santa Barbara School District. About 69% of students in the district are Hispanic and 24% are Caucasian; 41% are not native English speakers and 44% are economically disadvantaged.
The availability of technology in the classroom is fairly commonplace, but its use is often limited to word processing and edutainment. Often what limits teachers is a curriculum context in which to use these tools more effectively. The use of industry-standard technology tools such as PowerPoint, iMovie, and PhotoShop provides students with vocational training and the opportunity to create and proudly present what they are learning in a professional manner. This is especially important for our economically disadvantaged and English Learner students who have less access and support at home to successfully demonstrate what they are learning. The materials I create will build upon both teacher and student prior technology experience, broadening both their technology skills as well as their knowledge of ancient civilizations and geology. I will also be offering several in-service trainings for teachers. This past year I have conducted several trainings for sixth grade teachers concerning a geology unit I co-wrote.
Project evaluation will begin with a review and public presentation of the materials I create upon my return from the sabbatical. My principal, our governing council, school district officials, project partners, as well as Peabody community members will be invited. The second phase of evaluation will be a presentation of the materials and curriculum to fellow teachers in Santa Barbara County. The final and most important layer of evaluation will be student presentations. Students will take the media materials I bring back and create their own presentations of these ancient civilizations. Improved student learning is the ultimate goal.
The Santa Barbara educational community has shown tremendous support and excitement for this project. I have several letters of support from parents, teachers, my principal, Santa Barbara School District superintendents, and the Santa Barbara County Superintendent of Education. I have just begun my search for grants but am pleased to have already received some grant support from the Wharton Foundation. Contact Jean Pettitt of the Wharton Foundation with any questions (firstname.lastname@example.org).
And yet, while there is great support, there is also great expense. I will continue to receive general employee benefits, but the cost of a substitute teacher replacement for my sabbatical leave will be taken from my salary. This amounts to about a $13,000 pay cut. In addition to this there will be fieldwork expenses while completing research as well as equipment needs in order to create the multimedia productions. I have attached my anticipated budget and am seeking several Santa Barbara community partners to join me in making this project a success.
I am inviting several individuals, businesses, and foundations to join me in this endeavor through financial and gifts-in-kind donations. The attached Anticipated Budget Expenses includes a list of specifics as to equipment. The main thing I am trying to do is travel light, unobtrusively, and still create high quality work. Peabody Charter School has formed a foundation with a non-profit 501(c)3 tax status. The foundation is handling all financial and gift-in-kind support for me in this venture. All contributions are tax deductible and should be made out to the Peabody Charter School Foundation.
I would be happy to acknowledge your support in any way you see fit if you should choose to participate. Please contact my principal or me with any questions or feedback. Thank you for considering your part in making this project a success.
Marty Robertson, Sixth Grade Teacher
Peabody Charter School
3018 Calle Noguera
Santa Barbara, CA 93105
(805) 563-1172 work