Mount Dora High School is “Cane Country.” Located in Mount Dora, Florida, this high school is one of fifty learning sites that comprises the Lake County School district. After just one visit to the Mount Dora High School website, you’ll probably notice two things:
1) Mount Dora’s colors are orange and white.
2) Mount Dora’s mascot is a Hurricane, and this school is proud of it!
What you might not notice, however, is the “Our School” tab toward the top of the home page. A gentle drag over this tab results in a drop-down menu displaying a few options, one being the Media Center. Go ahead, click “Media Center.” Seriously, do it 🙂 Okay, once you make it to the Media Center’s page, you’ll see a few options on the left hand side that you might expect, like “Media Center Information,” “Reading blog,” “Research Sites and Guidelines,” etc. But look again, and you’ll probably see something that you won’t find on a typical media center website. You’ll see “Web Archiving Project.”
View Mount Dora’s awesome web archiving trailer!! (Click on the link below)
Mount Dora High School has been an Archive-It K-12 partner since October 2010. Thanks to Ms. Patricia Carlton, one of Mount Dora’s wonderfully dedicated media specialists and the sole driver of the school’s web archiving partnership with Archive-It, Mount Dora students have created thirty web archive collections and preserved over three-hundred and fifty URLs. These web archive collections are diverse and range in topic from “Politics 2012” to “Modern Music” to “Social Networking.” I recently had a lovely Skype conversation with Ms. Carlton to chat about her experience implementing the Archive-It K-12 program at Mount Dora High School. Here’s an overview of our great conversation:
How long have you been an educator?
Ms. Carlton has been an educator for thirty years, and she’s been a media specialist for twenty-two of those years. “I love libraries,” Ms. Carlton said. Prior to working on the library side of education, Ms. Carlton taught English and art, and she has worked with students of all ages.
How many years have you been involved in the Library of Congress/Archive-It K-12 Web Archiving Program?
Seven or eight years.
How did you find out about the web archiving program?
Ms. Carlton became acquainted with the web archiving program after attending one of the Library of Congress’ summer institutes for educators. She had the pleasure of meeting Neme Alperstein, a teacher in a New York City public school, P.S. 174, who encouraged her to get involved with web archiving. Ms. Carlton began implementing the web archiving program with AP Geography students at Eustis High School. When she transferred to Mount Dora, she implemented the program in an English class. Ms. Carlton happily stated that “each year seems to get better and better.”
What made you interested in the program?
Ms. Carlton took her time with this question. “That has evolved,” she said. She was initially intrigued by the program because of its national connection with the Library of Congress. Once she started working with the program, however, her interest deepened. “I wanted to become better at teaching it.” Now, “the idea of preservation” is what really fascinates her. “What interests me now is this whole new way of looking at websites,” she explained. Both she and her students are “learning a lot about digital literacy” through the program while also gaining a new perspective on history. Ms. Carlton summed it up perfectly: “It’s about us saving our heritage.”
How do students select websites?
Ms. Carlton begins by showing students examples of web archive collections from previous years and schools. She explains to her students that “archives are collections.” She tells them, “Think of your local community [and] what is important to teen culture. We are going to represent ourselves to the world.” Basically, her students “have to write what their collection is going to be and why it’s significant to them. Then they surf the web.” Ms. Carlton wants the collections to be as student generated as possible, but occasionally she does provide guidance. “Over the years, I kept seeing the same collections—music, sports, etc.” She felt like her students could go farther than that. “This past year, I had them think about global issues that might affect them personally.” Ms. Carlton found that her students began “taking their subjects seriously” and came up with sites focusing on the environment, ecology, and other social issues.
Do students catch on to the technological requirements for the project easily?
“Yes, mainly the team leaders,” Ms. Carlton said. She admitted that there are sometimes technical issues with the network, causing students to lose the metadata they created. Hence, she always encourages them to write it out first. Another technological learning experience that her students had was with “budgeting.” Ms. Carlton’s students have a specific budget of data and space they can use during the web archiving project. Some students “used up their budget very quickly because the sites they chose had a lot of embedded videos,” she said. Students had to learn that “you don’t just simply archive a website … you limit it.”
How has web archiving benefited your students?
“They feel important,” Ms. Carlton said without a doubt. Her students love knowing they are part of a big program. In addition, Ms. Carlton noted the many educational benefits her students have received through the program. Through web archiving, students learn how to evaluate and deconstruct a website’s content; they learn that websites have messages and are created by many authors; students also learn that they have to be responsible when archiving sites because “every bit of data is space.” At a certain point, they must decide, “what’s important and what’s not.”
What challenges have you run into?
Ms. Carlton said that getting school and community support can be a challenge. She noted, however, that working with supportive teachers helps a lot. At Mount Dora High School, one of the history teachers she worked with was extremely enthusiastic, and this “enthusiasm carried over to her students.” Ms. Carlton explained that getting support is “always an ongoing thing.”
Are there any curriculum materials you wished you had to help you further integrate web archiving into the school curriculum?
“That would help,” Ms. Carlton affirmed. “When I introduce it, I tend to rely on the Library of Congress’ Teaching with Primary Sources.” Beyond that, “I [don’t] really have anything to go off of.” Ms. Carlton would like to see resources that provide her with another way of teaching the history of the web and the structure of the web. “I’ve pretty much learned as I’ve gone along, periodically looking at other teachers’ collections and resources. “I would love to collaborate with other teachers,” she mentioned. Ms. Carlton also suggested the use of rubrics and tutorials to help educators make web archiving a part of the school curriculum.
Ms. Patricia Carlton and the students of Mount Dora High School have truly done an amazing job with web archiving. The collections are diverse, thoughtful, and really speak to the issues and passions that are unique to teenagers and to residents of Mount Dora, Florida. One of my favorites is the “Life in Mount Dora, Florida” collection. As someone who has never lived in Florida and who knows very little about Mount Dora, this collection gives me a peek into the lives that these students live every day. Check out this collection along with many more created by Mount Dora students by using these links:
And of course…Go Canes!!
 “About Us,” Lake County Schools, accessed June 23, 2015, http://www.lake.k12.fl.us/domain/7745
 “Mount Dora High School,” Archive-It, accessed June 23, 2015, https://archive-it.org/organizations/498.