K-12 News: The Making Of The "Whatever" Page
The idea of the Whatever page was born on a December day in 1996 when I visited the class of a special education teacher, Sharon Kirkpatrick, at Hylton High School in Prince William County, Virginia. Sharon, her students, and I were sitting around in Sharon's classroom brainstorming about creating a web page "By LD Kids For All Special Ed Kids" when the name burst forth.
Nick, who works part-time as Technical Support for a national Internet Provider, is the Webmaster for the page. Nick collected the completed pages and pasted them first onto his own web space on Erol's. Mike and Will, students who graduated in June, 1997, developed the concept and visuals for the opening graphic. The idea came originally from Will, but Mike did the all o f the graphics required to build the animation. A zipper opens to let out the title of the page, WHATEVER, slides out, puffs out, tu rns multicolored, puffs out again, then disappears. The zipper re-appears. Then it reopens, and the titles goes through its little performance again. The animation continues as long as you are viewing the page. Mike now has his copyright on the animated graphic.
Students who worked on The Whatever Page during 1995-96 and are continuing with the project in 1996-97 include Mark, John, Jerry, Se an and Jeremiah. They can be reached via email by writing to their teacher at firstname.lastname@example.org, and requesting the class address, or by visiting The Whatever Page and using the email link to write to them. They also request that those who visit, sign the guest book. The students truly look forward to mail received from The Whatever Page.
Other than the animated zipper, The Whatever Page is a quiet and pretty page. A black and dark grey wooly texture back the yellow an d light turquoise letters. The font is soft and easy to read. The page has a definition for Whatever, provides a link to LD Online and a link to science resources, a link to a list of the member s of the Whatever Team, and link to paragraphs written by the students. The paragraphs reflect students' feelings about their learning disabilities, special education classes, school and life in general.
On the original Whatever page, the students had included links to places of interest to each of them. Unfortunately, strict guidelines that required links must be "squeaky clean" meant that some fantasy and science fiction links had to go. Students who had to edit their connections cheerfully did so as soon as they learned of a problem. They were explicitly concerned for younger LD kids who would be visiting their pages. They learned valuable lessons about the need for research to maintain standards and meet guidelines.
Students who had to edit their connections cheerfully did so as soon as they learned of a problem. They were explicitly concerned for younger LD kids who would be visiting their pages. They learned valuable lessons about the need for research to maintain standards and meet guidelines.
Deadlines were also a part of the learning experience of the original Whatever page. The idea was strong in December, but it got los t in the holidays followed by exams. Just before spring fever totaled it for the year, Mrs. Kirkpatrick put "The Whatever Page" on t he program for the school's first Tech Night in April. All that day the students worked hard to pull the whole thing together and get it loaded up on Nick's web site for its debut just a few hours later. The audience for the debut of "The Whatever Page" was again presented, this time to the Visiting Committee reviewing the school for accreditation. In June, e-mail was added to the page, and in September, 1997, the Guestbook, entitled "What's Up" was begun, and a new Frames version was completed.
[Photo shows Sharon Kirkpatrick, a Special Education Teacher at Hylton High School, Prince William County, Virginia who teaches and coaches the creators of "The Whatever Page".]
Sharon Kirkpatrick has announced that there is a lot more to come on the Whatever page, including student writings -- most of which require no more work than to be put in place when Nick and his team get a free moment during the whirlwind beginning of a new school year. She wants the kids to design a creative counter for the page, and has given the students a new deadline in October for the newest addition to be completed.
Sharon says she sees this as a never-ending project, and is wondering if Nick, who is now a Senior, will train to be the next Webmaster for the page.
The Whatever Page lives on two servers. The older version is on Erol's at http://w ww.erols.com/nickapal/whatever/. During the summer of 1997, "The Whatever Page" was moved onto the county server at http://www.pwcs.edu/techkids/whatever.htm . The newest "Frames" version is at http://www.pwcs.edu/techkids/frames3.htm.
The Whatever Page was begun as a page project for Academy One on Virginia's PEN which is found at http://www.pen.k12.va.us/Anthology/Pav/Academy1 . Academy One on Virginia's PEN is the first and oldest of the learning pavilions in the Electronic Academic Village, and can be found at brower at http://www.pen.k12.va.us/Anthology/Anthology.html. Virginia's PEN is the statewide education network sponsored by the Virginia Department of Education. The Whatever Page is the first and main attraction in the section for Special Students on Academy One on Virginia's PEN.
Readers are encouraged to visit, and drop a line or two to the students who created this page By LD Kids for All Special Ed Kids.