Saturday, August 05, 2006

And All That Jazz

I just finished facilitating the 5 day videoconferencing training, 123VC Jazzing Up Your Curriculum with Videoconferencing. It was quite a training. Over the course of 5 days, a group of 16 teachers and myself submerged ourselves in videoconferencing activities. Almost the entire workshop was a videoconference either with 4 or 8 different schools collaborating. As luck would have it New York was in the grip of a record breaking heatwave. With the temperatures hovering at 100 degrees and the actual feel good temperature at 115 power saving became a real issue. The air conditioning barely worked. The internet stopped working along with the elevators. So, our working conditions were rough but the workshop was so engaging that my group of "sweet 16" endured.

Most of the mornings were simulation activities of already successful collaborations. We had fun doing math in "Math Marvels". We had a great time doing MysteryQuest Beaches. Based on the MysteryQuest model. The ASK program was a moving morning of listening to a beautiful reading of The Wall and then reflecting on this touching children's picture book. We also had time to interview a Vietnam Veteran, Don Alsbro. After lunch each day we listened to speakers discuss specific videoconferencing programs. I even got a chance to present our wonderful Poetry Slam Program. I enjoyed hearing David Macquart talk about his Global Nomad Group. I know I would love to be involved with one of their programs this year. Videoconferencing provides such a wonderful opportunity for students to have a real dialogue and with the many global issues effecting our world today this type of communication is more important than ever.

Every afternoon our teachers broke into small groups to work with their colleagues in Texas on a project they designed for their classes. These projects were complete with a lesson plan with pre- and post-videoconferencing activities as well as the actual videoconference itself. There was also a timeline, an advertisement for participation and resources included. They did this collaboratively posting their information in a wiki. When they left the workshop Friday afternoon for some much deserved airconditioning, rest and relaxation they had a videoconferencing project in hand and partner(s) for the coming school year. I look forward to the fruition of these projects. The six projects my groups helped to develop touched a variety of content areas and grades. " A Walk Across America" is a 2nd grade Social Studies project about community. "It's up to you to preserve your world!" a 5th grade science project, "Songs of the 80's" a computer technology and language arts project.
"Start Spreading the News" an 8th grade broadcast journalism program. "Caldecott Decades" an elementary grades library project and "Geometry Jeopardy" a Math program for 3rd-5th graders. I'm looking forward to blogging about these programs in the future. Today, I'm happy to be starting my summer vacation. Oh, and the temperature outside mid 80's, low humidity. Go figure.