Tag Archives: ASK Programs

TWICE ASK: Alexander Jefferson

Today we have four classes participating in the TWICE ASK program with Tuskegee Airman Alexander Jefferson on his book Red Tail Captured, Red Tail Free. Wayne RESA hosted, bridged, and facilitated this videoconference for TWICE.

Some of the questions students have asked are:

  • What was the food like in prison?
  • What went through your mind as you ejected from your plane?
  • How was your mental and physical health affected by being in the war and being a prisoner?
  • What were some of the major battles that you participated in?
  • What did you do to help young people, other than teaching, after you got out the war?
  • Were you happy that you wrote about your experience as a Tuskegee Airman?
  • What was it like to experience segregation?
  • What was it like seeing war from above rather than on the ground?
  • If you had a chance to fly again would you? “Oh heck, yeah, in a minute!”
  • How did you feel when you had done so much for America and then you had to come back and fight for your rights?

Our World War II veterans are always adamant to tell students that the Holocaust did happen and don’t let anyone ever tell you that it didn’t happen?

This week we also had four days of ASK programs with author Janie Panagopoulos. There is still room in upcoming spring semester TWICE ASK programs.

WWII Veteran Reflects on Lest We Forget VC

Last week I wrote about our videoconferences celebrating veterans day. One of our World War II veterans, Ray Sreboth, wrote a little reflection on the experience. I obtained permission to share it here with you:

This morning, I was once more was involved in one of those two way interactive TV, living history sessions at the Berrien Regional Educational Service Center where I had served as Superintendent for some 14 years. Unlike previous gigs, we had one or two Vets on a panel, each, from WWII, Korea and Nam. Of course, that made me the senior member of the group. We interacted with kids in Texas, mostly from the Dallas School District and they were terrific! Grade levels varied from 4th grade, middle school to senior high school. There were a lots of Jr. ROTC members, boy and girls, Army and Marine Corps units.  They were the best prepared of all of the classes I seen in the three or four years.  The Lest We Forget Org has been participating in the program and I salute the students and their teachers: all of them did their homework. The pupils asked good questions, very clearly, were attentive and were taking notes. The ROTC Cadets stood at attention when asking a question and remained standing till the answers we forthcoming; they thanked us and took a seat. Each grade seemed to have distinctive and uniform clothing, i.e.; one group had red shirts, another blue etc.

Though I wasn’t feeling very well, I made an effort to show up and I told the Director, given the opportunity, I wanted to made two points. If nothing else this day: (1) That as these youngsters grow up they will run into Holocaust Deniers, perhaps even their college professors will be in that group and I wanted them to know I saw the prisoners who had been freed /released from Buchenwald — at least those who were alive — and I told the kids they should not believe who say those crimes against humanity never took place and that  I would never forget the sight of those living skeletons wearing what appeared to be pajamas made from flour sacks. And (2) that those entering college ROTC should understand, as should their parents, that the were not going to get a “free college education” in such a program, at they were not signing up for the Boy Scouts or Camp Fire Girls and that, when commissioned, they would probably be required to serve in the military and that they just might be put into harm’s way as a result of such service. I suggested that their parents should be fully aware of such circumstances as well.

I concluded my remarks at one session by mentioning how in my school days we observed Armistice Day, which marked the end of WWI and that it was a big deal in my day and I recited the poem In Flanders Fields, which we learned in about the 5th grade in the CPS. I did not tell them how at 11 AM on Nov. 11, we stood, in silence and Faced east for the boys who went west.

What a powerful experience for students, veterans, and videoconference coordinators!!

Lest We Forget: Veterans Day

To celebrate Veterans Day today, we have 4 sessions with panels of our World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. Students from MI and TX are interviewing our local veterans. Here are some of the questions students asked today:

  • Where did you sleep when you were in active duty?
  • Have you ever been back to where you fought?
  • What was the worst thing you ever ate?
  • How were you treated when you came home from the war?
  • What advice would you give a student who is being encouraged to go into the service?
  • Do you feel it was necessary to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima?
  • Was it hard to run with all the supplies on your back?
  • Who inspired you to serve our country?
  • Tell us about the medals on your uniform.
  • Would you really give your life for our country?
  • How would you compare the war you fought with the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan?

Lowe Elementary students taking notesThis is the first group that I have noticed actually used the new note taking sheet I created. It has four squares for locations (to look up on the map later), historical facts, stories, and service/patriotism. It was great to see the students taking notes!

09-11-11uniformsOne of the classes was a Jr. ROTC group, and our veterans really enjoyed seeing the uniforms!

Throughout the day, we had several different veterans participate:

9:30 EST / 8:30 CST
left-to-right: Ray Sreboth, WW II; Lynn Rayle, Vietnam; Jess Bowman, Vietnam
left-to-right: Ray Sreboth, WW II; Lynn Rayle, Vietnam; Jess Bowman, Vietnam

10:45 EST / 9:45 CST
left-to-right: Ray Sreboth, WW II; Don Sprung, WW II; Al Rosinski, Korea; Jess Bowman, Vietnam

12:30 EST / 11:30 CST and 1:45 EST / 12:45 CST
left-to-right: Arden Pridgeon, WW II; Al Rosinski, Korea; Edwin Heiden, Vietnam; Weldon Burden, Vietnam

We have additional interviews coming up, including December 7 with World War II. We’d love to have you join us!

Starting a Multipoint VC Professionally

I’ve been watching a lot of multipoint VCs lately, and so I thought I’d write today about what seems to work well. Most of these tips I’ve learned from COSI Columbus with their surgery and expert interviews or from Arnie Comer’s ASK and LAPS programs at Macomb ISD.

  1. Make sure all sites are muted in the waiting time before the session.
  2. Have a splash screen with a logo or graphic representing the program.
  3. Greet each site as they enter.
  4. Connect all sites 15 min early with 3-4 sites; 20-30 minutes early with 5 or more sites.

These simple rules can tighten up a multipoint meeting and make it much more professional.

Sometimes issues and problems can happen, but there are ways to address them:

  • If sites are unmuted, ask them to mute. If they don’t hear respond, the bridge operator can hard mute them on the bridge. Yes, I’m one of those control freak bridge operators! Silence at all costs! 🙂
  • If sites are not connected, call them on the phone to figure out what is wrong and trouble shoot/solve before the program starts.
  • If a participating (not presenting) site is late, start without them so that the other sites aren’t penalized.
  • If facilitators are at more than one site, have the side conversations before the classes join and stop when the other sites join in. Think of it as talking in front of live audience with a podium and mic. You wouldn’t have a side conversation by a live mic in front of a waiting audience if you were in person.
  • If there are any other problems, as the facilitator, unmute your microphone and address them as soon as possible.

What other tips would you add? Please comment!

ASK: The Wall

09-05-19vietnam1Today we have a panel of Vietnam veterans answering students’ questions. Students prepared using the ASK process. They read the book, The Wall, then journaled and wrote questions, then picked their best questions.

Last week we had high school students for the Lest We Forget program. The veterans commented this morning that middle school students haven’t learned to be politically correct yet and they find that refreshing.

  • 09-05-19vietnam2Did you ever lose hope? Answer: Never! If we got discouraged, we just worked harder.
  • What kind of conditions did you face on the battlefield?
  • If you could meet a Revolutionary War solider what would you tell him?
  • What was your rank in the army?
  • What was the scariest thing that happened while you were there?
  • If you could go back and do something different, what would you do?
  • What kinds of food did you eat?
  • 09-05-19vietnam3Do you have any tips of what to do in boot camp?
  • What kind of medals did you get?
  • What did you do for fun while you were in Vietnam?
  • What were your sleeping arrangements?
  • How long were you there and how long were you supposed to be there?

We connected to 10 schools and the veterans answered 84 09-05-19vietnam4 copyquestions in 4 sessions. Students from Allendale Middle School made a wonderful sign to thank the veterans at the end of the session. They really appreciated it!

This was our last ASK program for the school year. We’ve had a great selection of books, authors, and specialists for the students to interview. Now it’s time to plan for next year. For you, too! This is an easy ASK program to do, and builds a good relationship with your community. I encourage you to try it!

Favorite Author Quote

08-02-05trapped.jpgToday’s the first day of Read Around the Planet. I had 9 RAP connections and didn’t get to see any of them! They did all work, except for one that will be rescheduled due to circumstances at the partner schol.

I’ve been monitoring/watching our ASK programs with author Eric Walters on his book Trapped in Ice. I blogged it last year. We’ve had a great set of questions and stories today. My favorite quote today though is:

Did you hear about the new TV that’s out that is on 24 hours a day and you can pick whichever channel or show you want to watch. It has a keyboard and you can change the ending of the story. …. No I’m kidding. That doesn’t exist. But it does – it’s called writing and reading!

I paraphrased somewhat, but you get the gist. Eric has a strong message about writing and reading and learning about history. This is our second year partnering with York Region School District Board to share these programs, and we plan to continue for sure.

Interviewing Dr. Ben Carson

Ben CarsonToday we participated in an exciting interview with Dr. Ben Carson, Director of the Division of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins. Students read one or more of his books, and prepared questions based on their reading and scientific study. Some students prepared questions on the new movie Gifted Hands. The program was coordinated and sponsored by Polycom. Thank you to Polycom and Johns Hopkins for making this happen! We used the ASK format for this videoconference. We started with opening comments from Dr. Carson, rotated through the schools for the questions, and closed with final comments.

The last time we did this, I blogged some of the classes questions. Today, I’m going to share some of my favorite answers.

  • “The more rights you think you have, the easier it is for others to infringe upon them.”
  • On the importance of reading: “I realized the most successful people had accumulated a lot of knowledge.”
  • On poverty: “If you can control something, it’s nearly as bad as if something controls you.”
  • “You’re only disadvantaged if you think you are. If you have a normal brain and the ability to go to the library, you can learn anything you want to learn.”
  • “Most people live to be 80 years old. You spent the first 20 years preparing yourself. If you spend it preparing yourself, then you’ll reap the benefits. If you don’t, then you’ll reap the consequences.”
  • “There’s nothing wrong with failing, as long as you learn from it.”
  • One of the classes asked about the Carson Scholarship Fund which he explained during the session.

As usual, this program was a treat for the classes participating! We look forward to doing it again next year. We sure appreciate Dr. Carson giving up his lunch hour to talk with us!

ASK: When Donkeys Fly

Ginger HodgeToday we’re trying out a new author for an ASK program on her book When Donkeys Fly. We have a variety of 1st-3rd grade classes from Macomb and Berrien areas participating. Ginger Hodge lives in South Carolina, and we found a site for her to videoconference from at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Here’s a sample of the questions from today. In each session, the classes often ran out of questions. Ginger was good at short concise interesting answers.

  • Have you ever done any of the things that the girl in the book wanted to do?
  • Where did you get the idea for the book?
  • How long did it take to write the book?
  • How old is the dog on the cover?
  • What is your favorite page in the story & why?
  • Why did you put a donkey on every page?
  • What do you like about being an author?
  • We love your book. What made you want to become an author?
  • What should we do when someone tells us, “when donkeys fly”?
  • Do you have a special writing place?

At the end of the program, Ginger surprised the kids by singing a song for them based on the book. The kids loved it! We’ll definitely be scheduling more of these sessions!

Interviewing a Tuskegee Airman

Today we had a very special treat: an interview with Tuskegee Airman, Alexander Jefferson, and author of Red Tail Captured, Red Tail Free. This program was made possible because of coordination by Gail Desler, hosting by Wayne RESA, and bridging and facilitation by Berrien RESA. Thanks Gail, for sharing this opportunity with us!

Alexander Jefferson, Tuskegee AirmanHere is a sample of the students’ questions:

  • Why was your squad so successful?
  • Was it hard to leave home and go to war?
  • What was your experience when you came home?
  • What is your opinion of how the world turned out today?
  • I’m an aspiring pilot, and I want to know did you enjoy being a pilot?
  • What were the conditions like inside the plane?

Some of my favorite moments were:

  • In talking about segregation and civil rights: “We helped to change this country.”
  • One student mumbled their question and he gave her quite a little lecture and told her to speak up. It was pretty funny. All the kids laughed. You could tell he was a teacher for 35 years.
  • Partway through the videoconference, a conversation broke out with two people visiting at the school – Mrs. Edith Roberts, widow of George S. “Spanky” Roberts, and Mr. George Porter, Crew Chief at McClellan AFB. They talked about an invitation to Washington and I googled and found out that the Tuskegee Airmen got a special invitation to the inauguration. Mrs. Roberts didn’t get an invitation though, and she mentioned how once their airmen have passed on, people forget about them. I’m thinking though, that it would be so fascinating to hear their side of the stories.

The interview was incredible, and I think we’ll probably be scheduling a TWICE ASK program with Mr. Jefferson sometime soon. In the meantime, check out the streaming recording.

Negative Things About Using VC in the Classroom

Yesterday we began this little journey of examining results from a little survey I did last May. Review the previous post for more information on the survey.

Today, let’s look at the companion question:

Please identify three to five negative things about using videoconferencing in your classroom.

Negative Things About Using VC in the Classroom

What words jump out at you this time? TIME! What ways are time challenging for videoconferencing?

  • Time zones
  • Time to schedule a videoconference
  • Time to prepare the students (and yourself) for a videoconference
  • Time to get all the classes at the level/grade to participate
  • What else can you think of?

Scheduling and technical problems stand out in this list too. While these teachers tend to be in my schools with better bandwidth and infrastructure, they still have done enough VCs to run into glitches.

I’ll share a couple full answers with you. This one is from Lacy Payne, F.C.Reed Middle School, in Bridgman, Michigan, (RUS grant school) whose students have done ASK programs, MysteryQuest, The Cleveland Museum of Art (to name a few), and has also participated in the Jazz workshop.

I have a couple of experiences where I had to reschedule because of technology problems, scheduling problems sometimes occur, time availability, and cost. I have two sessions of classes I teach and in order to get them both in I have to have them at the same time which creates a large number of students upwards of 50-60 kids. If money wasn’t an issue it would be much easier to do one conference per class.

From Peggy Clore, Coloma Middle School, (RUS grant school) 6th/7th grade language arts teacher:

1) Preparation takes time out of other lessons I’ve planned, so I have to make sure I’m covering as many of the GLCE’s as I can. Editor’s note: GLCEs are Michigan’s Grade Level Content Expectations.
2) Snow days cancel programs:)
3) Hearing may be difficult due to the other classes’ facilities.

And of course, this one is my favorite answer from a teacher who preferred to be anonymous in the survey results.

I don’t consider any part to be a negative worth griping about. If forced to nit-pick, the time frame is sometimes out of classwork sequence.

Are these negative things a barrier for these teachers? Read yesterday’s post!

So, please comment – either with your own list of negative things about using VC in the classroom, or with your own interpretation of the data represented above, or your own ideas of how to address these challenges.