Tag Archives: Special Events

Megaconference, Nov. 8, 2007

Mark your calendar for Megaconference on November 8, 2007. The date was just sent out yesterday on the Megaconference listserv. This is the higher education, adult facilitated, original Megaconference that Megaconference Jr. (student facilitated) is modeled after. If you haven’t experienced a Megaconference, it’s an incredible experience.

Here are a few good strategies for bringing a Megaconference to your school.

  • Have the event running in a central location so that classes can pop in and out.
  • Print the schedule and share with teachers. However, realize that Megaconference is live and sometimes it gets off schedule a bit. So be flexible!
  • Encourage students to study and celebrate the geography of the event. Have them map out the participants list. Keep a world map close to the videoconference system so students can look up the locations represented by the presentations.

Anyone else have some good strategies for making a Megaconference a successful learning event in your school?

The Ultimate Gift Movie Interview

Today we have a special videoconference on the book and movie The Ultimate Gift, organized and sponsored by Polycom. Students from California, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Texas interviewed the author, Jim Stovall; the screen writer Cheryl McKay; and the lead actor, Drew Fuller. Macomb ISD provided the bridging and facilitation. Thank you for Jim Wenzloff, Macomb ISD, and Elaine Shuck, Polycom for the behind the scenes work that made this event possible.

The program started with introductions from the panel, and then students took turns asking questions. Here are some of them.

  • For Drew: Did you find it difficult to play the part of Jason in the movie?
  • For Jim: What impact has this movie had on your life?
  • For Jim: What was it like for you to be in the movie?
  • For Cheryl: Did you change any parts of the story and why?
  • For Cheryl: Did you find that you emphasized some gifts more than others?
  • For Jim: Did you get to have any say over which actors would be in the movie?
  • For Drew: Which was the most difficult scene to act?
  • For Cheryl: Was it hard to transition from the book to the movie?
  • For Jim: Are any of the scenes in the book things that happened to you in your life?
  • For Cheryl: What made you want to add characters that weren’t in the book?
  • For Drew: What inspired you to be an actor at such a young age?
  • For Jim: Since you are blind, do you find it hard to not be able to see the movie?
  • For Jim & Cheryl: Which parts do you wish you could have changed in the movie and which parts do you think changed for the best?
  • For Drew: What was it like playing Jason and how do you relate to the character?
  • For Jim: Did they use any actual quotes from the book in the movie?
  • For Drew: If you were actually in Jason’s position, what would you do with the inheritance?
  • For Drew: Do you think you’ve been impacted by the 12 gifts and changed in any way?

Students learned about the process of writing a book, writing a script based on the book, and then making it into a movie. They learned about how the book impacted the lives of each panelist. One interesting note is that in the credits at the end of the movie, there are little clips that show all 12 of the gifts from the book and how they were woven into the movie.

This event was live streamed and is now archived on the Polycom RSS 2000 we have on loan for these events. You can access it at streaming.bcisd.org; login (polycom) and password (special).

Interviewing Congressman Fred Upton

This morning Coloma Jr. High, Marcellus Middle School, New Buffalo High School, River Valley High School, Ross Beatty High School, and St. Joseph High School participated in an interview with Congressman Fred Upton. Students had prepared questions ahead of time.

The discussion covered a myriad of topics including stem cell research, global warming, illegal immigration which affects our congressional district with farms depending on migrant workers, what its like to be in a minority in congress, social security, gas prices and the likelihood of a draft coming back.

Two questions really caught my attention:

  • As a high school student I’ve noticed more students who don’t value their education. What would you say to them?
  • We spend a lot of time taking very long tests. Some kids are not good test takers, but they know the material. What can we do about this problem?

We used the Polycom RSS to record this session and you can watch the streaming if you wish. This will allow the schools that weren’t able to participate the ability to still benefit from the interview.

Thank you to all the coordinators and especially Congressman Fred Upton and his staff for making this another successful videoconference!

Interviewing Dr. Ben Carson

Today we participated in an exciting interview with Dr. Ben Carson, Director of the Division of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins. Students read his book, Gifted Hands, and prepared questions based on their reading and scientific study. Nine classes from Florida, Michigan, New York, South Dakota and Texas were interactive and many others participated via streaming video. 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. Here is a sampling of some of the questions.

  • Do you think your life would have been the same if your mother would have left instead of your father?
  • What is your stance on stem cell research?
  • Knowing what you know now, what would you do differently in school?
  • How do you balance your time between being doctor, author, husband and father?
  • What advice do you have for students who want to follow their dreams?

The students had a great discussion with Dr. Carson and we were privileged to spend some time with him over his lunch hour.

We had a really unique site connected, AE21, a school made up of videoconference sites all over the U.S. One of their questions came from Florida and one from Alabama. It was neat for everyone connected to see how their class works.

Dr. Carson had a great message for the students on topics such as not allowing other people’s opinions to dictate your life, investing in your own education and learning, and preparing yourself to contribute to society. Thanks to everyone who made this happen!

ASK Jim Stovall Training

Yesterday evening we had the training for the ASK Ultimate Gift Videoconference coming up in March. This is “ASK Deluxe” with the ASK process plus blogging. You can read about past ASK Ultimate Gift programs and view the December 14 session.

The training has been archived on the Polycom RSS (on loan to BCISD from Polycom for events like this one).

Last Thoughts for 2006

This is my last post for 2006. It’s been a great year and thanks to everyone who has read and commented, and especially thanks to those of you who have started blogging about VC too. I appreciate the opportunity to learn from you!

Polycom RSS 2000
If you missed the ASK: Jim Stovall streaming today, review my blog entry on that and login to view the archive. The streaming was really easy to do. I just logged into the admin side of the RSS, dialed out to Macomb ISD’s bridge with live streaming checked, and voila it was up and running. Quality looked great from my end at least. I hope some of you had a chance to try it out. Please leave a comment on how the streaming and/or archive works for you.

1.7.07 Update. Added after reading The Weblog Handbook. The RSS 2000 mentioned is on loan to Berrien County ISD from Polycom to support Polycom Special Events.

Read Around the Planet
I wanted to say a few words about Read Around the Planet. The teacher registration has been extended to January 19, and a new quick overview of the two ways to enter match requests has been posted online.

If you haven’t noticed already, RAP is a huge project and growing very fast. The system seems complicated and while we are working on that, it’s because the project is complicated. It’s very difficult to meeting the needs of all the ways that connections and coordination happens throughout the areas participating in the project. Our programmers mutter that it’s like trying to bring order to chaos and not easy to do.

Thankfully, the system allows everyone to see their buildings and match requests (if everything is entered correctly! :>), which we didn’t have possible before. In addition, this is the first year that the matching will be done by computer. It’s about time! Last year it took me three weeks to match 1000 requests by hand.

So, I know things are pretty bumpy this year, and I thank everyone who has been so patient. Hang in there! We will make it through yet another year of this amazing project. If you have questions, you can send them to Sue Porter, read@remc11.k12.mi.us. She’s off Dec. 21 through Jan. 2, but otherwise can answer your questions.

Merry Christmas
So now I’m off til January 8. Tonight I’m decorating a gingerbread house (made from scratch) with a friend and her two daughters. When I come back in January I may have a special treat of pictures to share with you too. Enjoy your holidays and be sure to rest and spend quality time with family and friends – AWAY from technology! 🙂

Live VC with a Court Reporter

This morning we are excited to be connecting to the St. Louis County Courthouse in St. Louis, MO. Students from our Niles High School and Ottawa ISD Careerline Tech Center are learning about the career of court reporter.

The program began with a simulation of a guilty plea, showing what each role is and what things are said. If the classes had transcribing machines, they would have been encouraged to transcribe the event. But they didn’t, so today they are just listening. We heard from two court reporters, a bailiff, and a judge.

Next the judge explained carefully and clearly what the court reporters do and how they fit into the courtroom. Then the students asked questions of the bailiff and the judge before they had to leave. The remainder of the time was spent asking questions of the two court reporters.

This program was coordinated by Cooperating School Districts and Tim Gore and Jim Sturm, who brought us the Lewis & Clark VCs the last few years. Our career tech classes want to see more than just a talking head in an expert career interview, and so this is the first of several programs we’ve requested CSD coordinate for us and others. Tim and Jim are great at facilitating VCs, and have good ideas of what students can see onsite in various career settings. So watch the listservs so you can sign up for the next ones! The sessions are $150 per interactive site (so far).

Dec. 7 Interviewing WW II Veterans

Today we had a full day of interviewing our World War II Veterans in remembrance of Pearl Harbor Day. Several local history classes, as well as classes from Illinois and New Hampshire participated in the sessions. You can read more about the questions in my blog entry about last year’s VC.

This time I want to say a few words about running these kinds of events.

First, I do these for my local schools (that’s my job of course!). But if I can’t fill them locally I offer them free to the rest of you. This year I turned away so many. So, here’s what I think. It’s time for more schools and educational service agencies to be producers of content and not just receivers. And the good ideas should be copied! Like this idea. Take it and do it yourself!

I’m sure you have local veterans who would love to participate in such an event. One of the students today asked the veterans how they felt coming home. The answer included this: “Programs like this are still a welcome home and make us feel appreciated.” They long to tell their stories and to share their experience with younger students. It makes them proud and honored to see students asking quality questions and thinking carefully about World War II before talking to them.

So take the plunge! If you have access to a bridge to connect several schools together and share the incredible value of live interviews with our treasured veterans, do it! I depend on one of our veterans to coordinate, call the veterans, remind them to come, etc. They appreciate the opportunity and help me make it happen. You can do it too!