Monthly Archives: December 2007
Yesterday “Judge” Paul Steensland of the St. Louis County Library “Courts” presided over Trial By Wire, our mock trial over videoconference. We had three connecting schools- Parkway West High (MO), Hermitage High (PA), and Brocton High (NY). Each site had a role in the case- prosecution, defense and jury. Using the facts from a real Missouri case, the prosecution had to decide how to try the case (what to charge the defendant with), the defense had to counter that case, and the jury listened to the proceedings. In the real case, the defendant was charged with second degree murder, however, in the mock trial, the defendant was charged with voluntary manslaughter. The students did not know the outcome of the real trial, however. Everyone listened as the jury deliberated- it is not required with this program that the jury come back with a verdict, necessarily- and Paul said it was interesting, because initially, the jury was pretty much split, then through their discussions, the opinion shifted to only one person who felt the defendant was guilty.
I wanted to share some feedback we got on yesterday’s Trial By Wire videoconference:
“I wanted to thank you both for doing this Trial by Wire. I thought all the parties involved did a great job, and I was quite pleased with my two young men’s presentation of their argument.”
We have the videoconferences lined up for METC- look for the Baseball Hall of Fame to do a couple, the Discovery Center of Springfield to also do two, and the Challenger Learning Center (West Virginia) to do an e-Mission. Diane Tinucci and Bill Stewart from the Rockwood School District will conduct “Videoconferencing 101.”
We’re really excited that the content providers will be doing actual programs, so teachers come prepared to participate in a lesson! Diane and Bill started videoconferencing last school year (after Diane took 123 VC! Jazzing Up Your Curriculum with Videoconferencing) and haven’t looked back- they’ll share great insights. To register on-line for the 2008 Midwest Education Technology Conference, visit www.csd.org.
At 4 p.m. CST on January 15th we have our next Mental Health Series videoconference- Teaching Emotional Literacy Through Empathy. Lynne Lang from BJC will be back to discuss the positive impact- on all ages- of lessons on empathy. You will learn strategies for teaching empathy in your classroom and in handling disciplinary issues. New Links members, this videoconference is free to you; for non-members, there is a $50/site fee. No limit to participants at each site. Interested? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org by January 11 to sign up.
Today I drove to Lafayette High School and watched a class participate in a video- conference- something I’ve only done over videoconference before. It was pretty cool- for a couple of reasons. It was neat to be in the room with the students, as they… kind of thawed out as the time progressed. They clearly weren’t sure what to make of the whole situation. However, they attentively listened to Rob Warden speak about wrongful convictions. Rob Warden is the Executive Director of the Center on Wrongful Convictions, out of Northwestern Law School. What Rob had to say was really fascinating. He talked about how and why people confess to crimes they didn’t commit- and how it happens more often than we’d like. (The students at Lafayette had recently read a book about a teenager falsely confessing to a crime he didn’t commit).
Rob Warden talked about the “blackout” method- where suspects are convinced (by law enforcement, during interrogation) that they must have blocked out the memory of committing the actual crime. Rob emphasized, too, that he didn’t think people went into law enforcement or criminal justice just to convict people of crimes they didn’t necessarily commit- he felt that sometimes law enforcement concentrates so hard on solving the crime, they can zero in on someone who seems to be a good suspect. They’ll ask the suspect to describe how (s)he would have committed the crime, which in turn can convince a suspect that (s)he really must have had a blackout about it. He also talked about how the mentally ill can fall victim to being falsely convicted of a crime, and how sometimes they come right out and confess to a crime they could not have possibly committed. Rob fielded questions from the students about being found not guilty vs. innocence; how the center originated and goes about helping those who contact it; and how the death penalty makes the need to right wrongful convictions all the more pressing. It was really very interesting.