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The Connected Classroom

Information on and from EducationPlus' Learning Division

Monthly Archives: February 2008

 Visit with Author/Illustrator Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw
A lazy eye can have its advantages—just ask Jenny Sue on May 9!
I’ll tell you more about it next week….!

This is an international videoconference collaboration request that has come from one of my middle schools.  I love the idea!  I hope Wydown is able to find a partner school…

Time – 8:30-10:00am CDT  /  Dates – Week of March 24, 2008 – Available April 14-28, 2008
‘I would like to speak with students in France about racism today – I’m thinking specifically against North Africans, who immigrate to France. Since the 7th graders are wrapping up their study of the Holocaust & WWII, I want to show them the movie Au revoir les enfants, which is about the French resistance, and then have a discussion with a school about the current status of racism in France.

Les élèves de Wydown Middle School à St. Louis, Missouri, cherchent un collège en France avec qui on peut parler du racisme qui existe en France aujourd’hui. Nous avons fait une unité du Holocauste et les juifs en France, et maintenant on veut parler avec les élèves français au sujet du racisme, spécifiquement contre les nord-africains. Les élèves américains ont 13 ans.

I’d like to do 2, 45-min conferences starting at 8:30am CDT and lasting until 10am CDT: Nous voudrions deux vidéoconférences qui commencent à huit heures trente (8h30) et qui durent 45 minutes (la deuximeme va commencer à 9h15).’

Wydown Middle School
6500 Wydown Blvd.
Clayton, Missouri 63105

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Butterfly Marionette About a year ago, I wrote about how dinosaurs were all the rage with videoconference requests. This year, we have butterflies.  Butterflies each spring always seem to be popular, but this year- wooo! My inbox is blowing up with requests for the Center of Puppetry Arts‘ videoconference on butterflies.  Teachers who have never done a videoconference before are e-mailing me!  It’s really great.  Another bonus: the Center for Puppetry Arts puts on excellent programs. What a great way to start off videoconferencing in your classroom.  The center provides a learning guide online, and gives the teacher a list of materials needed for the program beforehand. Very interactive, very fun! …and they book up fast!

Some details about the v/c:

GRADE: K-2nd     PUPPET: Butterfly Marionette     PROGRAM LENGTH: 45-50 minutes

PROGRAM DESCRIPTION: Each student will construct a Butterfly Marionette while participating in learning activities about the lifecycle of the butterfly, what makes a butterfly an insect, and coloring and camouflage. Video clips and photographs of the different stages in the life of a butterfly are included. This is a great arts and science lesson all in one! 

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Thanks to all who read the Virtual Learning Center’s blog.  Next to the posts on our blog are lists (widgets, actually)- ever checked them out? All the links allow visitors of The Wired Classroom to go to other blogs & websites out there dedicated to integrating technology into the classroom. 

Here’s a breakdown:

“Blogroll”: various educational blogs are listed- from all over the world- just click on the name to go the link

“Links”: websites dedicated to educators & technology

“Categories”: what we place each post under- it can be more than 1 category; often, I categorize New Links to New Learning info as ‘videoconferencing’ and ‘collaboration’ and ‘VLC Programs.’

“Archives”: click on each month/year to see the posts that were placed on the blog during that month

“Feeds”: click around- for example, you’ll see all the comments people have made about The Wired  Classroom posts

just view only left!

l8r_hmpg.jpg myracle-lauren-photo.jpg 13cover.jpg twelve.jpg

New York Times best-selling author Lauren Myracle will join three connecting middle schools live from Cooperating School Districts for a 1 hour videoconference March 31 @ 11 a.m. CT. This is a free event!  Teachers, if you’d like to sign up for a slot, please let me know by March 21, 2008.  Please limit group size to no more than 30 students at your site.  During the videoconference, Lauren will answer student questions about writing: coming up with characters, her inspirations, and the steps to becoming a published author. 

Lauren is the author of several novels, including L8R G8R, ttyl, Kissing Kate, Eleven, Twelve, and Thirteen.   L8R G8R and Thirteen are her most recently published books.  According to her website, Lauren’s novels often focus on issues of popularity and social acceptance; this interactive author visit videoconference is aimed toward eighth graders.  

For more on Lauren and her books, visit:
Questions? Don’t hesitate to contact us!

Also Scheduled:
Sunday, March 30 at 2 p.m. ~ public reading & book signing at:
            The St. Louis County Library (Headquarters)
            1640 S. Lindbergh Boulevard
            St. Louis, Missouri 63131   (phone: 314-994-3300) 

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mckissack-books.jpgPatricia McKissack connected to Howitt Middle School in Farmingdale, New York today for her first videoconference with the participating students.  Their area of focus for this series: Historical Fiction/ Biography Writing.  This is actually the second time Pat has connected to Howitt Middle; the first videoconference was with the teacher to discuss expectations- on both ends.  In this second videoconference in the series, Patricia tells the students about herself, her books, and gives them a writing assignment to be completed by March 12, the last connection.  During the third and final videoconference, students will share their written work with Pat and get her input on the stories.

Today, Pat introduced herself to the students, which included showing them a table covered with some of her books (“some” of her books covered the entire table top- she is the author of over 100 books).  Pat also spoke about being a writer, and some of the subjects of her books, such as Frederick Douglass. Using the document camera, she placed one of her books, Frederick Douglass: Leader Against Slavery on it to show the students a photo of the famous African American abolitionist. Pat has quite a bit experience writing biographies; she (sometimes with her husband, Fred) has written biographies on Satchel Paige, Zora Neale Hurston and Langston Hughes, among others. Historical Fiction by Pat includes Christmas in the Big House, Christmas in the Quarters, and A Picture of Freedom: The Diary of Clotee, a Slave Girl.

Pat said the videoconference went very well and the students asked great questions.

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Susan Vreeland connected with three schools today- Ritenour High in Missouri, St. Joseph High in Michigan, and Jefferson High in Texas.  Today was the first day of her writing tour; she will be on the road until April 12 discussing her new novel, Luncheon of the Boating Party.

Students asked Susan questions about her writing, her characters, her research… one student asked Susan how she “got her writing noticed.” The answer? Writing well, revising, and improving her work by taking criticism. She started out in magazines and literary journals, then worked into novels. Susan also talked about having “Huckleberry moments”- imaging what it is like to be another person- in a different culture, in a different time- and how it is important (in writing).

Other questions answered: Susan chooses the paintings that are featured in her novels by selecting artists and works that have substance- that give her something to write about! Sometimes Susan puts a little of herself into her characters- in traits or in actions. Susan was a high school English teacher for 30 (“three zero”) years- that helped make ends meet (she started writing about 20 years into teaching); she was on her third novel when she quit teaching. 

What’s coming up? Perhaps a novel on the Civil War, or a book about the relationship between artists and their models… for tonight, however, she will be at the St. Louis County Library headquarters.

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So many subjects, so little time! I thought I’d share just some of the videoconferences New Links members have been doing the last few weeks (when the snow and ice haven’t kept kids out of class) and what they will be doing in the upcoming weeks~

Elementary: FrenchJody FeldmanMagnets,  Minerals
Middle School: Patricia McKissackGNGLest We Forget…, MysteryQuest
High School: IditarodHolocaustSusan Vreeland, ACT prep

… there will be more to come! Teachers, sign-up with me for any videoconferences you are interested in doing!

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Sign up now if you are interested!

Join RoundTrips live from Hale Arena in Kansas City, Missouri and be part of the action as teams from across the Midwest compete in the  2nd annual Kansas City FIRST Robotics Regional Competition.  During the free videoconference your students (grades 7-12) will interact with both competing student engineers and professional engineers.  Go live to the pits as students test and tweak their robots; ask questions about designing and building the machines, what’s working and what’s not.  Go live to the field of competition and see the robots in action;  watch how the robots are accomplishing their tasks, which strategies and designs work best.  Your students will also meet engineers working in the field and see other unique applications of robots.  Your students will have the chance to ask engineers questions about their career, the design and creation of their robots, the challenges and opportunities available as an engineer.  Are your students working on a robotics project of their own?  Ask the engineer for advice, feedback, and ideas. Videoconference Dates:  March 6, 2008 at 10:30 to 11:30 a.m., Noon to 1:00 p.m., and 2 to 3 p.m. CST and March 7, 2008 at 10 to 11 a.m., and 1 to 2 p.m. CST. (Each program will be offered live via videoconference, webstreaming, and broadcast programming).

1.  To view as a Videoconference School—Interactive videoconference space for the program is limited to three schools per show.  These students will have face-to-face interaction with the competitors and engineers at the FIRST Robotics competition.  “View only” videoconference space is also available, and these students will be able to e-mail questions during the program. To enroll as a videoconference school (interactive or view only), contact Rebecca Morrison at Cooperating School Districts of St. Louis at no later than March 1.  Once enrolled, teachers will receive the program’s preparatory and evaluation materials.  2.  To view via the Internet—Viewing via the web is unlimited but enrollment is necessary to receive the program’s preparatory and evaluation materials.  To watch the program live via the web, surf your computer to on the program day. Students viewing can e-mail questions during the program to   To enroll your students for web viewing, once again contact Tim Gore at RoundTrips at or by calling 314-773-6934.  Once enrolled, teachers will receive the program’s preparatory and evaluation materials.  Since many schools limit streaming video through their firewalls, we recommend testing your ability to view the stream prior to the program by watching one of RoundTrips’ archived programs at  We recommend viewing the program live on 1 computer only and connecting that computer to a television or digital projector for classroom viewing.  Should you have questions about viewing this way, please contact us. To see even more of the FIRST Robotics excitement online you can watch live competition all day March 7 and  March 8 via webstream at:   3.  To view via Cable Television—Some programs will be shown live in the St. Louis metropolitan area on CSD-TV, channel 22.  Students viewing in this way can e-mail their questions during the program to  Viewing via cable television is unlimited but enrollment is necessary to receive the program’s preparatory and evaluation materials.  To enroll your students for web or TV viewing, contact Tim Gore at RoundTrips at or by calling 314-773-6934.  Once enrolled, teachers will receive the program’s preparatory and evaluation materials. The following programs will air live on 22:  March 6 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. and 2 to 3 p.m. and March 7 10 to 11a.m. and 1 to 2 p.m. [ More details about FIRST Robotics can be found at  Learn more about Missouri Research and Education Network (MOREnet) at and find out about RoundTrips at]

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St. Louis area educators, don’t miss a chance to take advantage of the Virtual Learning Center’s professional development! For a complete course listing or to register for these tele classes, go to

PODCASTING MOVED TO JUNE 16 from 9-4 pm Empowering Students with Podcasting / March 5 & 6, 4-7pm; $109 CSD member; $169 non-member 

Come find out what all the talk is about! You don’t have to own an iPod or even a MP3 player to create and listen to your own podcasts. Learn how to record digital audio broadcasts, edit them and upload them to the web. Teachers can use this new technology to create podcasts of their lectures and class discussions so that students can listen to them again for reinforcement, or, students who were absent can catch up on work missed. Participants will also create lessons for their students that require them to create their own radio broadcasts, performances, interviews and more. Learn how this using this tool in the classroom can help auditory learners and motivate reluctant learners. Walk away with your own original podcast! 


Moodle Basics: Using a Course Management System to Increase Teacher-Student Connections / March 13, 9am-12pm OR  March 17, 4-7 pm; $59 CSD member, $89 non-member 

Heard of Moodle, but don’t have a clue what it’s all about? This workshop is for you! Come find out what this powerful course management system is, how to use it as the one stop website for your class, and how to get your own for free. Participants will have an opportunity to see how other teachers are using Moodle, and try their hands at setting up various features of this powerful course management open source software. This is for beginners with no prior knowledge of Moodle.

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