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The Connected Classroom

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Monthly Archives: October 2007

Tony Tasset workJim and Tim at RoundTrips have a new Inside the Artist’s Studio videoconference entitled  All Things Must Pass with artist Tony Tasset.  Scheduled for November 14, there are two times the interactive videoconference is taking place- 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. CST. Tony will be live at Laumeier Sculpture Park in St. Louis County talking about his work.  Tony lives and works in Chicago, but an exhibit of his work, All Things Must Pass, is currently at the sculpture park.This videoconference is aimed for high school students; if you are interested in participating, let CSD know by Friday November 9th. MOREnet at the University of Missouri is bridging the event, so all participants need to be tested and validated with MOREnet.  

According to the exhibit description:  “From October 6, 2007 through January 13, 2008, Laumeier Sculpture Park will present an important solo museum exhibition by internationally-recognized artist Tony Tasset.  All Things Must Pass  will fill Laumeier’s indoor galleries and extend to our outdoor galleries with a new, commissioned, monumental outdoor sculpture.  The exhibition, the first to showcase Tasset’s work in St. Louis, will include selected works from the past decade, recent work, and new work.  A broad range of media typical of Tasset’s practice—video, photography, and a variety of approaches to sculpture will be featured.   Tasset frequently uses his environment, his family and himself as subject and inspiration.  His work, employing wisdom and wit, continuously contends with the trappings of modernism, postmodern theory, pop culture, and the human emotions associated with love, loss, frailty and beauty.  In recent work he has turned to the dual nature of his own existence—an urban artist/public figure as well as a suburban-father-with-garden.  Using this deeply personal source material, he creates objects and images that are at once ironic, earnest, and decidedly humanistic.  Tasset describes his work as an exploration of the “conflicts of the ego and the difficulty in expressing certain sentiments in a postmodern environment where truth is relative, and in a culture of consumption where emotion is a commodity.””

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Technology is a tool that excites and engages students to learn.


Save the date: February 4-6, 2008

Registration began October 1, 2007

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Trial by Wire (December 18 from 9-11:30 a.m. CT.) allows several locations to try a murder case together.  This project entails research by the students and their participation in a videoconference mock trial for 90 minutes.  They will be simulating a court trial (taken from an actual state of Missouri court case).  We need three classes from different schools to participate.  One will act as the prosecution, one will be the defense, and one will be the jury. Right now, CSD has a school for the prosecution, but still needs one school for the defense and one school to be the jury.  In preparation for the trial, students playing the roles of prosecution and defense will be given the evidence taken from the actual case, various Internet sites, and copies of pages out of law books to help them prepare their arguments. The students will not know the case was actually tried before a jury until afterwards.  The jury will not see the evidence before the trial. Both sides will present their evidence to the jury and to the judge, who will be played by Paul Steensland, Reference Librarian for the St. Louis County Library, via videoconference. No depositions will be taken, and no witnesses will be called. The focus of this project will be on research and analysis of the law.  Paul will be available, beforehand, as a resource for the students as they explore their roles by email and phone.  All research on the required reading list can be obtained on-line or will be mailed to the teachers beforehand. This program is really great. If you are interested, contact Martha at

Note- Martha has a full line up now for December 18: Brockton NY, Parkway West in St. Louis, and Hickory High in Pennsylvania.  If you think Trial By Wire is something your class is interested in, and want to set up a date to do a mock trial, contact Martha.

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Last night was MOREnet’s 3rd Internet Safety Night.  Here at CSD, we had 20 people in attendance- parents, law enforcement, educators.  CSD was one of over 40 sites sites connecting via videoconference. Though it was not an interactive program (due to the number of sites connected), it was very informative.

The evening started with a message from Missouri Governor Matt Blunt.  Randy Raw from MOREnet moderated the event, and introduced the panel speakers. Each person took a few minutes to introduced his/herself, and talk about why they are passionate about Internet Safety. For me, the most interesting story told was from Miss Missouri, Lindsay Casamaer, who was the victim of a cyberstalker a few years ago. She turned to the police for help as soon as she started to get threatening, graphic e-mails- that turned out to be from a female college classmate. A police detective and forensic investigator who was here at CSD said it was very important, if something like that happened to you, to save the e-mail; print it, keep it, but not to forward it, because  critical forensic information can be lost in the transfer.

Chris Pickering was the keynote speaker last night- Chris works for the Missouri Attorney General’s office as a Chief Investigator. He spoke for 30 minutes, but you could tell he wanted to talk more- he had a lot of information.  He also offered a good analogy for parents- if you are taking your children to the beach, you are going to make sure they know how to swim. Furthermore, you are still going to watch them very closely when they are in the water- the same should be done with Internet safety.  You must teach your children how to use the Internet safely, and to watch them when they are on-line, anyway.  You have to keep them away from the sharks.

We learned from the detective and FBI agent that if you suspect your child has been targeted by an on-line predator, you can go to and report it. It is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week- someone will read your tip and pass it along to the appropriate authority.

One more thing that I thought was a good suggestion came from Miss Missouri- she recommended you ask your children who their “friends” are (on-line).  Is the friend a child is chatting with someone he has known since kindergarten and lives down the street, or is this friend a person he has met only a few weeks ago in a chat room? It makes a difference. Ask your kids.

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As I listen to MOREnet’s Internet Safety Night’s keynote, I’m learning some interesting information.  Kids spend an average of two and a half hours a day on-line-  just about the same amount of time between the end of the school day and when parents get home from work… something to think about.  Visit these websites to learn more about Internet Safety:  (several URLs listed),

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edwardsmall.gifYesterday, high school students from two schools in St. Louis, MO, a school in Michigan, and a school in Texas had an opportunity to meet and visit with Pulitzer Prize winning author, Edward P. Jones via videoconference. His award winning novel, The Known World, looks at the lives of African American slave holders before the Civil War. His latest book, All Aunt Hagar’s Children, is a collection of short stories about African Americans living in Washington, DC throughout the 20th century. Mr. Jones, widely respected for his ability to provide readers meaningful glimpses into the lives of memorable, unique characters, focuses his stories in one location, thereby giving readers a creative view of the history and changing culture of the community.

The videoconference was broadcast from CSD, and we were able to provide students with this opportunity through our partnership with the St. Louis County Library, since he was scheduled to speak and sign books there during an evening program. Students from Ladue Horton Watkins and Lafayette High Schools in St. Louis, and St. Joseph High School in St. Joseph, Michigan, and Kopperl High in Kopperl, Texas participated. The format was just a basic Q & A with the author, and we did a roll call, going from school to school, in turn. The students were well prepared and asked terrific questions. The author said afterward that he had had a great time and enjoyed talking to the group. In fact, later that evening, while taking questions from the adult group at the library, he referenced the students’ questions that he answered during the afternoon.

Of course, the inevitable question came up from the students (whereas adults rarely ask), “How much money can you make as an author?” The answer? Not much, unless you hit it big or win the Pulitzer. Mr. Jones said he had been given the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, and he added, “I now get $100,000 a year for doing nothing!” Other questions dealt with his writing process: how does he comes up with ideas, what is the most difficult part of writing, does he plan his symbolism, and do his stories contain any parts of his own life. Other questions dealt specifically with certain parts of his stories and/or novel, and it was clear that these students had read them as part of their class assignment. Interestingly, to the question about what he advises young people who are aspiring writers to do, he replied, “Read, read, read.” He also plugged school, which the teachers really appreciated. He told the students to stay in school and take the advice of their teachers and other adults in their lives because these people were viewing life from a greater vantage point. “If you stay in school, twenty years from now, when you are driving a nice car to your nice home or condo, you’ll see people on the street who dropped out, asking you for a dollar.”

The technology performed flawlessly. It was a picture perfect videoconference and the evaluations we received from the teachers indicated that it was a resounding success. We were fortunate to be able to have Mr. Jones come to CSD, and the technology enabled students who would not otherwise have been able to dialog with him do so. Another testament to the power of videoconferencing!

BTW: We taped the whole thing and got Mr. Jones’ permission to disseminate, so if you would like a copy of the videotape, contact Rebecca at, and she will mail one to you. New Links members, supply us with a blank tape in exchange; others, $10 per tape.

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raalogo.gifWant to learn more about Read Around the Planet

It is a wonderful, collaborative, free program for schools to participate in. Read Around the Planet is a celebration of NEA’s Read Across America. Classrooms throughout the country  (and world) use interactive videoconference systems to connect with other classrooms- around the planet- and read to each other.

The activity is sponsored by TWICE and Polycom, in cooperation with NEA. For more information on TWICE (Two Way Interactive Connections in Education), please visit their blog: I really encourage you to consider this for your school. There is a set procedure, however, so when you visit the website, read all the details carefully, and go to the links provided!

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