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The Connected Classroom

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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.”

Nancy Sachtleben
Parkway West High


Thank you so much for conducting the mock trial.  The “jury” really enjoyed themselves and seemed to learn a lot.  We really look forward to participating in this great format.  Please pass our thanks onto Mr. Steensland and Mrs. Morrison as well.”

Pat Cindric
Hermitage High

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CSD through New Links to New Learning has connected classrooms to content providers, experts and other students across the world over videoconference. We hope to add more push pins to our map! Where have your students “gone”? 

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The Virtual Learning Center is wrapping up 2007 with revamping the teleout with the old,  in with the new– 
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we’ve set up 15 new iMacs with the Leopard OS in the tele (with the help of Apple). What’s really cool about the new Apples is that they have both Windows and Mac programs with Boot Camp. We’re really excited to be able to train our teachers on the computers they are familiar with- whether it is a PC or Mac.
January 15 note- 
id370_features_hero1.jpg We have made even more changes- our new SMART Boards have been installed at CSD, including one in the tele.  In addition to the SMART Board, we have our Promethean Activboard and new Sympodiums.  If you haven’t been to CSD’s tele for professional development training, St. Louis area teachers, now is the time!

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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

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 Author and explorer Carolyn Lesser videoconferences with students!  Join Carolyn as she takes your students around the world, using her wonderful touch to teach your students how to explore… and write!  Based in St. Louis, Missouri, Carolyn connects over videoconference from Cooperating School Districts to classrooms all over the country- let yours be next! For more information about Carolyn’s interactive videoconfereces, visit this link.carolyn-and-jellyfish.jpg home_15.jpg   Carolyn is the author of several books, including The Goodnight Circle; Great Crystal Bear; Dig Hole, Soft Mole; and What a Wonderful Day to be a Cow. She has videoconferenced with elementary thru high school students, and caters to teachers’ specific curricular requests. Prices for her programs vary; contact Rebecca at for more details.

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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 by January 11 to sign up.

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nlaw_logo.gifweights.jpgToday 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.

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