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The Connected Classroom

Information On and From EducationPlus' LearningLab

Monthly Archives: September 2008

I have had a couple of teachers recently ask me how to prep their students for videoconferences. We do have a list of protocols at our New Links website, and many content providers do on their sites. But here is a brief overview of etiquette, protocols and set ups, compiled by me, from many content providers:

Vanderbilt Virtual School

  • Communicate videoconference information to participating teachers and students.
  • Before the videoconference, teachers should discuss the topic with students.
  • Before the videoconference, students should prepare possible questions to ask presenter during question and answer session.
  • Make sure ALL participants can see the monitor and be heard.
  • Frame a picture of participants that is not too close or too far away.
  • Set up several camera pre-sets to use during question and answer period.
  • MUTE your microphone when the presenter is speaking.

From TWICE/ SouthwestNet Distance Learning
Before the Videoconference

  • If at all possible, orient the students to the technology beforehand so that they are less distracted by it and ready to learn from the videoconference.

  • Have the students practice speaking loudly and clearly when asking questions.

  • Set a preset to show the whole room and start the videoconference showing the whole class.

  • If the site supplies materials, do all the pre conference activities as suggested. The more your students are informed about the material, the better it will go. If the site doesn’t supply materials, then have your students prepare questions ahead of time.

  • If students ask questions about the topic before the videoconference, suggest that this might be a good question to ask the presenter/author.

  • Prepare questions for the videoconference.
  • Invite your principal to drop in to watch the videoconference.

During the Videoconference

  • Teachers: resist the urge to talk! Often students will quit talking when the teacher makes a comment or asks a question. Let the presenter lead the discussion. Save your comments for your students after the videoconference. UNLESS! Sometimes students are shy, and you could suggest questions for them to ask. Or if you are in a v/c with more than one school, use the “mute” time to prompt students if necessary.

  • Set the camera so it shows the whole room. If possible for lower elementary students, have a designated question area close to the mic & have students move there to ask questions. Set a preset on the mic area.

  • Don’t make the students take notes, unless the presenter is asking them to write something. This can distract them from the interaction.

What’s your favorite tip for participating classes?

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… registration for the Midwest Education Technology Conference opens! Make sure you visit Wednesday, October 1, 2008 to register for METC!

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Cooperating School Districts is pleased to have a partnership with author Barri Bumgarner! She will participate in several interactive videoconferences throughout the course of the year. We had Barri as a guest author last school  year (see photo) and her program was extremely well received. To read  more on Barri, visit her website:

COMING UP THIS FRIDAY!!! Oct. 3, 2008: Peer Pressure
$125 for New Links members, $175 for nonmembers
8:30 am: High School and
10 am: 7 & 8th grade

  • Discussion of peer pressure in and outside of school; we recommend/suggest students have read part or all of Author Barri Bumgarner’s acclaimed book, Dregs

Ask the Author Videoconference on Nov. 14, 2008
$125 for New Links members, $175 for nonmembers
Two sessions: 8:30 a.m. for 8-12th grade students and 10 a.m. for 4-7th graders (each sessions lasts about an hour)

  • What does it mean to be an author? Where do ideas for books come from? Have your students meet with Missouri Author Barri Bumgarner for a question and answer session. Barri is the author of young adult and adult fiction books. We ask participating students take a look at her website to read about her multigenre works prior to the videoconference.

‘Monsters’ Writing Workshop on Jan. 1 & Feb. 20 (two-part)
$200 for New Links members, $250 for nonmembers
Two session times: 8:30 a.m. for High School and 10 a.m. for 7th and 8th grade

  • Barri will lead a discussion on who/what are the monsters in a person’s life, how did they become monsters, and how to deal with them. This is a two part writing workshop. In the first session, Barri will give the writing assignment to the students and give them tips and tricks for writing, and in the second session, the participating students will share their work and get constructive criticism from the author.

To sign up, or if you have questions, contact Rebecca Morrison at

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Today I sat in with a class that participated in a Global Nomads Group videoconference (Darfur: Never, Ever Again?). It connected with two other schools (one in Canada, one in North Carolina) and the v/c included  featured speaker Adam Sterling. Adam Sterling of Sudan Divestment Task Force, was in Darfur NOW (alongside George Clooney and Don Cheadle) and he discussed the vital role divestment has played in resolving the conflict in Darfur, as well as answered students questions on divestment, military presence, oil, etc.

The genocide taking place in Darfur is a world-wide issue. He also emphasized that we have to help make changes in Darfur. Adam asked one student why, and she replied that we had to help because we were all part of humanity, and we would want help if it were us. Students asked how they could help right off the bat. Adam enthusiastically spoke about STAND, the student-lead division of the Genocide Intervention Network. STAND is made up of students of all ages, backgrounds, and locations. Adam also reminded the students, even if they weren’t old enough to vote, to watch the first Presidential debate tonight, because one of the topics to be discussed is foreign policy. Though they may not be able to cast a ballot, their voices can still be heard, so they need to pay attention to what the candidates say.

I found the experience to be very moving and inspiring. To learn more about STAND, visit: and to see past GNG programs, visit:


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Author and Big Read Festival participant James Otis Thach will videoconference live from Cooperating School Districts– connecting to three elementary schools- on Wednesday, October 8 at 10:00 am CT.  He is the author of the books, The Tickle Monster is Coming and A Common Guide to Household Monsters.  His books are great for students in Kindergarten – 2nd grade, our target audience for this videoconference. To sign up, contact Rebecca Morrison at This is a free videoconference opportunity for New Links to New Learning members! Hear a story from the author!

Enrollment is on a first come, first serve basis, so act quickly! Please limit group to 1 class or less than 30 students. SEPT. 29 NOTE:  THIS VIDEOCONFERENCE IS NOW FULL!

To read more on James Thach, visit:
For more info on The Big Read, visit:

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There are just four educators in the state of Missouri who have the title Google Certified Teacher– and they are all are based in St. Louis area districts! Cindy Lane became certified last summer, and Bill Bass, Stephanie Madlinger and Joshua Wilmsmeyer joined her this week in Chicago for training at the Google Teacher Academy.

From left to right:
Bill Bass, Parkway School District, Technology Integration Specialist
Cindy Lane, Lindbergh School District, Instructional Technology Specialist
Stephanie Madlinger, Parkway School District, Technology Integration Specialist
Joshua Wilmsmeyer, School District of Clayton, Wydown Middle School Science teacher

Bill, Cindy, Joshua and Stephanie attended the fifth training, making them part of an elite group of educators– there are only 255 GCT (that’s Google Certified Teachers) in the world! Congrats!

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Share this information to fill seats at your school!

If you missed our October ACT prep course over videoconference, breathe easy! Here are the dates for the December ACT prep course. As you know, Cooperating School Districts has a partnership with The Princeton Review to bring inexpensive, quality ACT prep to your students through distance learning. For just $140, a student gets three practice tests, 20 hours of instruction and access to online resources from The Princeton Review. The registration deadline for this course is Friday, October 17. Registrations must be logged at the end of the day on 10/17 for the $140 price. The cost for the course increases after October 17 to $190. Late registration ends Friday, October 24, 2008.

Classes are held at sites that sign up to participate; contact your school to find out if it will be a class location. All participating sites must have H.323 videoconference equipment & connections. We must have at least 50 students from all participating sites for the course to run. The instructor teaches live from Cooperating School Districts in St. Louis, Missouri.

Important dates and times (all times listed are CENTRAL)
Practice Tests, 9:00 am-1:00 pm:
(Saturday sessions are not videoconference connections)
Saturday, Nov. 1, Nov. 15, Dec. 6, 2008

Classes meet over Videoconference, 3:30-5:30 pm:
Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2008
Monday, Nov. 10, 2008
Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2008
Monday, Nov. 17, 2008
Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2008
Monday, Nov. 24, 2008
Monday, Dec. 1, 2008
Wednesday, Dec, 3 2008
Monday, Dec. 8, 2008
Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2008


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