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The Connected Classroom

Information On and From EducationPlus' LearningLab

Category Archives: Videoconferencing

Kevin Honeycutt, Will BlaylockThe Connected Classroom is the EducationPlus Learning Division blog. Here are the top five most visited posts for the past month – did you contribute to the clicks?

#1 Making IT Happen: Will Blaylock

#2 2014 METC Conference Keynotes: Kevin Honeycutt and Lodge McCammon

#3 Student Journalists Cover METC Live

#4 Sharpen Your Skills and Open Up New Worlds!

#5 Stream Video from METC 2014

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Teachers just like you are doing amazing things through distance learning, providing their students experiences that are far beyond what’s possible in the classroom.  flickr creative commons

The EducationPlus Distance Learning Academy will equip you with the knowledge and tools to make amazing experiences  come to life for your students! St. Louis area teachers have connected their students to the rainforests of Borneo and to the underwater wonders of the Great Barrier Reef. Where will you take your students?

In the three day academy this summer, you’ll learn about e-learning, online projects and videoconferencing using tools like Polycom, Cisco, Skype, Google and LifeSize.  You’ll also learn how to effectively use other collaborative technologies such as Google Docs, blogs and wikis.  As you collaboratively work on projects over distance learning you’ll develop a Personal Learning Network that will be valuable in your teaching.

Learn more about dates, fees, and graduate credit opportunities by visit our online registration calendar.

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EducationPlus announces a series of videoconference dialogs among schools on the topics of improving unaccredited schools and the St. Louis school transfer program.

These conversations are suggested for classes in Civics, Government, History, Journalism and Social Studies. High school students from different demographic areas of St. Louis, including the unaccredited districts and the receiving districts, will have an opportunity to talk with each other in a series of five videoconference dialogs. Schools must participate in all five sessions and have a way to connect over the Internet with voice and video to participate; this could be by having a  Polycom-type unit or Skype-type connection. Time will be determined by participating schools and EducationPlus. To learn more, including session descriptions and the series’ alignment with Common Core ELA Standards, follow this link.

Session 1 | Jan. 29, 2014
Session 2 | Feb. 24, 2014
Session 3 | March 31, 2014
Session 4 | April 15, 2014
Session 5 | May 7, 2014

Objectives of this program are for the students to:

  • Research the background of the school accreditation process and the current transfer program, including national and Missouri state educational policy
  • Interview the parties involved with Missouri school accreditation and the current transfer program
  • Evaluate and summarize school accreditation from all perspectives
  • Compile and document data and anecdotal evidence related to the current transfers
  • Brainstorm and develop recommendations for education policy in Missouri
  • Present results of study to appropriate parties

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Opera Theatre logoFor Teachers of Math, Technology, Gifted, Theater, Drama and Music:

What happens when you combine a partnership with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis with the concepts of Common Core Math, Project-Based Learning, WebQuests, and the Performance Character principles of cooperation, interdependent learning, leadership expectations, meaningful work, presentation, and the ability to learn from experts?

Put another way….

Q: When does Common Core Math & Character become your ticket to the world of the stage? 
A: When students in grades 3-12 team up to create a Set Design Proposal that includes a “to-scale model” and their logic-based reasons why their design is the best choice for the children’s opera, The Very Last Green Thing.  Student teams will present their work for professional review at the STAGE RIGHT EXHIBITION on Saturday, October 19 at Touhill Performing Arts Center from 1-3 p.m. Their work will be on display during the run of The Very Last Green Thing from Oct. 21-26.

How does it work?  Teachers and advisors go to WebQuest Set Design at

They will find a WebQuest that includes the project description, leadership roles and resources for each member of the student teams, lesson plans and the entry form.  Explore it and determine if and how it might become part of your Fall curriculum.  Keep these key dates in mind.

Sep. 20            Deadline for Entry Form.  No student team can present without confirmed receipt of the Entry Form.

Oct. 14            Deadline for completion of the Set Design Proposal, including to scale rendering, model and 5- minute oral presentation

Oct. 19AM:      Delivery of set design models to Touhill Performing Arts Center

Oct. 19PM:      Showing and Review of the Set Designs by teams of Theater Professionals  1 – 3 PM

Call or email Diane Stirling with any questions after you’ve reviewed the WebQuest site.  Phone: 314.303.6815  Email:

HEC-TV Constitution Day

HEC-TV’s Constitution Day 2012 – click photo to play

On September 17 at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. CT, HEC-TV presents Constitution Day 2013: The Ongoing Impact of Gideon v. Wainwright. Join HEC-TV from the Thomas F. Eagleton Federal Courthouse in St. Louis to interact with their panel of judges, prosecutors, and public defenders for a vibrant and insightful discussion on the constitutional, legal, political and practical implications of the landmark 1963 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Gideon v. Wainwright.

To find a more detailed program description- which participants can watch online, on TV, or participate via videoconference-  that includes objectives, related national curriculum standards, pre-program learning activities, and information on how to view the program live and participate interactively, click here.

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Patricia and Fred McKissack

Patricia and Fred McKissack during a 2008 webinar

by Martha Bogart

Fred McKissack died last Sunday, and the world just isn’t the same place without him.  Fred was one of those men that you always hear about on the news when they die—he was so nice, so friendly, such a good heart, etc. etc., except—Fred was the genuine article.  I don’t think I have ever met a better human being than Fred.  He and his wife, Pat, helped us here at CSD to create the New Links to New Learning videoconferencing program from scratch.  This was at a time, back in 1998, when if you asked someone to do a videoconference, the response was, “A what?”  But, CSD had received a grant from Southwestern Bell and Ruth Block’s task was to get schools interested and participating in videoconferences with students.  She approached Pat and explained what she wanted to do—provide students with videoconferences from children’s authors—and Pat and Fred were immediately in.  They didn’t know what it was, exactly, but if it helped kids, they were going to do it.

And do it they did!  Those first videoconferences were scary—Would the equipment work? Would the school personnel be able to dial in? What should the programming and content delivery look like? Would the kids like it? Would they learn anything?  But from the very beginning, the author visits were magical.  The camera would zoom in, and there would be Pat and Fred, smiling and talking, and answering questions from children about the books they had written, how they got their ideas, their writing process, how they went about researching for each book, which book was their favorite, and so much more.  How wonderful to be speaking directly to the authors of a book they had just read right from their classrooms, no matter where they were in the world!  And eventually, as we worked together to perfect the process, the students even got to do some original writing and have it critiqued by real authors.

No videoconference would have been complete without their signature sign-on—a map of Missouri with a star on the city of St. Louis. Pat would say that they were from Missour-ee, and Fred would say that they were from Missour-ah.  Then they would explain that people living on the east side of the state used the French pronunciation with an “e” on the end, while people on the west side used the Native American pronunciation with an “ah” on the end.  The kids got a kick out of it, and I never tired of that intro.

So many wonderful programs, it’s hard to pick a favorite.  Like the one where the kids developed a service project after they read Messy Bessey, and they collected toys and clothing they no longer needed to donate to others.  Or, the study of winter holidays around the world students did after reading Messy Bessey’s Holidays. Fred was the main presenter of the research process that he went through when he and Pat wrote Christmas in the Big House, Christmas in the Quarters, a wonderful book that takes place on a plantation during the Christmas before the start of the Civil War.  Then, there was the summer reading program we did with the St. Louis County Library where every student got a signed copy of Nzingha: Warrior Queen of Matamba. Children came to several branches of the library, and we did multipoint videoconferencing with Pat and Fred who were broadcasting from CSD.

Fred was in his element when he talked about the research process.  He emphasized the use of the library and the reference librarians, and he talked about primary sources and all of his and Pat’s trips to various locations around the globe to gather first-hand stories and information that formed the basis for much of their books.  He also loved to talk politics and was up on current affairs and the state of the union.  I remember having long talks with him that were interesting and insightful—with lots of laughter in the mix!  Fred was a real gentleman, and a truly “gentle” man.

What a role model Fred was to young African-American boys!  Here was a brilliant, funny, sweet man who had traveled the world, written books, researched in libraries all over the place, and yet was so approachable and willing to talk to kids and answer their questions no matter what they were.

We will miss you, Fred.  Thank you for all that you did for CSD, for the children of our region, and for embracing new technology and taking risks. God speed, my friend.

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this week in csd pd

This week, area educators and students at a distance took advantage of the educational resources offered by Cooperating School Districts of Greater St. Louis in areas like Special Education, Early Childhood Education, STEM, U.S. History, School-wide Positive Behavior Support and Common Core State Standards. To see what’s coming up on the professional development schedule, visit

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