Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Skype in the Classroom

Well after taking a short break from blogging due to many unforeseen events, I am back with some fresh concepts that are being accomplished in the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District. Today, I was working with a Language Arts teacher with her class that just got done interviewing the director of movie that will be released soon that is based on a movie “Johnny got his Gun”. After a few technical difficulties, luckily on their end, they finally started the interview process with Rowan Joseph. There was a lot of energy in the room full of 24 students anxious and unsure of what to expect from this process, as most of them were unfamiliar with the process of how Skype works. So to start off, Mrs. Dimmick and myself ran a test in the classroom and some wonderful feedback on the sound as we were sitting two close together. I do enjoy a nice reverb between two computers as it so pleasant on the ears. But once it started, without the video, the students started to perform wonderfully. They were respectful, focused and asked really poignant questions. They probed the director on why they choose to make a movie about this book, what it was like to work with actor, and so on. The students were very engaged in this process, as they had to write down what they thought about Rowan’s answers. With something new, especially for students it takes a while for them to get comfortable, but after about 5 questions some students even started to ask follow up answers. It would be interesting to see what the students thought process was like about their what they were thinking about the this activity before, during and after it was all over. One of the questions was asked about why they choose to use just one actor, Rowan made note of that this a new version of a previous version. Most of today’s students have seen clips of that movie in the music video “One” by Metallica. One of the constant questions revolved on the geopolitical reality of the current events in the Middle East. Rowan put forth a well thought out answer about his views of the war and how it has changed over time. Rowan did read the book in high school and he had a hard time reading the novel as it hit him in the gut and made it hard read. He appreciated the “Hope” of the character later in life on second reading but while in high school was overwhelmed with the physical loss of the his body parts.