Friday, January 30, 2009

Technology helps students participate in historic event

The countdown towards a historic event in our country’s history created quite a buzz at St. Albans City School. In an age where technology brings you instant access to view world events, expectations ran high that students and staff would not only have the opportunity to view the first African American be sworn in as the 44th President of the United States, but also participate in some of the events that surrounded the day.

While classroom teachers prepared their students with lessons on history, government and the Constitution, the school librarians and the technology staff teamed up to make sure that everyone had a place to gather and watch the Inaugural Events.Mr. Lyndes, the school network administrator, estimated the amount of Internet bandwidth that would be required for each computer to stream the video from the many available websites, then calculated how many computers the school’s Internet connectivity could successfully handle.

Ms. DeLaBruere, the school educational technology specialist, set up locations with computers, speakers, screens and projectors for groups to gather and view the event using the school’s Internet system in the gym, cafeteria, and two classrooms.Librarians, Ms.Wade and Ms. Lang, tested the school’s cable system and located enough televisions and live cable connections to set up certain classrooms to act as hosts viewing stations. They also worked with Mr. Pelkey to turn the center of the school from a library to a large group viewing center, equipped extra chairs, patriotic decorations and a large projector screen displaying a local cable feed of the Inauguration activities.

Even the cafeteria staff contributed by supervising extra equipment in the midst of a busy lunchroom to allow students scheduled for lunch to watch the President take the oath at high noon.After the oath, some classes continued to watch some of the afternoon events, while others participated in debriefing activities.

While attendees in Washington DC were aiming their cell phones to capture photos and videos of the events, City school students were using the Internet to post comments using an educational tool called Voice Thread, where students can add their voice or text comments to reflection questions.
Click here to see the online version of this VoiceThread.

Older students participated in free write activities that allowed them to express their thoughts and feelings, while some of the younger students passed around Flip Video cameras to capture their ideas. The school website hosts some initial pictures, videos, and the Educational Voice Thread activity of this historic event; while additional videos are being prepared by students to be hosted in City School’s lobby kiosk.



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