The Global Nomads videoconference today (see previous post) encapsulated for me the beauty and complexity of connecting students in real time to real people. Our students researched the topic of Haiti and the earthquake. They had questions in hand as the conference began. Everything came together with the support of administrators and teachers to make this work despite the complexities and demands of a middle school day.
The conference began. South Plantation opened the conference with an introduction. The round robin of questioning began. Then the power of live talking emerged. Participating schools listened to candid stories from the heart from the students in Florida. The last speaker we heard told a compelling story of living through the earthquake, losing loved ones and his arrival in Florida. Another student interpreted his story, so compelling in the detailed description of the devastation and grief. Our students wanted to ask their questions, but the account took on a life of its own. Talk about primary resources.
Then, as life happens, our fire alarm went off; we couldn’t interrupt to tell Grace Lau, our moderator, that we had to leave the building in the middle of this young man’s riveting story. The fire department arrived, the coast cleared, we returned to the room in time for closing remarks.
The power emerged after the conference with the skillful facilitation of two talented teachers, Gayle Yodowitz and Denise Le Blanc. Our Haitian American students shared their family experiences, their fears for loved ones’ safety, and ways in which their families were contributing to the relief effort.
The conference experience lasted until dismissal. The best laid plans of planned questioning and late passes to classes fell away as an experience of sharing continued.
This to me, is the beauty of live videoconferencing; like life, it can’t be scripted – it’s real.