Earlier this month the students in Ms. Phalen’s English class at Clarkstown North engaged in an exciting activity. Using the district-sponsored Google Apps platform, they video-interviewed the author of a relevant book on the subject of education reform. This is not the first time students in the district have participated in such engaging activities. At Clarkstown South, students in Ms. DiSavino’s English class have had Skype video conferences with Hanah Tinti, author of The Good Thief, a novel assigned in class.
These are exciting times for educators and students, and technology has become increasingly embedded in our students’ learning. Five or ten years ago, students would have had to leave their classroom for a project like this; now it is possible to use these tools right in the classroom as an integral part of the learning experience. I asked Ms. Phalen to summarize the experience, and I share her comments below:
On Friday March 1st my AP Language class of 30 students interviewed a young author, Nikhil Goyal, whose book One Size Does Not Fit All has been getting a lot of buzz among those of us interested in education reform.
Goyal’s book is especially relevant because he is 18 years old and just graduated from Syosset High School in January. One member of my class knows Nikhil and brought his book to my attention. Nikhil agreed to be interviewed via Google Hangout.
No new tech was necessary. I turned my laptop to face my students, hooked it up to our projector, turned on my speakers, got on Gmail, clicked “Start a Hangout” and we were in business. My students had to show me how to select the array mic but after that it was smooth sailing. From the start, Nikhil could hear and see my students and we could see and hear him perfectly.
What an impressive interviewee! Nikhil was poised and had his arguments at his fingertips. We spoke for 30 minutes, and when he had to leave us, Nikhil urged us to ask other people for interviews: “There are very few people too busy to give you 20 minutes of their time. Ask anyone–you might get J.K. Rowling to speak to you!”
Today I asked my class this question: who do you know? Who do your parents know? This interview happened because someone in here knew someone out there. Let’s continue what we started.