Video Conferencing Puts Experts in the Classroom
Skyping provides students with perspectives on concepts in practice
Want to understand how lobbying affects policy? Have questions about how the 1930’s Dust Bowl affects today’s economy? Why not ask an expert? That is what students in several Montville Township High School U.S. I and U.S. II history classes are doing.
“The purpose of these visits is for students to explore the different functions of government beyond what they typically learn about in the classroom,” said U.S. I history teacher James McManus.
McManus and fellow U.S. I history teacher Meagan Miller, combined their classes in the Montville Township High School Media Center on February 6, 2018, so students could Skype© with Miller’s brother, Eric Miller, Policy Counsel with the Keystone Energy Efficiency Alliance, and view the conversation on the school’s large monitors.
Through conversations with Eric Miller, students in several periods throughout the day learned the nuances of making policy, building consensus, and the role of lobbyists in the legislative process.
"I liked it!” said sophomore Darren Chia. “I feel like it gave me a great understanding about lobbying and how it works and affects government."
Sophomore, Cindy Xie agreed, adding, "This session gave students an authentic and rare experience to learn about lobbyists."
On February 12 Max Calfo’s U.S. History II class Skyped with Representative Mark Lawson of the Oklahoma House of Representatives.
While taking the students on a tour of the Oklahoma State House, Lawson explained the economic and social impact of the Dust Bowl conditions of the 1930’s on the state and the nation from a historical and long range perspective. He also talked about the history of Oklahoma and the state’s resources.
Additionally, Lawson took the students to the floor of the Chambers to see his desk. During the tour they learned about the Page Program, where teens take part in the legislative process, and they learned about the bills scheduled for the day. Lawson, explained each bill that would be voted on and talked about his perspective and reasoning for his positions.
After the Skype©, junior Faith Dotterweich said, “It was very informative and interesting to see Oklahoma government in action.”
“It was also fun to compare and contrast the lives of Oklahomans and New Jerseyans,” added junior Julia Competiello.
Miller and McManus held a Skype© earlier in the year with Second Lieutenant Daniel Darkings from the Mercian Regiment of the British Army in Afghanistan.
“It is an exciting tool,” said Supervisor of Humanities David Tubbs of video conferencing experts into the classroom. “Teachers are able to bring experts from around the world into the classroom for an interactive instructional opportunity, without disrupting the rest of the school day. It is an inexpensive and practical way for teachers to enhance instruction.”
“I think we should have more guest speakers come in the future, said sophomore Hanzla Saeed. “I really learn more in-depth when someone is a particular field comes and talks to us about their career in that particular field. This was an amazing experience!"
Calfo, McManus and Miller are all planning to Skype© additional experts this spring.
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Captions (Photos by Sue Marinello)
1 & 2:
Through Skype© Eric Miller, Policy Counsel with the Keystone Energy Efficiency Alliance, was able to talk about policy making and lobbyists with several U.S. I history classes at Montville Township High Schools in Montville, NJ. Teachers James McManus and Meagan Miller have plans for several more Skype© visits for students.
3 & 4:
Representative Mark Lawson of the Oklahoma House of Representatives took teacher Max Calfo’s U.S. II history students at Montville Township High School on a tour of the Oklahoma State House on February 12, 2018. Lawson talked with the students via Skype© to discuss the Dust Bowl of the 1930’s and the process of creating laws in the twenty-first century.