Monday, April 14, 2014

One Thing Leads to Another, Part Five: Skyping With Molly

Paph. Pinocchio's first bud opening
As I mentioned in a recent post, my English 12 students recently read The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, and along with the novel, read "Confessions of a First-Time Mom," a blog written by a former Marshall student, Molly (Richards) Smith (class of 2002). When we finished the novel, we scheduled some Skype-sessions with Molly so the students could ask her some questions about her take on the novel (which she read along with us), her thoughts on parenting, her experiences with blogging, and her memories of Marshall. 
Molly (& little Liam) Skyping with Period 1A

Over the course of two days, Molly graciously set aside time out of her very busy life to talk with three sections of the class! (In one class, we even had a chance to see her husband Brady and their son Liam for a little while.) Within each class, small groups of students prepared questions in advance and knew how much time they'd have to talk with Molly. They also knew I'd be grading their sessions with her, and that it was their job to keep the conversations going, avoid repetition, and make things interesting. Many of them were very nervous about speaking with Molly, especially under such time-constraints and assessment-pressures, but it all went very well! (They quickly discovered how friendly and open Molly is, and that put them more at ease.)
Paph. Pinocchio almost fully open
I was a bit nervous, too, as there are always lots of variables in activities like these--there's only so much lesson-planning you can do when you mix conversation and technology! But we were lucky enough to have our Tech Integration Specialist Mr Whittaker (also from the class of '02) with us during these sessions to set up the Skype connection and film the classes (Thanks, Mr W!).  In fact, technology wasn't a problem at all, which makes me think I should do things like this much more often! 

Of course, I asked my students to blog about their experiences with Molly--and a few of my favorite responses to this assignment come from Chris O, Sam R, Ellie P, and Tim P. Mr Whittaker included us in a blog-post of his own, and a couple folks from our Development Office also stopped by during the Skype sessions…They, too, put up a blog post about these conversations. Ms Kosmatka, who writes the "Parent Pass" blog for Marshall, also came and took some pictures and put them up on her blog. --And then, Molly also wrote a post, in which she reflected on the experience--she entitled hers "For the Seniors," and she has some really nice and interesting things to say to my students about writing and blogging! 
Queen Vic's 9th blossom!

See? This is what I've been talking about in Parts One, Two, Three, and Four of this "One Thing Leads to Another" series: one blog-post leads to another (elsewhere), and another (yet somewhere else), and soon you have a whole network of online thoughts, responses, and various perspectives, branching out from the source...something almost like a digital writing community...with connections out there in the real world...

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