New connections

How do you fit two classrooms' worth of students into one? In Cazenovia, a grant from the U.S Department of Agriculture has led to the introduction of interactive video conferencing equipment for Burton Street Elementary, Green Street Middle School and Cazenovia High School. Monday Nov. 22 marked the first transmission from the elementary school, as students gathered in the library classroom to peer into the video monitor and communicate with children in the Tully School District.

Lisa Schaffner's second graders were the first to use this new technology. The broadcast began with each class presenting information about their school. They touched on their class sizes, and physical locations using maps on a computer. The collaborative project was a Thanksgiving-themed practice of deductive reasoning, camouflaged as a fun game of 20 Questions. The activity was titled "The Turkey Disguise Collaboration" and each school had designed a colorful turkey for the other to see. Pupils from both Tully and Cazenovia were remarkably well-behaved throughout the activity, exchanging friendly waves and a few quiet smiles. After each classroom had their turn guessing which turkey was chosen, the students had a chance to discuss a number of books that both they had recently read.

The class-to-class collaborative project was coordinated by BOCES educators and facilitated by the New York State Distance Learning Consortium members. The event ran in numerous schools throughout New York state, as 10 other districts had also received new video conferencing hardware through the grant. Burton Street Librarian Kathy Elliot and Computer Technician Becky Fuller received training from BOCES and knowledgably conducted the conference.

Many were in attendance on both sides of the screen. Cazenovia Superintendent Bob Dubik was present to witness the first transmission, as was Donna Fountain, the assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction.

Fountain was filled with excitement after the 40-minute conference.

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