Learning can be real!

Students in year 7 are learning how to use some of the lesser known features of MS Powerpoint. After creating animations in Powerpoint, I was going to get them to create games in Powerpoint. This was dependent on them accessing a file in the network drive in a 2011 folder. To my dismay, the folder had been removed. Now what!

I had just finished chatting to Lorraine Leo in skype re the imminent hurricane that was soon to arrive on the North Eastern area of USA, where Lorraine lived. I quickly messaged to see if she was still there and could she please speak to my students about this hurricane and its impact on her, her school and the area that she lived in. Lorraine was kind enough to agree. Once I had overcome the technical issues that seemed to beset my hardware in the computer room, Lorraine appeared in the video option of skype and spoke to my students for 10 mins or so. Her school was closed for 2 or 3 days, they had been warned to stay indoors. Some areas had been evacuated. Her concern was for her elderly mother and other family members who lived in New York etc. Unfortunately, the screen share facility did not work as Lorraine was about to share a presentation featuring information on this.

The students were able to come up to the webcam one at a time and ask her questions. Halfway through my lesson, 50% of the class then went out to an early lunch as they were involved in the school production. I ended the call with Lorraine as the video was not working. This left me with 10 boys who were so intensely engaged in googling the hurricane, where it started, what it looked like, the weather maps, the increasing impact of it, the loss of lives etc. One of the boys found the youtube video of President Obama’s urgent speech to the nation and we all watched that.

As Lorraine was still online, the boys went up to the chat feature and keyed in further questions for her. Here are a couple of the text questions:-

  • Qu: Are you getting much wind and rain at the moment? Response:Hi Ross. No we are not getting very much rain or wind at all right now. It feels sort of like we are close to the ocean though.. I think that the humidity is higher than normal. Let me give you a link.  Weather forecast Here you can see the temperature.
  • what is the temperature? It is 50.9 degrees Fareinheit (This sparked research as we record temperatures in celsius)

The lunchbell then went, but what a lot of learning went on, from a short skype call which thoroughly engaged the students and sparked their curiousity, from a real person expecting a real natural disaster – the local knowledge, the atmosphere,  the feelings involved, the unknown future, the lead up to a natural disaster etc were all there! Students were going home that night to research further and watch for any TV news. Since then Lorraine has made a little video of the strong winds blowing outside her window for students to watch when they come into class tomorrow.

The twitter hashtag has been added to my tweetdeck column #sandyq for twitter updates from people – there are images, updates, news items etc (and some updates that are  inappropriate) but all part of learning.

Thank you so much Lorraine for making learning real for us! Stay safe, take care and we look forward to hearing from you once that hurricane has passed.


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