I live in a pretty small county in Florida. Our three high schools have a total of 5,000 students, many of whom have never left this county and have little idea of what lies out there. With the increasing popularity of free video conferencing tools like Skype and now Google+ Hangouts we can bring more of that world to these kids. I love finding experts in the “outside” world willing to chat with our students about a range of topics. Last year, I helped a first grade teacher take her kids on a “field trip” around the world via Skype and helped another first grade class see snow for the first time when we Skyped with a classroom in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. I’ve helped teachers connect with authors of books their students have read and also even assisted one of our chorus teachers make a connection with a Broadway singer/actress. I was also lucky enough to connect one of our high school biology classes with geneticist Dr. Kelsey Metzger from the University of Minnesota at Rochester. A couple of years ago, she taught a one hour lesson to our AP Biology class via Skype. How cool is that? I absolutely LOVE this stuff.
A week ago, a journalism teacher at one of our high schools as me if it might be possible to find a working journalist willing to chat with her journalism students. After thinking about how I would approach this, I remembered following someone on Twitter a few years back named Craig Kanalley. At the time, I followed Craig because he was is a Buffalo Sabres fan and was originally from Buffalo, NY, just like me. Craig was living in Chicago but a short while back, Craig was hired on at The Huffington Post as senior editor of Big News & Live Events and moved to New York City. I sent Craig a tweet:
Craig said he’d love to. We connected today via Google+ Hangout. It was fantastic. The students took a lot of time to do their research and come up with high quality, inquisitive questions. Craig spent about an hour with us answering every question the kids threw at him.
We appreciate the time he spent and it was an amazing opportunity for our kids in little ole’ Citrus County, FL. The Huffington Post is the 89th most visited website in the world and for our kids to have the chance to speak to someone in the field, in the trenches writing everyday and managing a staff was invaluable to them. You can watch the recording of the chat below.
We need to keep doing whatever we can to bring the world to our students.