Videoconference with Senator Graham

Posted on November 2, 2009. Filed under: High School, Social Studies/History | Tags: , , |

by Tim Van Heule
Coordinator of Distance Learning

Senator Lindsey Graham

Image taken from Senator Graham's website (http://lgraham.senate.gov)

Last week, AP Government students in Mrs. Williams class at Wade Hampton High School had the opportunity to speak with Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) through videoconference.

The students generated a list of questions that they wanted to ask the Senator and eventually narrowed the list down to ten questions. Unfortunately, not all of the questions were able to be asked due to time constraints; however, the questions that were asked generated a lot of debate when the videoconference ended and the class resumed. Questions ranged on issues regarding immigration, the military, civil rights, economics and environmental issues.

An experience such as this provides students in Greenville County with a unique opportunity to have a one-on-one dialogue with the Senator. This is not the first the first time our students have participated in a videoconference with Senator Graham. Students from Riverside High School and Greer High School also participated last year. We have reached out to Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) and Congressman Bob Inglis (R-SC) as well.

A connection with an elected government official allows students to ask questions about issues that matter to them, something that may not always happen in a town hall meeting. This increased access provides real world connections students, bringing them into the political process as they learn the importance of phrasing questions appropriately.

While this increased access is great, it is not something that is always available to all students because of scheduling constraints with our elected officials. However, connecting with a United States Senator is only one of the benefits of videoconferencing in a high school government or social studies class. Some of the other projects that can be accomplished through videoconference are debate, mock congress and trials. Students from one school could connect with students across the district and debate current issues, mock bills and even participate in mock trials. All of these possibilities create a “new” audience for the students to prepare for and make the learning in the classroom more meaningful.

Our district is large enough to allow such projects to occur without most of the students actually “knowing” each other. However, we are always looking to expand our videoconference offerings outside of the district and are open to collaborations around the country and world. Please contact me if you are interested.

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    The School District of Greenville County – Instructional Technology Department

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