Column: Notre Dame sending the wrong message

Published 9:20 am Thursday, December 2, 2004

By By SPIROS GALLOS / Niles Daily Star
NILES - Students at Niles High School took part in a pair of video conferences with meteorologists from WNDU News Center 16 and students at an elementary school in St. Joseph Wednesday.
Meteorologists Cindi Clawson and Mike Hoffman joined students from three English Skills classes in the Niles High School library while conversing with the students in St. Joseph via live video and audio feed.
Clawson and Hoffman took questions from students at both schools about tornadoes, ranging from "What's the largest tornado ever recorded?" to "Why does the sky turn green when there is a tornado?"
The video conferences were part of a reading comprehension program coordinated through the Berrien County Intermediate School District known as the "Author Specialist Knowledge" (ASK) program.
The students read the novel "Night of the Twisters" by Ivy Ruckman as part of the program unit. The students kept a journal everyday, writing about their reactions to the material they read.
Students also prepared questions for the Clawson and Hoffman based on their journals and class research and discussion.
Students in Niles English teacher Jenny Nate's class watched parts of the movie "Twister" to get a visual idea of what a tornado looks like and is capable of doing.
Although the movie was not a required part of the unit, Nate said she felt the movie would enhance the students' experience with a visual representation of what they were reading about.
Clawson and Hoffman both said they had spoken to classes in the past, but Wednesday's video conferences were firsts for the two meteorologists.
Niles freshmen Kaylynn Stephenson, 14, and Courtney Teske, 15, who got to ask Clawson a question they prepared for the video conference, thought the experience was cool.
Nate felt her students learned more through the ASK program because of the amount of involvement the students had with the material they were reading.
Berrien County ISD Instructional Technology Consultant Janine Lim, who coordinated the video conferences Wednesday, said the county has been participating in video conference events such as the ASK program for five years.
In the past, fourth and fifth graders in Berrien County have taken part in "Mystery Quest" events, which featured video conferences between four or five schools and students from each class had to guess what country the other classes were giving presentations about, Lim said.
More recently, high school students took part in a video conference with a doctor while he was performing open-heart surgery. The doctor and nurses assisting him listened to and answered questions from high school students throughout Berrien County.