The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

February 15, 2011

Waller students participate in book club video conference

By Cass Rains, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID — Waller Middle School English students participated Tuesday in a first-ever video book club conference.

Seventeen of Melissa Weber’s students spoke with students from Howe Middle School in Le Flore County and Lewis and Clark Middle School in Tulsa about S.A. Bodeen’s book “The Compound.”

Using video conferencing technology, the students were able to ask questions about Bodeen’s book and share their opinions with other students.

“I think the kids are doing a great job,” Weber said. “I’m very proud of them.”

Weber said she learned about the book club from a teacher and counselor at Howe during a conference in October and thought it would be a good experience for her students.

“I wrote a grant to the Enid Public Schools Foundation to get the technology and resources we needed to put this on,” she said. “We’re very fortunate to have this technology in Enid.”

During a question-and-answer session, students were able to see their peers across the state on a split-screen display. Students who posed questions, and answered them, first introduced themselves.

Weber said Tuesday’s conference was a collaboration between herself and Waller media specialist Cristin Ashcraft and Gloria Cumpston, teen librarian for Public Library of Enid and Garfield County.

“I was real impressed with the students’ questions and the insight into the book from their answers,” Cumpston said. “It was a great first start.”

“It was good for the students to interact with other students across the state and realize that they had similar opinions on books that matter to them,” Ashcraft said.

The students were impressed with the video conference and were glad to be able to share their views with other students.

“I thought it was nice to have a common topic that we were all really excited about and interested in,” Emily Alley said.

“It’s a great experience,” Jazmin Soria said. “We get to interact with other students across the state.”

Weber said it was important for her students to be exposed to the technology involved in the video conferencing.

“This technology is the future,” she said. “We’ll have at least one more conference this year, maybe two. We’re hoping to continue this next year, too.”