As you can see, I’ve had a bit of a dry spell when it comes to blogging. I did, however, think today’s experience might be interesting to report. My colleague and good friend Kiki took on a rather daunting challenge. He taught Dave Cullen’s Columbine as the nonfiction book for his 9th grade English class. If you have read (or get around to reading) the book, Kiki is the teacher who was with Frank, our principal, when the shooting began. Throughout the course of studying the book, our kids have been blogging with another class of kids in Kansas City who also read it. (Kiki happened to stumble on the blog the KC kids had already started for their unit and contacted their teacher.) I’ve joined in on the discussion periodically.
Today, as a culminating activity, Columbine hosted a coordinated video chat between Dave Cullen (in New York), Frank (in his office), and a panel of freshmen in Kiki’s room with Kiki and me. The rest of Kiki’s students and a few of mine were watching a live feed in the auditorium, as were the Kansas City kids at their school. While the video chat was going on, the kids watching it had laptops and instant messaged their questions, which were projected on the wall in Kiki’s room so that our freshman panel could read them and pass them along to the appropriate speaker. It was quite a feat, pulled off by our two tech specialists and our librarian.
What really struck me the most became evident long before the feeds were hooked up. The kids who made up the panel were just hanging out, bored, waiting, eating in the classroom (which is strictly verboten at Columbine and therefore doubly enjoyed by students who were already feeling special to have been chosen to moderate). They were so relaxed. It was abundantly clear that this was not an emotionally loaded event for them. Sure, Columbine is their school, and 12 years ago “Columbine” happened there, but they have absolutely no memory of it. They were 3 years old. It’s history—no more or less emotional than reading about the explosion of the Challenger or the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
Those of us who were there don’t talk about it much to our students. We forget that our baggage is not theirs. These are not the kids who were affected by it. Very few of them even had brothers or sisters at CHS 12 years ago. I kind of felt it lose a little bit more of its power. It was just interesting.
Dave, by the way, is a great speaker. If you have a good-sized group reading Columbine, I highly recommend that you get in touch with him for a Skype visit.