Newport-Mesa’s TeWinkle Middle School uses distance learning to showcase living history

The Newport-Mesa Unified School District recently shared this story about a pair of teachers bringing history to life by virtually connecting their students to war veterans.

Through a partnership with the Freedom Committee of Orange County, eighth-graders from TeWinkle Middle School got an opportunity this month to teleconference with 12 war veterans during an online instructional session. The veterans served in World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam War, the Cold War and the Gulf War.

Teleconference screen shotOne of the guest participants, Newport Harbor High alumn Gary Tegel, shared his experiences growing up in a military family and serving for 25 years in the U.S. Navy as a maintenance technician, senior chief and enlisted surface warfare specialist.

Tegel fielded questions ranging from “What was life returning from deployment like?” to “Where did you meet your wife?”

After getting to ask the veterans questions in real-time, students were asked to design an infographic that compared and contrasted a living veteran’s experiences with those of a Union or Confederate soldier from the Civil War, relying on primary and secondary sources for the latter. Students later shared their presentations with peers by creating a video or screencast.

“We are grateful for everyone’s flexibility and support as we continue to provide a great education to our students via our new normal,” said eighth-grade teacher Chris Flores. “We appreciate the Freedom Committee veterans for their willingness to participate and provide this valuable learning opportunity for our students.”