Climb Into His Skin…Virtual Reality Trip to the Maycomb Courthouse

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

 – Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird

VRtripAs we began reading the trial of Tom Robinson in To Kill a Mockingbird, I wanted a way for students to truly immerse themselves into the scene of the courtroom. I wanted them to see and feel what it was like to be involved in the story. To see things from Scout’s perspective, from Atticus’s viewpoint, and then from the perspective of Tom Robinson, as he awaited his verdict.

I located the actual courtroom where the movie was filmed on Google Street View, then had students use Google Cardboard VR viewers I purchased on Amazon to immerse themselves into the scene. They studied the view from different positions in the courtroom – the balcony, where the “colored people” sat, the lower level – where white spectators sat, from the view of the jury, as well as the view from the defendant’s chair.


Later, students wrote about their experience from the perspective of a character in each of the sections of the courtroom. Then, they chose one perspective to discuss, and recorded a video response on the class FlipGrid.

Allowing students to do as Atticus Finch says, “climb into their skin and walk around in it,” truly helped students understand the perspective of others in this story. It was an excellent learning experience!

“I feel like looking at things from Tom’s perspective, sitting in the witness chair looking out at the courtroom, gave me a glimpse into how he might have felt during the trial. To be on trial for your life, knowing you did nothing wrong, that made me very sad for him, and angry at the way people were treating him.”

tkam jury

tkam courtroom interrior


Breakout for STAAR!


Our school newspaper wrote a feature about the BreakoutEDU “Escape the Room” activity I put together for my kids to review for their upcoming STAAR test. I hoped that the fun activity would create a lasting memory that they could hold onto, not just for their big test, but for a long time afterwards. I love the fact that the student they interviewed about it didn’t even talk about the fun he had, or that his group was the first to break out, but that he remembers Malala’s speech and the idea that education can change the world. He made me so proud!

“I loved hearing Ms. Cloyd read the article because Male was a strong girl who gave a speech to inform everyone that education does matter, and it can change the world. It was truly inspirational.”




Stay tuned for details on how I created the Breakout game, how I incorporated close-reading skills, and what I would do differently next time.


I Really Do Dream of Learning…

Of course, everyone wants their blog to have a catchy name… something people will remember, something people can easily refer to when they want to share your page. (Hopefully at some point, someone might just want to share my page!) As I sat staring at the blinking cursor in the “name your website” box, I contemplated many things. But when it comes down to it, I settled on “I Dream of Learning” because it’s the truth. I spend about 90% of my waking hours thinking about teaching & learning, and even a percentage of my non-waking hours end up there too (as most educators do.) Admittedly, it’s probably as much an addiction as it is a passion, but I can think of worse things to be addicted to than learning and knowledge!

Since I was in high school, teachers, friends, and others (but mostly my mom!) have been telling me I should be a writer. I always wanted to follow through with that request, but I just didn’t think I had a purpose or an audience for anything I had to say. And any good English teacher will tell you that purpose and audience is two-thirds of the rhetorical triangle! I have had plenty of occasions to write (the other third of the triangle), but I had to wait until the other two parts revealed themselves. Well, I’ve just finished my fourth year of teaching, and I’ve just finished two years of graduate school, so I find myself with a couple of months of “freedom” to finally put my writing skills to the test.

My intentions are to share thoughts about my experiences as a classroom teacher as well as my efforts to inspire and encourage other educators to blend effective instruction with innovate technology. Not for the sake of making learning fun (although that is part of it), and not only to engage students, but to transform the learning experience. That is my goal as an educator, and I suspect that the majority of what I share here will be in an effort to achieve and preserve that goal.

Thank you for visiting, and please feel free to connect with me on Twitter! @DreamLearning