Martinsville Teacher Uses Skype to Take Her Students Overseas

Martinsville, VA - Teachers at Albert Harris Elementary School in Martinsville are taking students on field trips across the country, even to Europe.

The only difference: they're doing it through Skype.

One teacher in particular, Monica Mitchell, has had her fifth grade class skyping with rangers in Yellowstone National Park and taking a virtual tour of the Royal Naval Museum in England.

Mitchell uses Skype as a supplement to whatever she is teaching her students at the time - from geography to science.

The school says the students have already had fun while learning about other cultures, and Wednesday they went on another trip.

"Our students in Martinsville want to have an opportunity to travel the world, and bringing technology into the classroom is a way to do that, " said Mitchell.

Today's activity was what they call a "Mystery Skype".

The students interacted with another class from around the world. Their job was to guess the country where their Skype partners were located using geography based questions with "Yes" or "No" answers.

Another other class had to do the same activity.

Mitchell says it was just one of many Skype sessions she has used to give her students an alternative to two dimensional learning.

"For me personally, I wouldn't want to have someone to teach me like that. I want to change it up and say "Let's move, let's dance, let's add technology to it', " Mitchell said.

According to Mitchell, her students love every minute of it.

"It's fun because we get to interact with other people, so it's not like an ordinary day, " said student Nyjeon Brandon.

Principal Felicia Preston says her school received a grant to purchase webcams that were first utilized by first grade classes.

Preston says she hopes that soon all of the students will be using this technology to enhance their education.

"I think Mrs. Mitchell and the first grade teachers from last year have really given our students the opportunity to experience something that they may in no other way be able to do, " said Preston.

"They find out that there is a world outside of Martinsville and Henry County. We want to bring the world to them, " Mitchell said.

The class that Mitchell's students skyped were fourth graders at a school in Manchester, England.

After the brief geography lesson, each class shared their Christmas traditions with each other to see how families celebrate the holidays around the world.