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East Elementary Students Skype With Principal

Students Skype with Mrs. Anderson in the Media Center. They could see and hear her on the big screen.

When Karen Anderson, principal of East Elementary School, discovered that she would have the opportunity to travel with her daughter in February to Cambodia and Laos, she knew it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. She also wanted to share her experiences with the students at her school while she was traveling. Skyping with the students would encourage global learning and demonstrate how to integrate technology into the curriculum as well. Skype is a free web-based program that is used to make face-to-face calls. Participants need only to download Skype to a computer with a webcam and microphone. Before her departure on February 19th, Anderson approached Lisa Bush, the school media coordinator and together they planned four Skyping sessions for the students during her two-week trip. Planning for a time to Skype was tricky because there is a twelve hour time difference from Monroe, N.C. to Cambodia and Laos. Anderson would be busy touring and sightseeing during the daytime, so she had to log in to her laptop at 10:00 p.m. in order to talk with the students at school at 10:00 in the morning.

Ms. Bush scheduled four to five classes at a time to Skype in the Media Center. A laptop was connected to an LCD projector and sound system so the students could see and hear their principal on the “big screen”. Most classes researched Cambodia and Laos ahead of time so the students came with prepared questions to ask Mrs. Anderson. Beforehand, Ms. Bush showed the students the route that Mrs. Anderson was traveling on a world map, pointing out how she went from the city of Phnom Penh to smaller cities like Siemreab and then north to rural Laos. The students were also shown photos of Cambodia, such as the ancient Angkor Wat temple. Each session lasted about 30 minutes. Skyping was such a success, Bush asked Anderson to add extra sessions to her agenda as more classes requested to Skype with her. Even the Prekindergarten students enjoyed it. When asked if they could "call Mrs. Anderson" again, Ms. Bush had to explain that Mrs. Anderson was already on a plane headed for home and her flight would take many, many hours.

All the students were interested that Mrs. Anderson visited a school in Cambodia where the students attend six days a week, and the older students were horrified to learn that she could have ordered fried tarantula or red ants for dinner (but she ordered a chicken dish with noodles instead). They learned about cultural differences, time zones and climates of the two regions. Mrs. Anderson spoke with them during one session in Laos from her bed, surrounded by a mosquito net on a 98 degree evening. The students and staff are glad to have Mrs. Anderson home safe and sound and they are looking forward to seeing her photos and hearing about her travels. And no one wants to miss the video of her riding an elephant!

Written by: Lisa Bush, Library Media Coordinator
Posted: Mar 14, 2011 by Ms. Lisa Bush

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