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The Madison Record

Tibbs’ class ‘visits’ Rome

Wendy Tibbs’ students can add “Skype expertise” to their resumes.

Tibbs’ class at West Madison Elementary School used Skype to communicate with students in a Department of Defense (DoD) school in Rome, Italy.

Skype(tm) software connects users in online conversation and viewing.

Using Skype, Tibbs talked with third-grade teacher Jessica Mowry at the American Overseas School of Rome. “I gained ideas from Ms. Mowry, (who) was working on poetry, especially Dr. Seuss’ work,” Tibbs said. “I decided to work on a short poetry lesson with my third-graders.”

Tibbs and Mowry both decided to host a Dr. Seuss cafe. “All our third-graders had similar experiences to share when we met together on March 2 at 7:45 a.m.,” Tibbs said.

A tech support employee helped Tibbs up speakers, camera and projector. Both classes could see each other. “My kids aren’t easily intimidated,” Tibbs said about the tech-savvy environment.

Tibbs had been reluctant about a virtual field trip. “I felt like students would be sitting and staring at a screen … like TV,” she said. “However, this was nothing like that — it was more like being with students from two classes on a visual phone call.”

The Roman classroom had differently styled desks and students with puzzling names. “Their clothes were similar. When students interacted, they realized they’re just the same,” Tibbs said.

West Madison students introduced one another, read an excerpt from “Hop on Pop” in English and shared thoughts from their Dr. Seuss Cafe.

“The class from Rome shared their perceptions (about their cafe), read poetry they’d been working on and read some of ‘Wocket in My Pocket’ in Italian,” Tibbs said.

The Madison and Rome classrooms decided “to form a relationship using an online blog or Google document setup and let the students converse over the rest of the semester,” Tibbs said.

In the future, Tibbs hopes that her students will have personal conversations with the Italian students.

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