Brookside students Skype with Nebraska class

Brookside Elementary students in Mary Barbot’s fourth-grade classroom spent part of their Wednesday morning meeting fellow fourth-graders in Omaha, Neb., for Skype-A-Thon. (Pioneer photos/Meghan Gunther-Haas)

BIG RAPIDS — For many young students, a visit from another class is an exciting experience, especially if the visitors come from a different state.

Brookside Elementary teacher Mary Barbot connected her fourth-grade class to a group of fellow fourth-graders at Castelar Elementary School in Omaha, Neb., via Skype on Wednesday.

Noah Sweppenheiser checks a printed map and crosses states off as Brookside students’ questions are answered.

The meeting was a part of the worldwide event, Skype-A-Thon, which makes learning possible for students in a virtual setting and allows them to connect with people and places beyond the classroom, according to the Skype-A-Thon website. One aspect of Skype-A-Thon, which is celebrated Nov. 28 and 29 but was postponed for the Big Rapids crew due to technical difficulties, is a mystery Skype. For a mystery Skype, the students must guess the whereabouts of their guests’ school.

With only a few questions — “Does your state have a professional football team?” “Is your state east of the Mississippi River?” “Is your state in the Midwest region?” and “Does your state name have two words?” — Barbot’s class quickly guessed the correct state.

“Mrs. (Jennifer) Bentley has a friend in a different state who is a technology teacher,” Barbot explained. “He knew it was world Skype day. Then the students came up with the questions. We are learning about the regions. This was fun.”


Posted by Meghan Gunther-Haas

Meghan is the education reporter for the Pioneer and Herald Review. She can be reached at (231) 592-8382 or by email at

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