Do you remember this scene from Back to the Future?
Marty McFly: Wait a minute. Wait a minute Doc, uh, are you telling me you built a time machine out of a DeLorean?
Doc: The way I see it, if you’re going to build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some style… a DeLorean!
Marty was shocked at Doc’s invention—a time machine out of a sporty DeLorean! How crazy was he?
Back in 1985, when Back to the Future was released, teachers taught out of books and students were confined to the four walls of a classroom. Back then, the classroom was the only learning environment and the occasional escape came from a video tape or TV. Back then, students could only dream of visiting other places and learning from other cultures.
Time travel in the DeLorean occurred because of the Flux Capacitor, a genius invention by Doc. Today, travel across time and space occurs daily. Teachers are the Docs of today, while Skype is the DeLorean and the internet is the Flux Capacitor, transporting students around the globe in style!
Skype in the Classroom, a free community that offers live transformative educational experiences for students, has broken down classroom walls. Students who once could only dream of being transported to a different place and time can now do it. With Skype in the Classroom, students can learn about other cultures, speak to students on the other side of the globe, and make connections never before thought possible in a traditional classroom setting.
It has never been as easy as it is now to travel around the world and empower students’ learning. Skype in the Classroom gives students the opportunity to learn about new countries, explore different cultures, and visit places not possible before, like far-away national parks and world-class museums. Skype in the Classroom brings the world to your students, creating global awareness and helping them develop important social skills, such as empathy and tolerance.
Teachers can use Skype in the Classroom to assist students in learning about science and social studies, among many other subjects. Through Virtual Field Trips, students can visit a national park that is hundreds of miles away to learn about its environment and wildlife—without ever leaving their classroom.
We still remember one of our students’ favorite Skype experiences from last year. We were working on a real-world, problem-based lesson about endangered animals. Our students had so many questions that we could not answer. As we talked more about how to help our students, we remembered the Skype in the Classroom website and all of the resources available on it. With just a few mouse clicks, we got our Flux Capacitor ready and turned on our DeLorean to schedule several Skype calls with experts in this field.
The outcome of these Skype calls could not have been better. Our students connected with experts from around the world who answered their questions and even motivated them to create a school foundation to help endangered species. The outcome of this project was more than we could have hoped for!
Skype in the Classroom also gives teachers and students the opportunity to connect with classrooms around the world, allowing them to work together to create awareness and work for change. Last year, two of our classes connected with another class to work on a real-world project. This project started when we went on a Virtual Field Trip to a national park in the United States. Our students quickly realized there was a lack of Spanish materials for park visitors and decided they wanted to do something about it. Working with our two classes in the United States and another class in Spain, we created Spanish guides for 32 national parks in the United States.
In our Skype DeLorean, students connected with each other, managed their time, and set up meetings. Students used Skype to work collaboratively and interdependently on this project. We broke down the walls of our classroom and gave our students the opportunity to learn from students who were thousands of miles away.
Through this project, our students were able to experience what Doc experienced in Back to the Future. They broke the rules as Doc did, breaking down the walls and physical barriers to become global citizens. As teachers, we did not care that their translated guides were perfect, we cared about the authentic learning that happened during this process. Our students learned about different cultures, different perspectives, and different ways to solve problems.
In this day and age, the global network that we have access to through Skype in the Classroom—our Flux Capacitor—gives us endless possibilities. Students need to take advantage of it and learn how to drive their own DeLorean to become global citizens and expand their horizons. As a wise man once said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” As teachers, it is our responsibility to use the power of the modern-day DeLorean wisely. We have a powerful tool in our hands with endless possibilities to transform our students’ learning into the learning of the “future.”
“Your future hasn’t been written yet. No one’s has. Your future is whatever you make it. So, make it a good one.” -Doc Brow
Twinning is winning with the Herraez-Velazquez brothers from Spain. Mario and Alberto were born and raised in Salamanca, Spain and came to Utah several years ago on a scholarship to teach. They graduated from the University of Valladolid with a Bachelors in Education. After coming to Utah and starting their teaching careers, they were hungry for more learning. The twins attended the University of Utah where they graduated with a Masters in Education from participating school International University of La Rioja. They are currently pursuing another Masters focused on English Language.
Currently they both teach at Canyon Creek Elementary School in Farmington, Utah. Mario teaches 1st grade and Alberto teaches 6th grade, where their students are part of the Spanish/English Immersion program. Both Mario and Alberto are heavy users of technology and share that passion with their students who participate in STEAM, coding, robotics, podcasting, and makerspace activities, just to name a few. When they are not in the classroom, you can find them traveling or enjoying outdoor activities like hiking, snowboarding, rock climbing, and kayaking. Get inspired and follow them on Twitter (@alberto_hrv and @mmarioherraez).