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City Students Take Part In Virtual Lessons

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With fewer large high schools and more smaller schools, students often don't have as many different courses to choose from they used to. But now some schools are trying to bridge the gap by using technology to share teachers. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.

When a student at the NYC iSchool in Lower Manhattan asks her English teacher a question, the answer comes from the Bronx. It's class taught through video chat. At the NYC iSchool, a new selective high school focused on technology, there isn't the budget for all the advanced placement courses students want.

"There is no question that that is the drawback of small schools that we can't have the breadth of offerings of large schools," said NYC iSchool Principal Alisa Berger.

This year, Berger hired four teachers at the East Bronx Academy to teach one period a day at the iSchool.

"A school is not just the four walls that you teach in. It’s anywhere and every teacher is a teacher to every child in this city," said Teacher Erick Odom.

The teachers video chat directly with the Manhattan students, while simultaneously sharing documents on their computers. Sometimes the teachers work with two groups of students at once: their students in the Bronx and those in Manhattan.

"It's also really neat to build a connection between two schools in very different areas," said Teacher Catherine Mitchell.

But both teachers and students admit the connection isn't always as smooth, or strong, as it could be.

"Often I tell them they can go through the lesson without me if the connection is bad. But there's things sometimes that I really want to say to them," Mitchell said.

But the students say they're still learning.

"It definitely is working. I don't know if it is just because she is a good teacher or because it's just kind of a good way to learn," said Student Angelica Modabber.

It might be more challenging if the students weren't in advanced classes or with subjects like science. But the principals believe there are a lot of opportunities for students if schools can share teachers across buildings and even boroughs.

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