YORKTOWN, N.Y. – What is a teacher to do when a student asks a question and they don’t know the answer? Look in a textbook? Google it? Perhaps.

But Jen Saldutti, a first-grade teacher at Mohansic Elementary School, had an even better option.

On Thursday, May 3, Saldutti and her students digitally connected, via Skype, with a member of The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. The students had just finished reading “The One and Only Ivan,” in which a silverback gorilla name Ivan befriends an elephant named Stella while in captivity. Naturally, the students had questions.

Sign Up for E-News

“They learned about elephants and where they come from,” Saldutti said.

The students spent the day before preparing questions and making their own elephant T-shirts, which they wore during the Skype call.

“Everyone got to write a question and ask a question,” Saldutti said.

Next, the students are going to design and create a map of their own elephant sanctuary.

“They really care for these animals now,” Saldutti said. “It’s really bringing the big world into the classroom.”

Her class does Skype calls about once a month, Saldutti said. The class recently connected with someone stationed aboard a submarine.