Thursday, February 11, 2016

Mystery Skype -- Connect Your Students to the World

Today's blogger is Callie Hoppes. Callie is a second grade high ability teacher at Lakeside Elementary, MSD of Warren Township.

I am always on the search to bring imaginative ways of learning into my classroom. When I found Mystery Skype (Mystery Hangout) last year I was beyond excited and my kids were too! This year our goal is to virtually visit all 50 states and more! Today we were in Ar-Kansas, or as we now know...Arkansas.
Mystery Skype is a classroom geography game that helps create a global community of learners. It is played by two classrooms in two different states or countries. Mystery Skype involves problem solving, critical thinking and helps promote good speaking/listening skills.

During Mystery Skype students go through a process of yes or no questioning. The goal is to try and figure out where the other classroom is before they guess your location. After the game, it is fun to learn about each others school, town and state.

Students will quickly take pride in their jobs during the game. While it’s important to have a set of jobs for your first couple of Skypes, it is also important for the students to take ownership and tweak the jobs to fit your classroom environment. Here’s a list of possible jobs you might want to incorporate into your first Mystery Skypes:

Greeter ~ This student will greet the other classroom and start the game. We usually start with a hello and a version of rock, paper, scissors.

Questioners ~ These are students that have their technology notebooks out and have a set of questions they have written ready to go. (All students have questions written down, but we choose 5-10 to be ready with their questions).

Answerers ~ These students are fact checking with each other after the question comes in. They will come to a consensus on what our answer will be for the yes or no question asked.

Mappers ~ I have 15 dry erase maps. These have been a great tool to have! 10 or more students (they can partner up) have these to mark on during the game.

Thinker ~ This student holds up a white board in front of the camera that says “THINKING.” This is done after we have been asked a question and we are all working furiously to mark off states or countries.

Recorder ~ 2 or more students that stand at the board recording answers to our questions.

Computer Mappers ~ These students are on their computers referring to maps.

Supervisiors ~ 2 students that walk around and keep everyone on task and quiet during times we need to hear questions or answers. This job is very important and we have set in place non-negotiables.

Tweeters ~ These students have written facts about our state, city and school. They take turns reading them at the end to connect on a personal level. We always end our questions with “Tell us about your _________.”

Jobs are important in keeping everything organized and running smoothly in any operation. Mystery Skype is no different. Just remember the jobs need to fit the classroom. Over the last two years I have seen many different ways classrooms operate during Mystery Skype. Also, it can be messy at first, but it will start to run smoothly if you have the right jobs in place. You will be amazed at their teamwork and ability to solve problems while thinking critically!

I have set up a Google+ Community titled Mystery Skype 2016 to help educators find Mystery Skype partners. Please join us if you are interested in connecting your classroom to the world!

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