Thursday, April 17, 2014

Beyond Bellevue: Mystery Skype Takes Students on a Geography Quest

Fifth graders in  Andy Gregory’s classroom raced in from recess eager to #mysteryskype. The greeters quickly slid into the seats in front of the computer awaiting the call while classmates all moved into groups based on their mystery skype jobs.  
The Greeters 

Minutes later, friendly faces greeted them and the #mysteryskype was on! The room was buzzing as Mr. Gregory’s students collaborated, shared information, developed questions, and logically reasoned to determine the mystery location.  Each class took turns asking yes / not questions. As the states were narrowed down, they worked with urgency to be the first class to guess. Who would be first?

    The Mystery Skype Begins

It was close, but our new friends in New York discovered our state first and erupted in cheers.  Afterwards, the students had a few minutes to share and compare their states and ask a few questions to one another.  Our students proudly shared about our state and listened intently as the students in New York told them about landmarks, attractions, and what life is like in New York.  It was a fun, inspiring learning experience.  Students are eager for the next #mysteryskype!  In the meantime, they will continue to hone their geography and questioning skills for the next week.

How does a mystery skype work?

#mysteryskype is a geography game that students play with other classrooms around the world. Classes take turns asking yes / no questions with the goal of discovering where the mystery class is from.  Based on the answers to the questions, students narrow down the possibilities.  When they think they know the locations, they guess!

Skills Utilized in a Mystery Skype:
Critical Thinking
Listening to others
Working together
Problem Solving

Lessons Learned

  • It is fun to work together.
  • Students did a great job asking specific questions. Good questions are key to narrowing down the possibilities.
  • Pair the logical reasoners and mappers together so it is easier for them to collaborate.
  • Arranging the desks in groups makes it easier for students to move around the room and for groups to work together.
  • Table tents on the tables make it easier and quicker for students to get into groups.
  • Perhaps add another job of summarizer, a person or people who share information about the school and state.

Would you like to join the fun? Check out the Q and A.
Q: How do I get started?
A: Find a classroom to partner with on Twitter or Google + Communities. On Twitter, pull up the hashtag #mysteryskype. You will discover thousands of educators ready to connect. You can also find classrooms on Google +. Search for the Mystery Hangout community and join. Start reading the posts and make a connection.

Q: What equipment is needed?
A: A computer, Internet connection, and projector. You will also need maps, plastic overlays, iPad (or camera) and dry erase markers.

Q:  Are there any resources to get started?

A:  Yes! Check out these handouts on the job and questions.
Mystery Skype Questions

Q: What does a Mystery Hangout look like?
A: Check out Natalie's video of a Mystery Hangout in Mrs. Evon's Class

Written by Ann Feldmann

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