Monday, April 4, 2011

Mystery Skype

Today I had one of my 4th grade teachers do a mystery skype with a class from Michigan. It was the first time any of my classrooms had skyped before so it was a very exciting experience for all of us. I connected with @powell4thgrade on twitter who was asking for any of her followers if they wanted to do a "mystery skype" so of course I volunteered one of my teachers to particpate. Next I had to find a 4th grade teacher who was willing to give this a shot and the first teacher I approached jumped at this opportunity. The next step was getting this organized within a week. So, @powell4thgrade and myself communicated to work out all the details. Questions were shared ahead of time so each classroom could prepare for the "big" day. A glog was even created to share photos ahead of time between the two classrooms.
Before we knew it, it was Friday and of we had a few technical difficulties but thanks to our tech support it was worked out in a matter of a few minutes.
By 9:40 we were meeting @powell4thgrade classroom. Kids were hovered around the laptop, trying to get a good view of who they were meeting for the first time. We introduced ourselves and then started the "mystery" skype activity. Each classroom took a turn in revealing hints about their state. All students from each classroom were very attentive and responsive to each other. Once all hints were given out, each classroom got to "guess" the state that the students were from. Each classroom was able to answer correctly on the first try.

So I then asked, "Which clue was the one that gave our state away?". One student said, the student's sweatshirt... We all busted up laughing because neither myself nor the classroom teacher realized she was wearing a sweatshirt with our state's name. Thank goodness she was the last student to reveal our hint. Then another student said our hint about the bodies of water that surround or go through our state and one other person said when we told them which states border our state. Being that our state has eight bordering states and there is only one other state like ours, it probably did help them narrow it down. For our students it was the bodies of water along with the state capital that helped us determine where they were from.
From there we chatted a bit longer about blogging with one another and from there said our goodbyes.

After it was all said and done, I processed this activity with these students because I feel they need to understand not only what skype is but how it can be used in the classroom as a tool not a toy. Many times, students walk away from an activity thinking the only lesson in it was that we had "fun" doing it. Not that learning was taking place.

I want to thank @powell4thgrade for inviting us to joing them in this "Mystery Skype" adventure. We had fun and it was a valuable learning experience. We look forward to skyping not only with @powell4thgrade but with others too. Our next big adventure will be to connect with @powell4thgrade through student blogs. I will let you know how this goes in a few weeks.

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