One of my goals as the Technology Integration Specialist is to help teachers utilize technology to help make learning meaningful for students. Just like most new things, technology integration isn’t always an easy process, it’s certainly not without its snags, and it can be incredibly frustrating.
Technology can also be really rewarding, too! One of the second grade classes I work with was open to the idea of a Mystery Skype with another class. There are myriad ways to run a Mystery Skype based on the age of your students, your curricular goals, the amount of technology available, etc. You can read more about the Mystery Skype movement here. The basic premise is that teachers express their interest in connecting via Skype by signing up. Teachers then get “matched up” and coordinate a Skype call. The goal is to try to figure out where the other class is from by asking questions and researching based on the answers given. Concurrently, students are providing the other class clues about their location and answering questions the other class asks.
As I mentioned, it is possible to make a Mystery Skype session fit your classroom goals. For our students, we wanted them to have a better understanding of the relative location of Michigan. We also wanted them to review their knowledge of cardinal directions, map-reading abilities, and deductive reasoning.
Prior to our call, we generated a list of clues we would provide to the other class. We wanted to make sure we didn’t make them so obscure no one would be able to guess, but we didn’t want to give it away, either! Here is a partial list of what we came up with:
- Our state touches (borders) 3 other states
- Our state borders another country
- We have all 4 seasons
- Our state has water on both sides
- Our state is in two parts
- Our state is shaped like a hand
Soon, it was time to start our Mystery Skype! As with all technology…we hit a bit of a snag. We weren’t able to project the laptop (which had the webcam) to the Promethean Board. Therefore, students had to crowd around my little laptop and it was hard to hear. But, we made it work!
looking at their atlases and practicing their deductive reasoning:
and (eventually) making a guess.
Our Mystery Skype-ers were from Iowa. Some of the clues that helped us to figure it out included “our state is in the middle, our state is medium, the Mississippi River is to our east.” We helped the students eliminate states based on the clues given. We also kept a list of the clues the other class gave us.
Once we figured out the state, the other class guess which state we were from – and they were right! After that, each class asked several questions of the other classroom. Typical second grade questions included things like – “What do you have for lunch?” and “What do you do at recess?” It was so great to see the kids learning and interacting with another classroom in another part of the country. Students got to see and hear about some of the similarities and differences between themselves and the other classroom. It was a great lesson in breaking down barriers and helping kids to learn about another part of the country.
Special thanks to our friends at Prescott Elementary in Dubuque, Iowa, Ms. Kane and Ms. Weidert for participating with us!