Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Mystery Skype Update

I wanted to give an update on our Mystery Skype sessions.  You can check out how our first session went by CLICKING HERE.  We have learned a great deal since that first session and have made changes for improvement.  As of now, we've participated in eight Mystery Skype sessions; three of them were in Canada and the rest have been in the U.S. 

I changed my students' roles a little since the first Skype session.  During our second Mystery Skype, I allowed every child to come to the webcam and ask/answer a question--that was just too confusing and I wouldn't recommend it!  During our third Skype call, I designated three inquirers; this ended up being perfect for our group, so we stuck with that for the rest of the sessions.  My three kiddos would rotate and take turns asking questions.  My third inquirer also acted as a "runner."  It has worked well.
Here are our current rules, roles, and routine(s):

Skype Rules:
  • Listen carefully.  Whisper only.  Do NOT talk while the other class is talking or while someone from our class is asking a question.
  • Stay in your designated area and work on your specified assignment.
  • Keep track of clues.
  • Create possible questions.
  • Be polite when speaking to each other and the other class.  Always reflect Christ.
Skype Roles:
  • Greeter
  • Scribe (will write information/clues on the dry erase board)
  • Inquirers (will ask questions of the other class)
  • Photographer
  • Think Tank (will use maps/atlases)
  • Google Mappers (will use iPads or BYOD)
  • Computer Mappers (will use the classroom computer)
  • Closer (will end the call politely)
  • Mathematician (will use MapQuest to find distance between our locations)
Skype Routine:
  • Find the country/state or province/city of the other classroom by asking only YES/NO questions.  A "YES" answer allows the class to ask a follow-up YES/NO question.  A "NO" answer gives the opposing group the chance to ask a question.  (FYI, sometimes we didn't use the follow-up question format...the students would decide on that when the call began).
  • The runner could clearly see guesses and possible questions; no one was calling out. 
Cute picture we snapped from @KatyGartside's class!
We loved the idea so much, we used a "We Are Thinking" sign in our next Mystery Skype call. 
Possible Questions/Clues:
The students came up with these and we just posted them on the board during our Skype calls.
Finally, here are my goals for the students, along with a list of pre-requisites for Mystery Skype.  Also, I'll include a list of post-call activities. 
Mystery Skype Goals:
  • Practice geography skills (authentic experiences bring learning to life for students)
  • Improve communication skills
  • Develop good questions
  • Work together to accomplish a goal
  • Make connections with other students across the globe (overcome geographic boundaries)
  • Practice computer search skills
  • Collect data and use deductive reasoning
  • Become reflective
  • Students will need to know facts about their state/city/school and be able to answer questions on those topics
  • Students will need to know how to read a map/atlas
  • Students will need to know how to conduct online searches and be able to assess a website for credibility
  • Students need to be able to use Google Maps and Google Earth
  • Students need to know how to conduct themselves in a group (e.g. etiquette/tact, listening skills, communication skills, etc.)
  • Students will formulate questions to ask of the other class
  • Students will need to be able to conduct an interview
  • Students will need to be able to use a digital camera to make image or video recordings
  • Students will need to have taken part in a simulated Mystery Skype with the classroom teacher
Post-call Activities:
  • Informal assessment--debrief by asking questions such as, "What worked well during the call?  What did not work well during the call?  What did you like the most/least?  What surprised you?  How can we improve for the next call?  What do you know now that you didn't know before the Skype call?  How is asking a question or being asked a question via Skype different from asking a question/being asked in the classroom?"
  • Write reflective blog posts/journal entries
  • Have students take a survey about their learning from the Mystery Skype session
  • Create a video recording of the debriefing session
  • Create a slideshow of the images collected during the call
  • Create an iMovie short film from the video clips taken during the call
  • For the teacher: host a parent/faculty presentation session about the activity


  1. I just read your first skype post and love that you have an update! I tried to find you on twitter to add you to my PLN, but didn't have any luck. Will you find me? @fifth82

  2. Sure! I just added my Twitter button to the blog yesterday; I hope it's working.

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