Day 93 (of 185) why mystery skype? With thanks to @korytellers

Day 93 (of 185) why mystery skype? With thanks to @korytellers
Why do a mystery Skype? There is almost certainly going to be tech difficulties (as there were). The questions kids want to ask won’t be questions (kinda like “those” queries at an assembly performance: how much do you make/how old are you/ I liked the show) etc etc

I’ve Mystery-Skype into classes before – sharing some snow games with some classes much closer to the Tropic of Cancer – and even as a guest reader (love sharing books by Canadian author Robert Munsch – and I can guess a big face on a screen snorting like a dragon may make for a unique book share experience…..

But I remember how neat it was as a student to send a letter to another class and (once in awhile) getting a response. I even used to use the concept of the Great Canadian Mail Race (along with google earth) to send class letters to random other grade 4/5 classes (the lesson was linked to latitude and longitude and calling out coordinates to get into a specific province and then look for the closest community to the “dot”). So, if Skype is the new snail-mail then why not use this to explore other classrooms in “real time”?!

And to be able to peer into another class using a live feed is very cool. Instant communication: questions and answers. Also problem solving as we play “20 questions” (or thereabouts) to identify where the mystery school is! And of course I have been inspired a great deal by the work that Kory Graham had shared via social media, so I was thrilled to be able to bring one of my @norshu83 classes “to” Wisconsin!

Tech difficulties: there will always be conflicts with Skype, Google hangouts etc – so it’s always good to have some backups. When it wasn’t working on my laptop, I shifted to my iPad. Of course if you have time, doing a test run the day before can be very handy to troubleshoot these issues…OR they can become teachable moments about not giving up and (my old class motto) of you don’t know what to do, do something. 

But……Once it got working, it became very engaging for the kids. And I was appreciative that Kory was patient with us as we solved our tech glitch! Nobody panicked. We knew that even this first step towards peeking into another school in another country would open the learners eyes to the idea that really, within North America, there are a LOT of similarities within our communities and our schools. It was good motivation for the students to see how to sort/ask questions to get to a good response (ie after asking “are you west of the Rockies” we don’t need to ask if they are to the east…..) it also helped us have a reason to better get to know our neighbors to the south and where the different states are located!

So while the mailing of a letter was great when that was all that was possible, it is great to have more tools at our disposal to engage students in a wider community of learning! And best of all, we are learning how to prepare and be ready for a next Mystery Skype! 

My learnings: we could have used a bit more time to sort out identifiers for each state. We started with:
West/East of the Rockies

West/East of the Mississippi

Border on water? (Pacific, Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, Great Lake)

An original 13 colonies state?

Is there NFL/NBA/NHL/MLB in the state
But we didn’t have time to narrow down within the state (but noticed that the interstate grid could be a good geographical marker: W/E of the I-5?

Hmmmm kinda reminds me of Where in the World is Carmen SanDiego – the more you are familiar with your geography, the easier it is to narrow down where mystery Skypers may be……!

A big thank you to @korytellers for letting us play!

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About technolandy

Principal of Sorrento Elementary Educator pushing 'technologization' in education: blending technology and curriculum seamlessly. Advocate for better understanding of Anxiety in Education (and use of self-regulation) Piloting ePortfolios
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