The 1st #MysterySkype Experience

When I last posted about #mysteryskype, the 5th grade class was just getting started on preparing for their very first session with a class in North Carolina. Our first trial run through was a rough one, though necessary, and allowed us to figure out the kinks in our process. I finished drawing up plans for the regular classroom teacher, and left location challenges for his class to solve to practice for the actual Skype session. I wouldn’t be back at the school until the Friday of our Skype date, so I was a bit worried that things might not actually work out as planned or go smoothly.

I checked in with the regular teacher on Friday morning, and he reported that things had improved greatly. I set up about putting together our setup while the students practiced one final time before the Skype session. Of course I would have issues with my computer running slowly, but the kids happily attributed that to the fact that it was Friday the 13th. I did get everything into place though and set up. The other class was ready before us, and we were able to get started about 15 minutes early. I had some issues getting the sound to work with the one system, so I had to switch over, but once that was taken care of, we were ready to begin.

Our class began with our introductions, and then we played “Rock, Paper, Scissors” to see who got to ask the first question. Unlike in our practice session, the students were armed with a first question in mind. We won the game, and got to ask the first question. From there, the session proceeded, with each class asking questions back and forth. Our setup allowed for two students in front to answer the questions asked/ask their classmates’
questions. Four students were message runners for areas of the room, and the rest of the students were using Google Maps and a laminated map of the United States to research and narrow down locations. Their teacher had helped them develop the “cut in half” strategy, and they had to work to cut the area left to work with in half with each question.

The North Carolina class figured out our location first by guessing our state. We had prepared our class to search as deep as a specific town, just in case. It only took about two more questions before our class figured out the state for the other class.

Then came the fun part- school, community, and state information! Without giving away the specific name of the school, each class talked about the makeup of their school, the type of day or special projects, the community around them, and then some state information. Our class had not had much time to research their information, but we really enjoyed what the other class did. They had a speaker for the school, the community, and the state, and broke their presentation down that way. It is something this class noted and may consider for future sessions. I made sure to record this part for documentation, and so that we could replay the video to the students in the future.

We then said our goodbyes and began our reflection on the activity. I was thoroughly impressed with the students’ work and behavior on camera, as was their teacher. The students commented on this as well, and how well they worked together. The only improvement we really had for the students was that they needed to be faster in getting their questions to the question runner and then deciding which question to ask.

The students had been promised that they could do at least one more Skype session before the school year ended if they did well on their first one. I’ve set about contacting the two classrooms that wanted to set up sessions with us if our first session went well. We are scheduled to do our 2nd Mystery Skype May 20 in the morning. This time, we’ll be working with a school from Missouri!

If you want to check out these teachers from our first session on Twitter, or get in touch with them for a Mystery Skype session of your own, contact @agcrilley or @MrsPageTurner. I’m sure they’d love to hear from you!

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