The 3rd #MysterySkype Experience & Wrap-Up

I’m a little late getting this written up and posted due to being away over the holiday weekend. We had our 3rd Mystery Skype experience last Friday, and it was a learning experience for sure. If I had the chance to redo it, I would definitely have changed how things went. Though it didn’t go very well, I know now what not to try next time so that the same issues don’t occur again. This is a reflection on a not-so-good experience.

Our first mistake was scheduling it in a bad time spot. Normally we had been able to finish up Skype calls within a half hour. We would have this time, except the class asked us if we wanted to guess down to city, and we agreed. That’s where things started to unravel. Our call ran over the 30 minute mark and began running into the students’ PE time. Since they were 5th graders, they knew that they were missing out and were antsy to go to PE. We were in the middle of the call, and the other class had just guessed our city, though we had not guessed theirs. A majority of the students were becoming disengaged and wanted to go to PE. I soon had to cut the guessing game short and explain what was going on. It took a lot of effort to get the students to say their part about their school, county, and state. I’m almost certain very few paid attention to most of what the other school said, which was a shame. Now I know to never schedule before any resource class or recess in the future. The last thing I want is for students to be disengaged and appear
unprofessional to the other class.

Our second mistake was agreeing to play down to the city within that short time. The students had had some practice doing so in class, but never by guessing down based on counties. They usually used landmark roads and the like to guess down to the city. This threw them all for a loop. They weren’t sure what to do or how to respond, and the whole issue with PE looming didn’t help matters one bit. In order to help prevent in the future, I would make sure classes had multiple ways of narrowing down, and having others use those same methods. When confronted with a new method during the actual call, it was just too frustrating to the students.

Even though our 3rd chat had issues, it was still fun to learn about the class from Iowa, and see how their school was different. They have a very tiny school, just over 60-some kids in a PK-8 school if I remember correctly. The class gave me some new ideas and ways to correct the above issues, and for that I’m glad. After all, not every activity will go as smoothly as I want, and when it doesn’t, then it’s time to reflect and see how to do better the next time.

Our final opportunity for a Mystery Skype experience hasn’t returned my tweets, so I am going to cancel it. The students have a lot going on tomorrow anyway. I do wish I had delved into Mystery Skype earlier this year for this particular class because just watching their growth with geography skills in the short period of time we did use it was phenomenal. Students didn’t realize it, but they had to get better with their US geography in order to be successful in the game. Though brief, it also gave them the opportunity to see how different areas of the United States were.

To be honest, I’m not sure where I will end up next year. I still don’t have a technology position, and I have also at this point applied for teaching positions. If I end up back in the classroom, I will use Mystery Skype from the very beginning of the year, and document the growth of the students from the very beginning. I would also make sure to have a follow-up written activity to have students reflect on what they have discovered, as well as a way to document their collaborative growth. Perhaps some kind of Skype Journal. Right now, these are just some big ideas, and not ones I’m going to delve too much into until I know what I will be doing next school year.

I’ve had a teacher ask me to provide some more information about setting up for doing Mystery Skype, and also Mystery Number for little guys. I plan to hopefully write some posts that show how I helped this particular class set up, and provide some in depth information. The best thing about preparing for Mystery Skype is that there’s no one right way to do it. As long as the method of preparation works, it’s a “right way”.

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