Skype is an incredible tool teachers have at their fingertips allowing them to communicate with other classes and speakers around the world. Skype in the Classroom provides teachers with opportunities to share lessons, join lessons, and find guest speakers for their classrooms. A very popular Skype in the Classroom lesson is Mystery Skype. My class recently held a Mystery Skype with the village of Nikolai. Nikolai is a small village along the Iditarod Trail. Tuesday (11/11/14) I will post a Checkpoint Checkup sharing information about Nikolai.
The objective in a Mystery Skype is to ask yes or no questions about location to determine where the other class is located. The questions should be centered around geography (directions, latitude/longitude, equator, bodies of water, mountain ranges, etc). The classes take turns asking each other questions while trying to locate each other.
A Mystery Skype does not necessarily have to be with another class. The reason we chose to do a Mystery Skype with Nikolai was to start a relationship with that class. My class will communicate and work with the Nikolai class over the next couple of weeks. This is a great way to start a relationship with another class as well as analyze the geography of their location. Jen Reiter, 2014 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™, held a Mystery Skype with a friend and Iditarod volunteer in New York, live from Central Park in front of the Balto statue. Maybe you have a friend or family member living or vacationing in Alaska. Have this person work with your class on a Mystery Skype. Another idea is to contact the museum in Cleveland, Ohio, home of stuffed (preserved and mounted) Balto. The Cleveland Museum of Natural History offers a distance learning program called Balto: A History of Humans, Huskies, and Health in Alaska. This program teaches students about the disease diptheria and how instrumental Balto was in the famous Serum Run. Balto reminds us how important sled dogs were in the history of Alaska. Preserving the use of these great athletes is why Joe Redington started this amazing race, the Iditarod. Participating in the distance learning program also provides students the opportunity to try on authentic Iditarod gear. Any Mystery Skype can turn into an unlimited amount of future assignments and projects to do with the other class.
When my class participates in a Mystery Skype, students are assigned specific jobs to complete during the Skype session.
Jobs: These can be modified to better fit your classroom. The following jobs are used in my classroom:
Greeters: The greeter introduces the class to the other class. Make sure the greeter doesn’t tell them the location of your class. Do identify the grade and subject of your class.
Q&A: This job is to ask the questions your class has for the other class. Q&A students will also answer any questions from the other class. Remember, questions must be yes or no. The Q&A person (or group) should be receiving new questions from the New Questions group as you are working.
Recorder: The recorder keeps track of all the questions your class asks the other class and records the answers on the board. This helps the other students work and determine their next question.
Videographer: This person takes video clips of your Skype session.
Photographer: The photographer takes pictures of your class working during the Skype session.
Google Earth: This job requires students to use Google Earth to narrow down the other class’ location. This group works with the New Questions group.
Mappers: The mappers use the class Atlas to narrow down the other class’ location. They also work with the New Questions group, as well as with the Google Earth group.
New Questions: This job requires students to work with the Google Earth and Mapper groups to create yes/no questions to ask the other class.
Runners: The runner runs (walk fast) the next question to the Q&A group.
Bloggers: The bloggers create a blog about the Mystery Skype with the other class. Our class’ blog will be posted to our Facebook and Twitter pages.
Twitter: This group is in charge of creating live tweets during the session. They will use #mysteryskype in each tweet.
When on Skype- look for Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™ to Skype with me and/or my class and/or contact me by email for additional information.