Saturday, May 28, 2016

Students Teach The Mystery of Skype!

About a month ago, one of my Microsoft Innovative Expert Educator colleagues, Mrs. Karey Killian, contacted me on Twitter. Karey is a teacher librarian at the Milton Area School District in Milton, Pennsylvania. We were trying to find a time to Mystery Skype before the semester ended. As we were brainstorming, we had the idea to alter the session to have our high school students present Mystery Skype tips and tricks to her 5th grade students. 

How We Planned and Held the Event 

I visited with one of our social studies teachers, Mr. Brooks Lee, about his students participating in this event. He immediately wanted his first period class to be the presenters since they had had so much experience with Skype and Google Hangouts this year. After talking with Mrs. Killian, we discovered that she had a time available to connect that worked for Brooks' first period class. We had to prepare for a 30 minute session.

We decided to have the students brainstorm what content should be shared with the distant school. Mr. Lee and I led the session. Students decided to focus on the iPad Maps app (and Google Maps) at Mrs. Killian's request. They also wanted to give tips about the Map Eliminator job, the Logic Reasoner job, and the Inquirer job. Brooks wrote down their tips on the board as each topic was discussed. Visit this link to view a description of our Mystery Skype set up in the classroom. 

Test Connection

Mrs. Killian and I decided to try a test Skype connection on the morning of the event. On this particular morning, both of us had issues with our computers; and we had to reboot. My computer's webcam wasn't functioning correctly prior to the reboot. We finally made a connection and were able to test our video and audio successfully. Mrs. Killian noticed that there was a lag in my audio, and I noticed that my iPad Reflector screen share app wasn't working correctly. We did discover that the screen share function on Skype worked during the test session. We would have to find a solution for sharing the iPad display.

The Event

We were able to connect with no difficulties at the arranged time. Students presented in the following order:

2 students share about using Google Maps on the iPad
iPad and Google Maps- Our learners demonstrated how to use the zoom in/ zoom out features to locate smaller locations and towns. They also showed tactics to use when searching on maps (using country name and different map features like satellite and hybrid views). The student presenters focused on Google Maps. They used the screen share function on Skype to demonstrate Google Maps. When they showed these functions on the iPads, they had to hold the iPads close to the webcam since our Reflector app still wasn't working.

Map Eliminator- These students showed how participants should have large scale and smaller scale print maps ready to swap out as the mystery location is narrowed down. We use laminated maps that our students can write on/ cross out eliminated areas.

Logic Reasoners- Students explained how this position has to work well with all other parts of the Mystery Skype team. They recommended using map coordinates to narrow down options. They also reminded their audience to refrain from simply guessing at random. 

2 students discuss tips for Logic Reasoners
Inquirers- These students discussed that clothing should not be worn that might give away their location. Individuals in this job should use a "poker face" when the opposing team is getting close to guessing the correct location. They also stated that Inquirers should not ask questions without consulting the Logic Reasoners. 

At the end of the event, one of Mrs. Killian's students shared that she had discovered our location! Mr. Lee and I were very impressed by her attention to detail! The session went by very quickly!

Mrs. Killian's Reflection 

The scholars at LHS were great!  We could tell they spent a great deal of time considering the best options and method of delivery for their lesson.  Mr. Lee's students shared many tips for using the map app that appealed to the 5th graders. Several of my students were on the map app trying the different options as they were being presented.   I was completely shocked when Morgan, 5th grader, revealed their location to me! While the high school students were sharing tips for finding locations, she was doing some research of her own using the map app and search engine.  She pinned their location on the map and was able to compare how far away they are from Milton, PA All from your accent, Skype nameLHS, the clock in the background (different time zone), and I think she picked up on a clue when the students were showing map tips. We are training our students to be the best researchers and detectives in a world of limitless information. 
At the time of our call, the screen share option wasn't working correctly.  Mr. Lee's students compensated well by holding the iPad to the webcam so that my students could see the details they were showing on the map.  This actually proved to be a better solution because it appears larger on our screen instead of the smaller split screen.  

Mr. Lee's Reflection 

When Mr. Evans approached me about having my students teach other students via Skype, I knew it was something we had to do. My students were very excited for the opportunity to demonstrate some techniques and strategies for Mystery Skype to Mrs. Killian's class. We spent some time during the days prior to the connection thinking about what challenges we faced when Mystery Skyping in the past and what advice we could give to a younger group that is getting more acquainted with the awesome experiences that Mystery Skyping creates. Our students came up with some really good advice and divided themselves into groups so they could take turns explaining Google Maps for iPad, as well as some of the keys roles involved in Mystery Skype. Mrs. Killian's group was very respectful and asked some great questions; and one of her students even figured out where we were! Overall, it was a great way for us to wrap up the year, and our students said they would love to do this again in the future. 

Next Steps

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It was great to see our students step up and take the lead for this teaching session. This opened my mind up to more possibilities in the future. I'm going to seek opportunities for our learners to teach material to other schools via Skype. I would love to see our students teach Mystery Skype to lower grades in our school district and to surrounding schools. I would also enjoy seeing our students teach this activity to teachers! This was a first step into a bigger world. We will keep working to help our learners improve this process!

This is how we used Twitter and Skype to connect to a teenage inventor in Tennessee!

Reflecting on a year of connections in our school library.

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