Thursday, January 23, 2020

Our First Mystery Skype at Bethel Middle School

I started working as the teacher-librarian at Bethel Middle School in August of 2019. In my previous job, I really enjoyed helping teachers connect to distant schools and other places using Skype and Google Hangouts. It is a thrill to see students learn about destinations they may never get to physically visit through such connections. It is also refreshing to see teachers step out of their comfort zones by connecting their classrooms. Since coming to Bethel, I've been looking forward to introducing Mystery Skype to students and teachers. Luckily, I had a teacher in another state contact me about scheduling a session via Twitter in September. I pitched it to a few teachers at school, and we were able to set up a time that worked!

Mystery Skype is a global guessing game that uses Microsoft Skype to connect the participating schools. The students do not know the location of the other school, and they must guess where they are by using “yes” or “no” questions only. Prior to the session, I shared how we would set up the library for the Mystery Skype. We had the following jobs available to students:

Inquirers/ Responders - these students are stationed at the webcam
Atlas Checkers - these students use printed maps and atlases to narrow down possible locations
Logic Reasoners - these students help decide what the responses and questions will be
Photographers - these students used our library iPads to take photos of the event
Video Camera Operators - these students used our library iPads to take videos of the event
Question Keepers - these students recorded the questions and responses
Runners - go back and forth among team members to relay information

On October 11, 2019, the geography class connected with Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child in Summit, New Jersey for their first Mystery Skype session. 

(The class at Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child)

One of our Atlas Checkers in action!

Our students discovered that the other school was in NJ after only 9 questions!

At the end of the session, our students came to the webcam and shared about where we live. The students in NJ also shared about their school and town. It was a very engaging class period for everyone! This activity generated a lot of excitement. We are already working with a school outside of the United States to plan another Mystery Skype session in 2020! I can't wait to see what our students learn!

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