On Thursday of this week, my 5th and 6th grade beginner ESL students and I participated in a Mystery Skype session with a class in Connecticut, USA. This was my first Mystery Skype and I was nervous. In fact, the day before our scheduled session, I emailed my partner teacher to say that I was getting cold feet. Although, she was very understanding of my hesitation as a first time Mystery Skyper, she encouraged me to stick to our schedule and reassured me that everything would turn out great. And, guess what? It did!
My partner teacher and I emailed several times and Skyped ourselves in preparation for our Mystery Skype.
Even though we had a holiday on Wednesday and I couldn’t adequately prep my kids for the Mystery Skype, I still had enough time Thursday morning to get them ready. They caught on immediately, which speaks to the power of keeping things simple and not belabouring a point, and we were ready to go on time. Each group correctly guessed the other’s location. My students needed a little bit of help but overall they did really well.
So, now that I’ve been baptized into the world of doing Mystery Skypes, the following are my take aways so that the next Mystery Skype session is even better.
- It’s important to remind students that this is basically a geography project. They need to think in terms of asking questions that will help them pinpoint the location of the class we are Skyping with.
- I assigned some students to be on the computer to help with searching for the place that the other class was located but that was too vague of a direction. Selecting some websites that will help them with this task would have been more helpful.
- I must remember to take pictures next time!
- Although my students prepped for the Mystery Skype by writing down two to three questions they could ask our partner class, it might be a good idea to maintain a chart or document of the most helpful questions.
- It is much easier for a class in the US to guess our location than for us to guess the location of a class in the US. None of my students are from the US and although most have visited they are not familiar with the states that make up the US and much less with the cities within those states. However, the kids did a great job using the atlas to narrow down the location of our partner class.
- Have several different atlases available.
- Insist on quiet during the Skype session since, at times, the buzz on our end made it difficult for our friends to hear us at the other end.