Tag Archives: Mystery Skype

Next Year Will Be Even Better – Skype in the Classroom

from supertintin.com
from supertintin.com

For many of us, at least in the United States, another school year is over.  Even as we eagerly embark on our rejuvenation journeys for the summer, you might be thinking, as I am, of new ideas for the next school year.  This week, I would like to share some of the improvements I hope to make in my classroom for the 2013-2014 school year.  Today’s post is about using Skype in the classroom.

I say that I am going to do it every year, and I never do.  I tried it once a few years ago, and it was a bit of a disaster – completely disorganized, kids who were bored watching other kids doing it, kids who were doing it with nothing to say.

But then I ran across this Mystery Skype article that I posted about in April, and I saw how it could be something manageable – and a highly engaging learning experience for my students.

I love that the site deals with the logistics, like assigned roles for the students, and possible questions.  I really could have used both of those things during our first experience!

I definitely plan to try this with my first graders next year.  Our theme is “Folktales” and we read stories from around the world.  At that age, even gifted first graders are still trying to figure out the differences between cities, countries, and continents – and they are absolutely fascinated with looking up locations on the globe and on Google Earth.

I also found Skype in the Classroom, which gives even more resources.

I’m trying to think of other ways to use Skype besides the typical ones (interviewing an author or  learning about an international classroom).  One way that I am considering is to bring it in to our Systems Thinking unit by having the students from different countries respond to a global issue and the way they see it effecting them.  Along the same lines, they could discuss their reactions to an event in history.  It might be fun to take some common idioms from different cultures and have the students complete or interpret them.  I’d also like to get some people to speak to my students about their passions, and Skype could open this up to more than local leaders.

Here are some more Skype resources in case you are interested.  However, I would love to hear any ideas you may have that are NOT on this list!

Mystery Skype

Tammy Egesdal's 4th grade, Forest City, Iowa
Tammy Egesdal’s 4th grade, Forest City, Iowa

Here is a great site that gives an awesome description of how to conduct a “Mystery Skype” session with another class, preferably in a very different part of the world.  Why would you want to plan a “Mystery Skype”?  Here are the goals as listed on the site:

  • Students will use map skills to find the location of the mystery classroom
  • Students will use communication and critical thinking skills to ask questions to help them find the mystery location.
  • Classes communicate with other classrooms via Skype or Google+ Hangouts.
  • Students will learn to respect and appreciate the cultures and customs of others.
  • Students will be able to see the differences and similarities between themselves and others around the world.

This fabulous resource offers suggestions for student roles, questions to ask, and clues to give to the other class. Mystery Skype also gives links to: a spreadsheet of teachers interested in participating in this project, a meeting planner so you can figure out the best time for your Skype call, and some other helpful links.

I can’t wait to sign my class up!