In my last post about classroom activities, which unfortunately came quite awhile ago, I shared how I have used Skype to bring experts into my classroom. Today, I would like to share another way you can use Skype specifically in Social Studies: Mystery Skype! During a Mystery Skype, classes ask yes/no questions aimed at narrowing down the partnering class's location. As the answers come in, students cross out the eliminated states until they finally end up with one state. From there, clues are given to identify the town the school is located in.
Sample Questions (taken from the class we did our first Mystery Skype with)
1. Are you in the United States
2. Are you west of the Mississippi River
3. Are you in the ___________ region
4. Is your state larger than Illinois in total area
5. Do you border a body of water
6. Do you border another country
7. Is there an NFL team in your state
8. Is your state's population greater than 5 million
9. Does your state border more than 5 states
10. Is your capital ______________
11. Is your state ___________
Students, teachers, and administrators alike all enjoy and see the benefits of Mystery Skype. It introduces students to peers from around the country, and allows them to learn more about the states than they could from a textbook alone. Students can frequently be heard asking when the next Mystery Skype will occur, which cannot always be heard when talking about other content area learning.
If you are interested in setting up a Mystery Skype for your class there are a few avenues you can pursue. First, if you are not on twitter, you need to sign up! Twitter is an invaluable PLN where you can connect with teachers around the world. On Twitter, follow #mysteryskype and you will find hundreds of teachers ready to connect. Second, sign up for Skype in education, a fabulous website that not only connects you with classroom and experts, but has a dedicated Mystery Skype section as well.
I encourage you to give Mystery Skypes a try! You will not regret it, and your students will have a blast!
4th and 5th Grade Students Learn to Code!
As part of Computer Science Education Week our 4th and 5th grade students participated in the Hour of Code. We chose Khan Academy's Hour of Code website because we liked the video tutorials, and felt that the easy to use interface would be best for our students. As the name implies, during this hour our students learned basic computer coding through videos and challenges. The response from students was mixed, some were glued to their screens and did not want to stop, others were quickly frustrated. For those who enjoyed the experience, they learned basic coding, and a few went on to Kahn Academy's advanced coding lessons. One student moved on to using Scratch and even creating his own 3D dog catcher game through AgentCubes! Whether you have one student, or an entire class that are interested in computers, I highly recommend you explore the free coding resources available, and introduce them computer coding!