by Hope Morley
Need ideas for how to use video chats as learning opportunities in your classroom? Mystery Skype can turn your students into modern-day detectives! As you may already know, Skype is a great resource for educators; it allows your class to connect with adults and other students around the world.
Mystery Skype is generally used as a “global guessing game” played by two classrooms: each class gets 20 questions to figure out where in the country or world the other class is. However, Mystery Skype can also be used to talk to experts in subjects that students are studying or to individuals whose careers you want the class to learn more about. Finally, Mystery Skype can be used as a tool for students to practice a foreign language with native speakers and for English language learners to hone their English skills.
Before the Mystery Skype Session
To get started, follow these steps to begin your own adventure.
(1) Sign up at the Skype in the Classroom Mystery Skype web page. This will bring you into contact with other educators and professionals who might be a good resource for your classroom.
(2) Connect with the Mystery Skype community. Skype’s education page includes interested classes, virtual field trips, and experts looking for classrooms to connect with.
(3) Choose a date and time with a classroom or individual. When arranging the chat, make sure to keep different time zones in mind—and don’t forget about the International Date Line!
(4) Set rules with the other party. Will the call be recorded? Which classroom will ask the first question? What is the time parameter? Figuring out these details ahead of time will help things run smoothly.
(5) Acquire parental and administrative permission. This standard practice for any and all video chats protects the students, the instructors, and the administration.
(6) Assign roles to your students. The Mystery Skype site suggests “greeters, question keepers … bloggers, photographers, live tweeters, reporters” as options. Internet searchers and mappers are other jobs that could improve the class’s chances of figuring out the other classroom’s location or person’s career.
(7) Instruct the class to brainstorm questions. On her blog, Wisconsin teacher Pernille Ripp offers a great list of questions as well as additional tips for those new to Mystery Skype.
(8) Make a test call. To ensure that your software is working and up to date, schedule a short test run with another teacher.
During the Mystery Skype Session
If necessary, remind students to talk one at a time. Students should speak clearly and at an appropriate volume while looking into the camera.
After the Mystery Skype Session
Discuss how the adventure unfolded. With the class, create a list of questions and techniques that were most effective. Keep these on hand during your next Mystery Skype session.
By accessing the global community through Mystery Skype, you can increase student engagement and help your students improve their geography, language, comprehension, and teamwork skills.
Hope Morley is a consultant and social media coordinator for Green Light Professional Development. She writes about social media, conferences, and anything else on the web that helps both students and teachers learn. Follow her @GreenlightLT.