Today’s post is brought to you by Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts and Skype Master Teachers Kyle Calderwood and Stacey Ryan.
Skype in the Classroom launched in December of 2010 and has since become a popular way for teachers and students to engage with colleagues and classrooms around the globe. As an online platform, it helps teachers connect with each other, find lessons, book guest speakers, and even take their classes on virtual field trips. Educators, along with their classrooms, can also participate in a Mystery Skype game—a critical thinking challenge that has conquered the hearts of teachers and students all over the world, and builds students’ cultural awareness, critical thinking, and geography skills.
Skype in the Classroom is part of the Microsoft Educator Community and has a vibrant community of teachers, with educators participating on every continent (yes, even Antarctica!). To join in, create a profile on the Microsoft Educator Community. Setting up your profile gives you access to book Skype partners and the ability to message other educators. It also allows you to be found by other educators should they wish to connect with you. Now let’s dive in into the Mystery Skype game offered through Skype in the Classroom.
Scheduling a Mystery Skype
Mystery Skype is an educational game that connects two classrooms from different parts of the world. The teachers will know where (and who) they’re calling but students will not. The goal of Mystery Skype is to locate the other class geographically by asking Yes/No questions (i.e. Are you East of the Mississippi River?). This type of experience gets all your students engaged and geographically proficient!
Before you begin, make sure you have the parents’ permissions to film and/or publish images of their children on the internet. If there are any restrictions, be sure to keep those students out of camera range but fully involved within a group. Appearing on a video teaches students good digital citizenship by not only protecting themselves but also how to act on camera. I always tell our students that they are not only representing their class but their grade, school, city, state and even country when we talk to other classes around the globe.
Consider dividing students into groups and assigning a different role to each group to be responsible for during the Skype call. Some role suggestions could be:
- Students who are on camera asking the questions
- Researchers to assist those asking questions
- Students who keep track of questions that were asked
- Mappers to cross off parts of the world that have been eliminated
- Documentarians (allow students to record video or take photos of your Skype call)
- Map research (those students on a device looking at interactive maps)
So how do you find another classroom to play Mystery Skype with your students? Scroll through the quick start guide below and you can get yourself ready with 5 simple steps.
Exciting news: Our first live Global Mystery Skype Game with GoNoodle!