Mystery Skype: Design Phase

This quarter we are exploring the ISTE Teacher Standards and in order to take that learning to the next level, in knowledge and practice, we are planning and facilitating Global Collaborative Projects (GCP). I introduce the project and give an overview of my plans in a previous post, check it out here. In this post, I outline my design for the project and review the 6 A’s of project design:

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6 A’s of Project Design

Authenticity
My students attend a small non-secular school where they participate in a Hebrew immersion program for half of their school day. I was talking to a student recently and they mentioned that it was hard to do their Hebrew homework because they didn’t have anyone at home that spoke the language and could offer assistance. This lead me to realize that my students are part of a very small community and it would be a great opportunity for them to see that there are other students from around the world, that they have things in common with.

By connecting my students to another Jewish day school, they can learn about another school, while noting the various similarities and differences. This can help them to establish a strong sense of self and belonging.

In addition to the social piece of this project, the students will also research their geographic location so they can use that information to “quiz” the other school. This research and sharing of information can help to develop ownership of their home, school and community.

Academic Rigor
AASL Standard 1.1.1 Follow an inquiry-based process in seeking knowledge in curricular subjects, and make the real world connection for using this process in own life.
AASL Standard 1.1.3 Develop and refine a range of questions to frame the search for new understanding.
AASL Standard 1.1.6 Read, view, and listen for information presented in any format (e.g., textual, visual, media, digital) in order to make inferences and gather meaning.
AASL Standard 1.1.9 Collaborate with others to broaden and deepen understanding.
AASL Standard 1.2.5 Demonstrate adaptability by changing the inquiry focus, questions, resources, or strategies when necessary to achieve success.
AASL Standard 1.4.1 Monitor own information-seeking processes for effectiveness and progress, and adapt as necessary.
AASL Standard 2.1.2 Organize knowledge so that it is useful.
AASL Standard 2.1.5 Collaborate with others to exchange ideas, develop new understandings, make decisions, and solve problems.
AASL Standard 2.3.1 Connect understanding to the real world.
AASL Standard 2.4.4 Develop directions for future investigations.
AASL Standard 3.1.2 Participate and collaborate as members of a social and intellectual network of learners.
AASL Standard 3.2.3 Demonstrate teamwork by working productively with others.
AASL Standard 3.3.1 Solicit and respect diverse perspectives while searching for information, collaborating with others, and participating as a member of the community
AASL Standard 3.4.1 Assess the processes by which learning was achieved in order to revise strategies and learn more effectively in the future.
AASL Standard 4.3.1 Participate in the social exchange of ideas, both electronically and in person.


ISTE Student Standard 1a. Apply existing knowledge to generate new ideas, products, or processes.
ISTE Student Standard 2a. Interact, collaborate, and publish with peers, experts, or others employing a variety of digital environments and media.
ISTE Student Standard 2c. Develop cultural understanding and global awareness by engaging with learners of other cultures.
ISTE Student Standard 2d. Contribute to project teams to produce original works or solve problems.
ISTE Student Standard 3a. Plan strategies to guide inquiry.
ISTE Student Standard 3b. Locate, organize, analyze, evaluate, synthesize, and ethically use information from a variety of sources and media.
ISTE Student Standard 3c. Evaluate and select information sources and digital tools based on the appropriateness to specific tasks.
ISTE Student Standard 3d. Process data and report results.
ISTE Student Standard 4a. Identify and define authentic problems and significant questions for investigation.
ISTE Student Standard 4c. Collect and analyze data to identify solutions and/or make informed decisions.
ISTE Student Standard 5b. Exhibit a positive attitude toward using technology that supports collaboration, learning, and productivity.


Other content areas being explored: geography, cardinal directions, state capitals.


Skills being practiced: Deductive reasoning, inquiry-skills, speaking and listening, conducting research, map-reading.


Levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy:

Remember/Understand: Recall geographic facts.

Apply: Record information from collaborating school, interview students from collaborating school.

Analyze: Interpret answers to determine what questions to ask next, examine maps to find geographic location of collaborating school.

Evaluate: Video-conference with collaborating school, collaborate with classmates to determine questions to ask and locations to guess.

Create: Hypothesize the correct geographic location of collaborating school.

Adult Connection
Teachers will make initial contact to set up a time for the Mystery Skype to take place and develop as plan as to the guidelines of the “game.” This will take place via email, telephone and practice Skype sessions.

Prior to the Mystery Skype session with the cooperating school, the students will videoconference in one room, while their teacher is elsewhere in the building. This will allow students to practice their roles, find and revise challenges and develop a level of comfort in front of the camera.

On the day of the actual Mystery Skype, it is suggested by other teachers, that the students take charge of the project. One teacher stated, “During the call you just have to step back and trust the kids.  My students were incredible, both with their enthusiasm and their knowledge, I think I was more nervous than they were” (Ripp, 2011).

Active Exploration
Students learn about different regions of the United States including the climate, landforms, resources, economy, and people of those regions. Mystery Skype is a connected learning experience that allows student-driven learning, inquiry, and deductive reasoning to be at the forefront of instruction. In a Mystery Skype session, a call is received by another class, but neither class knows the location of the other.Using geography questions, students use maps and construct questions to ask the other class in order to determine their location first! Students build inquiry skills, learning how to formulate questions that will further their learning.Question askers and map-readers work together to figure out the questions that will best narrow down the location of the other class, while recorders write down the information learned and the answering team receives questions from the other class. The role of the teacher is to facilitate – to help direct the Skype call, and to encourage students to use the information they gain to formulate questions as they learn (Source: Aberdeen Regional School District).

The following tools and resources will be utilized during the Mystery Skype session: Sharp Board, webcam, external microphone, external speakers, white boards, white board markers, atlases, classroom laptops, Skype app, Google Maps, State Facts for Students, 50 Facts for Each U.S. States, sample questions.

Applied Learning
Students in each class prepare a set of 20 questions and 5-10 clues for the other class before their call. The classes try to guess each other’s location by answering the questions. Students are assigned different roles:

Greeter (1 student) – Greets the incoming class by speaking about our class and going over the rules.  At the end of the call they are also the ones that thank the other class.  Once their job is done they merge into the think tank.Questioner (1 – 2 students) The questioners ask the “yes” or “no” questions of the collaborating class.

Answerer (1 student) Answers “yes” or “no” to the questions from the collaborating class.

Runners (2 – 3 students) The runners are responsible for communication between all of the different roles.

Google Mappers (2 students) Use Google Maps to try to help with questions or find an answer.

Atlas Mappers (2 – 4 students) Use print atlases to try to help with questions or find an answer.

Lead Thinker (1 student) The boss of the Think Tank, this student is a gentle leader that can keep everyone organized and on track.

Note Taker (1 – 2 students) Writes down all answers and questions during the call for easy access and if any confusion occurs.

Reporters (2 students) The reporters take pictures and notes throughout the call to document the project.


Mystery Skype is designed to completed on a regular or semi-regular basis so students can collaborate with students from around the world and be exposed to a wide variety of locations, students and experiences. By conducting several of these opportunities, students can rotate through various positions, learning to identify their preferences, strengths and areas of improvement.

As students learn more about other locations, they also build a stronger sense of who they are and where they’re from. By re-visiting their own geography, history and culture, they further their sense of self.

Assessment Practice
This is designed to be a fun and informal learning opportunity that is not include a formal assessment piece. Students will debrief after a Mystery Skype session to determine what went well and what can be improved upon for future calls. These reflections will take place in a round-table type discussion, where students are open to share their opinions.

Adapted from National Academy Foundation’s Project-Based Learning: A Resource for Instructors and Program Coordinators

Activity Details

Before the Session
  • Students revisit their local history and geography. Students designed and answered a list of facts.
  • Students brainstorm possible sample questions for the collaborating class.
  • Students are assigned roles.
  • Teachers connect via email and phone, with a practice Skype call before the Mystery Skype session.
  • Teachers conduct practice Skype sessions with their own classes so the students can not only be familiar with the process and the various roles, but also iron out any potential behavioral wrinkles.
During the Session
  • The teachers get the call connected and then the students take care of the rest. As I mentioned earlier, On the day of the actual Mystery Skype, it is suggested by other teachers, that the students take charge of the project. One teacher stated, “During the call you just have to step back and trust the kids.  My students were incredible, both with their enthusiasm and their knowledge, I think I was more nervous than they were” (Ripp, 2011).
After the Session
  • Students will debrief after a Mystery Skype session to determine what went well and what can be improved upon for future calls. These reflections will take place in a round-table type discussion, where students are open to share their opinions.
  • The collaborating teachers will connect via phone following the session to discuss the outcome, the success and challenges.

Reflection

Mystery Skype provides students with a great opportunity to meet and learn more about other students and cultures around the world. While this experience could have been done without the inclusion of technology, it is highly enhanced by the aforementioned digital tools. The tools certainly make the experience better, but the students are not focused on the technology, instead they are learning about geography, history, culture, communication, reasoning, and so many other great real-world skills. By conducting several of these opportunities, students can rotate through various positions, learning to identify their preferences, strengths and areas of improvement.

What’s Next?

You can view the next steps of my documentation in this post.


Resources

Lazar, T. (2014, January 27). Students, authors and Skype: believe the hype. Retrieved January 24, 2015, from Writing for Kids (While Raising Them) website:http://taralazar.com/2014/01/27/students-authors-and-skype-believe-the-hype/

Letter, T. (2014, August 26). 5 myths of online student privacy [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.iste.org/explore/articleDetail?articleid=141

Ripp, P. (2011, October 25). So you want to do Mystery Skype? [Blog post]. Retrieved from Blogging Through the Fourth Dimension website: http://pernillesripp.com/2011/10/25/so-you-want-to-do-mystery-skype/

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