Where In The World? It’s a Mystery!

Last week one of our Grade 6 classes participated in their first-ever Mystery Skype with a class in Argentina. What fun they had!

After a recent Mystery Skype connection fell through, I sent out an appeal over Twitter, looking for a class to Mystery Skype with and it wasn’t long when I received a response from a teacher in Argentina, Laura Bargas. Laura regularly does Mystery Skype calls with her class, so they are old hats at it. They were very keen to connect with us. We set up the call for the following Monday afternoon, taking into account the five-hour time difference.

A Mystery Skype works like this: Only the teachers know where in the world the other class is. The students have to, via a series of clever questions, find out exactly where in the world you are. These questions may only be ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ questions and have to be cleverly thought out to get the most revealing information from the other class. All members of the class are involved. The class is divided into smaller groups and each group plays a different role. We had  Greeters  who said hello and told something about the class without giving away our location, Inquirers/Answerers who asked the questions and provided answers, Question Keepers who kept track of the questions and answers, Mappers who used maps, an atlas, Google Maps, etc. to hone in on the clues, a Digital Photographer who captured the call with an iPad, Logical Reasoners who used the clues to eliminate countries or cities that did not match the given clues and Runners who ran between the Inquirers and Logical Reasoners getting the answers and delivering them to the Answerers. It sounds complicated, but it worked like a well-oiled machine as the class teacher, Mrs Copeland, had prepared them well for their roles. This is important for a Mystery Skype to be successful.

Both teams asked good questions and it took only fifteen minutes for each class to discover the correct location of the other class – they we in Buenos Aires, Argentina! We then spent the next fifteen minutes sharing information about our cities, our schools and the climate – it was 8 degrees Celsius in Buenos Aires and about 15 degrees Celsius in Cape Town. This was a great learning experience for everyone. Our students loved it and are keen to repeat the experience. Mrs Copeland teaches all the Social Sciences classes for Grade 6, so we are on the look out for more Mystery Skype partners around the globe for the other three classes, for August.

If you’d like to learn more about Mystery Skype, I found these links to be particularly helpful:

Mrs Morgan’s Superstars – Skype Etiquette and Mystery Skype

Pernille Ripp – Mystery Skype Jobs Created by My Students

The Mystery Skype Call Lesson Plan

Here are some of the photographs taken during the call:

 

Apple Classroom – Now This Looks Interesting

Classroom+icon (1)iOS 9.3 has brought with it a number of features specifically for education. The one that interests me most at this stage is Apple Classroom. It does not hold much interest for parents or students specifically, but teachers might be very interested in the possibilities it holds for them in terms of iPad classroom management.

I find the name of the app a little annoying, especially when Google Classroom has been around for a while and now Microsoft has also bringing out Microsoft Classroom. This could be very confusing for teachers who are still trying to wrap their heads around the use of tools such as Google Classroom (as would be the case in GAFE schools), especially as they won’t yet have an understanding of exactly how different Apple Classroom and Google Classroom are until they actually work with both, and understand that they could use both quite effectively. However, iPad classroom management will look very different with the implementation of Apple Classroom and this is what, in my opinion, will appeal to teachers. I look forward to learning more about this product in training later this month.

Fraser Speirs, Head of Computing and IT at Cedars School of Excellence in Greenock, Scotland, always gives very honest and straightforward feedback on Apple initiatives. His blog post about Apple Classroom is a very informative read.

Note: It has been brought to my attention that Apple Classroom only works on iPad 3 and later models. This might be a problem for schools where there are staff members and students still working with iPad 2s (such as our school). Also, the devices have to be supervised in a Mobile Device Management programme (which makes sense).