Finding Israel

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Pouring over the world map. (Notice the jackets turned inside out – just in case the other students looked up our school name on the internet. So funny!)

On Thursday another of our Grade 6 classes participated in a Mystery Skype, this time with a class in Israel. I put a call out over social media for a Mystery Skype partner and in no time, I got a response from a number of keen teachers. Unfortunately time zone differences made it very difficult to connect, but one connection really suited us well. Israel is an hour ahead of South Africa, so that was the deciding factor. We set up a date for 11 August and in preparation the Israeli teacher, Gali Lev Ari, shared with us the questions that her students would ask us. I shared these with the Grade 6 Kites class teacher, Mrs Kent, and she prepared her class for the Mystery Skype.

On the day the we had a crystal clear connection and immediately got to the task of finding out where in the world the other class was. Using iPads, Google Earth, Atlases and a good old-fashioned world map, our students put their heads together and got searching. It did not matter that our Skype friends were only in Grade 3 (from the Happy English School in Tel Aviv – they were participating in summer school, as it is actually their summer holiday now) and that English was not their first language. Through clever questioning (only yes/no answers allowed), slower speech and well phrased answers we were able to communicate well. Eventually, a clever guess led our students to discovering the location of the other class – in Israel! Just a few minutes later the other students found us in South Africa and then we ended off the Skype call with a question/answer session about our different countries and cultures. They were amazed to find out that we celebrate Christmas in summer!

Once again, through a simple yet structured activity, our students were able to call on map work (and other) skills learnt in class and apply them to find the other class. What a wonderful learning opportunity with many possibilities for future connections. The Kites class loved every minute!

 

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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:

 

#PVSkype24

For the second year now, one of our classes has participated in the 24-hour Skype marathon hosted by Beverly Ladd and her Grade 2 students from Pine View Elementary in Wilmington, North Carolina, USA. This year it was the turn of the Grade 5 Pelicans class and as before, it was a huge success!

Beverly started planning this all months ago – I received an email from her in October last year already, and once I had identified a class to participate in the Skype marathon (Skypathon). We were tasked with some preparation too. Out students had to prepare answers to some very thought-provoking questions, and this is where true learning came in. Not only were we going to learn about a class in a country on a continent thousands of kilometres away, but in preparation we were learning about our own community too. The questions posed by Beverly’s class were:

  1. How do students at your school get health care, education, and access to clean water in your community or country?
  2. What are the needs or wants of students in your school or local community? How can they be solved in a month from now, a year from now, or twenty years from now? (An example would be fundraiser to help cure diseases.)  
  3. Does your community or school receive support from any groups or individuals (i.e. school supplies, volunteers, financial support, etc.)? How does this make your community or school a better place.
  4. What do students at your school do to help protect the Earth? What could students at your school to make a greater impact?
  5. How can we positively take action and make decisions that support and nurture our environment and animals?
  6. What other global issues affect your school/community/country and how can you make a difference now and in the future?
  7. Teach or show something that is unique or special about your culture or your state/country that others should know.

On the day we were blessed with a crystal clear connection – even the visuals were clear. We were very thankful for our upgraded, fast and efficient fibre internet connection. We took turns to share the answers to our questions. We were interested to learn that their communities face many similar challenges as the communities here in our area, such as poverty and homelessness. We found it interesting that they have doctors and nurses at their schools so they can get medical care there, if necessary.

A highlight for us was when the US students sang their National Anthem for us. It was very moving – especially since they were about 20 hours into their 24-hour marathon!

Click on the image to view the video:

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Our students greeted the US students in all 11 official languages and then two of our girls showed them what traditional Zulu dress looks like.

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I am now being pressured by our students to host our own Skype marathon, but I’m not sure if I’m up for a 24-hour stint. Twelve hours seems a good starting point. Watch this space!

A huge thanks to Beverly and her students for a very fruitful experience. They had some very tired little bodies, but it was wonderful to experience learning across the miles and around the globe!

Here are some more photos taken from our side: