Guest Post: Yr8 Mystery Skype

MysterySkype

This post was guest written by Noah, Harry and Angus from Year 8C

Last Thursday, 8C was part of a ‘Mystery Skype’ with another unknown school in the world. We didn’t know what to expect because we had never experienced this before. A ‘Mystery Skype’ is an activity where a random class or school in the world Skype us in order to find out our location and our school name. It is a competition between the two schools to identify each other first.

A day in advance, we had to prepare. We had to split into different groups, consisting of questioners, answerers, atlas mappers, poster mappers, Google mappers, note takers and photographers. Every group had 2-4 people working on it.

Firstly, we had to have Mr McNeill (our school Director of ICT) set up the webcam and project the Skype video onto the classroom interactive whiteboard. Once that was all ready, we were prepared to make the call. Just before we made it though, Mrs Preston told us some heartbreaking news: the teacher from the mystery class had told his class that we are in New Zealand. This made it so much easier for the opposition to find where we are. Anyway, there was no looking back. We made the call. The teacher from the other school greeted us warmly. But, they also greeted us with a very well known accent. The teacher had a classic, Aussie twang to his voice. As well the students had their school logo on their jerseys

As our first question we asked ‘Are you from Australia?’ as it was obvious from the accents. The reply was yes and then they asked ‘Are you in the South Island?’ The answer was yes.

[tweet https://twitter.com/samuelmcneill/status/509882183171837952 align=’right’ width=’275′]

After a few questions they asked ‘Are you in Wellington?’ we had a bit of a laugh while replying ‘No.’

As we closed in, we found out that they were from Tasmania, Hobart and that they were only aged 8-9 years old [which helped us knowledge wise].

We managed to successfully guess they were from St Virgil’s College in Hobart

Then as we started to wrap up the Skype call they started to talk about their sport and the Tasmanian tiger and devils. Then the Skype call ended. As a class we talked about the pros and cons and what we could we improve on.

In conclusion, our class enjoyed this experience and would like to do it with another class one time but would hope for older, more experienced classes our age.

Noah, Harry and Angus.

Full video of our Mystery Skype with St Virgil’s College

Year 8 Students Engage With #kidsbookchat

This morning Mrs Bridget Preston’s Year 8 class joined in with a multi-school Twitter chat focusing on books. This was organised by a Year 8 class at Selwyn House and was set to run similar to the #mathschatnz and #scitchatnz sessions, with a number of questions being posed for students to answer.

There were seven questions up for discussion that had been posted on the blog of the Selwyn House class site and these were:

  1. Q1: What is the best book you have read this year
  2. Q2: Who is your favourite author at the moment?
  3. Q3: What is your favourite genre?
  4. Q4: Do you have a class read aloud/ novel at the moment? What is it?
  5. Q5: What is your favourite spot for reading?
  6. Q6: How do you find books to read?
  7. Q7: Recommend some titles you’d like to share.

The students in Mrs Preston’s class were excited to be participating in this form of dialogue, and soon grasped the key skills of including the hashtag #kidsbookchat in each tweet, and also starting their replies with the question number they were answering.

I’ve collected a few of the hundreds of tweets that were sent during this 40minute chat and you can scroll through them below (the first tweets are at the bottom):

Throughout the chat Mrs Preston was engaging with the students, reminding them of the need to maintain appropriate replies in their tweets and also making the connection how this is a great way for the students to find out new titles to read. When it came to question six (how do you find good books to read?), many of the students tweeted our fantastic library manager Mrs Kennedy was a great source for finding new books. Many of them even included her Twitter handle showing they grasped this form of communication very quickly.

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A number of the students were tweeting from their own devices – a range of  laptops and tablets – and had set themselves up on a variety of furniture in the classroom, some even getting comfortable on beanbags. The attention and focus from students was high throughout the session with a number saying towards the end “This was so cool” or “this was great fun!”

During the debrief later in the afternoon Mrs Preston stressed the elements of trust involved in an activity like this, not posting silly or off-topic tweets. One thing the students requested was the ability to include their first name or initials in their tweets, rather than having all replies coming from @StAC_8C. When asked directly what sort of learning takes place from an activity like this some of their responses included:

  • Being open to new learning
  • Managing impulses and staying on task/showing appropriate behaviour
  • Learning how to use twitter/twitter handles and hashtags
  • Gained new knowledge about books – what books to read
  • Taking on a role and responsibility within the chat
  • Communicating with other students around NZ
  • Sharing their knowledge of books

They expressed an interest to run their own Twitter chat on a different topic at a later point in the year.

It is always pleasing to see a new initiative work out successfully and for the students to be able to identify their learning from an activity like this. This class is also going to try their first Mystery Skype later this week as well – more fun and engaging learning opportunities powered by technology.

UPDATE: This #kidsbookchat has been summarised in the following Storify recount as well.

Forging Global Connections – Mystery Skype to Singapore

On Friday 23rd May Yr3 students engaged in an eLearning first for St Andrew’s College – a Mystery Skype!

Mrs Jane Egden agreed at short notice from me to help out a request I’d seen on Twitter from Mr Craig Kemp, a Senior Teacher and ICT Specialist at Avondale Grammar in Singapore for a Yr2 or Yr3 class to engage in a Mystery Skype session. The object of a Mystery Skype is

An educational game, invented by teachers, played by two classrooms on Skype. The aim of the game is to guess the location of the other classroom by asking each other questions.

In preparation for the Mystery Skype, Mrs Egden had discussed what sort of questions would be good to ask to find out where the other class was – this is what the students came up with:

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With the session scheduled to kick off at 1:30pm, the fantastic ICT support team at St Andrew’s set up a HD webcam in the classroom linked to the projector, and arranged chairs for the students to sit in front of so they would be visible on the webcam to the class in Singapore. Meanwhile, Mr Kemp and I had exchanged tweets showing both classes eagerly anticipating the start of the Mystery Skype:

Armed with atlases, globes and a little help from Google, the students were underway with their questions, both classes trying to “win” by correctly guessing the country of the other. Mr David Jensen from our wonderful Film and Media department filmed the action:

In the end, Avondale’s questions of “What continent are you in” and “What is the most popular sport” allowed them to correctly narrow down to New Zealand, whilst probing questions like “Are you south of China” helped our students locate Singapore.

Throughout the 30minute session, there was high engagement and excitement by all students, and as they popped outside for a quick play at the conclusion, a number requested “can we do this again soon?” A successful initial Mystery Skype for all, confirmed by Mr Kemp’s tweet shortly afterwards:

I have written previously about the benefits of harnessing Skype to pull experts into our classrooms, and I am delighted at the prospect that through this initial Mystery Skype, these two classrooms may be able to reconnect and share other learning experiences with each other. Ultimately, it is these types of learning experiences that excite me so much about the possibilities of technology in education. It is easy to expand the horizons of our students through connecting them with others all around the world, whilst keeping the learning engaging, relevant and fun.

I am looking forward to introducing other teachers at St Andrew’s to the rewarding experience of Mystery Skype sessions.

Here is a link to a different Mystery Skype from Skype’s own webpage: