It is an honor to be asked to blog for Scootle, and I am excited to share my ideas/experiences on a regular basis. For this post we decided to repurpose one of my most popular blogs about one of my favourite tools, Mystery Skype.
Mystery Skype is an education game invented by teachers, and played by two classrooms using Skype. The aim of the game is to guess the location of the other classroom by asking each other questions.
This has totally transformed the way students learn about the world in my school. Not only does the game engage students, but it excites teachers to teach a topic that has long been a short sharp look through an atlas, and a glossed over part of the curriculum. It is also an excellent way to integrate technology into your classroom programme, and Google Maps (and Google Earth) is the perfect tool for the job!
Before we dig deeper, here is a video that demonstrates Mystery Skype in Action:
The best part is that Mystery Skype is suitable for all ages, and can span whatever curriculum areas you would like. We have even pushed this down as low as Kindergarten with an off-shoot idea called Mystery Number Skype (we have also tried Mystery Animal and Mystery Colour with our youngest learners, and it is so powerful).
Here are 7 simple steps to get your class/school hooked into learning about the world:
1. Go to https://education.microsoft.com/connectwithothers/playmysteryskype and sign in with your Microsoft in Education account (if you don’t have one, you can sign up for free within seconds).
2. Scroll down the page until you see ‘Find a class to play mystery Skype with’.
3. Expand the filter button to explore, search, refine, and start contacting people. You can search by age group, subject, country/region, language, and ‘Available Now’. You can also include keywords!
4. Choose your contacts and select how to get in touch with them (email, Twitter, or Skype). Click on their name to find out more information, and when you are ready to get in touch, add them as a Skype contact (or email them).
5. Now sit back and relax. Wait for the contacts to roll in, and then it is up to you to negotiate a time that suits you both. Alternatively, you can send a message out via Twitter to your PLN and ask for it to be Retweeted – an example ‘tweet’ might read like this:
Dear PLN – Looking for a Year 4 or 5 class to @MysterySkype with my amazing staff & students next week. We are in Singapore. Please RT.
6. Once you have connected and organised a time to Skype, you can prepare your students. You need to ensure they understand the rules. Check in with them and assign roles – I use a template to assign roles to different students (e.g. greeter, question asker, runner, Google mapper, globe person, atlas person etc.). We practice in class and discuss possible questions that would be good to ask. It is best to stick to the rule ’Yes or No answers only’.
7. Enjoy the experience. Remember that there are people there to help and support your journey. Get involved, and give it a go — you will love it!
Once you start, you won’t be able to stop. Mystery Skype has been the most engaging way I have found to hook students into learning about the world. Geography learning has never been so fun and my student’s question asking abilities have improved out of this world!
Mystery Skype is an engaging way to inspire learning. Staff at my school can support your Mystery Skype journey. Email me by clicking here, or contact me via Twitter. Let me know your grade level and some suitable times, and we will get you connected.
For more information, please have a read of my ’How I make it work’ post about Mystery Skype sessions.
Head of Educational Technology (K-12)
Head of Elementary ICT Integration
Craig is a passionate Head of Educational Technology at a large International School in Singapore. He is a lifelong learner, dream creator, and thought leader. He loves to inspire others and find inspiration, and is the co-founder of #whatisschool, #asiaED edchats and #pubPD.