Friday, October 21, 2016

Students Teaching Teachers-Mystery Skype Edition!

Back in September, I was asked to work with a group of middle school social studies teachers about Mystery Skype.  Instead of just presenting them with the information, I decided to find a class to participate in a Mystery Skype with them.  In my mind, I knew that it would be more impactful, and boy was it! The teachers were engaged, and the questions were powerful!

What is Mystery Skype? Mystery Skype is critical thinking challenge that your class takes part in while Skyping with another class somewhere in the world. Check out this wonderful website to learn more about it!  I refer to Mr. Solarz's site every time I participate in a Mystery Skype!

I shared this experience within a Voxer chat that I was a part of for George Couros' book titled The Innovator's Mindset.  It is because of this Voxer chat (as well as iPadpalooza Austin) that I met Tara Martin!  We began working on a plan for classes in my area to join a group of teachers in her area who were learning about Mystery Skype in Mandy Sikes' first ever PD session for her district!  I could not wait!  I reached out to 2 of my teaching buddies, and they were totally on board!  Instead of Mandy just presenting the information to them, she was creating a "hands-on" experience for her teachers by connecting these classes with her teachers.  The students were becoming the teachers! How beautiful is that!?

Fast forward to today!  I am still on cloud nine when I think about it! My 2 buddies, Nikki Taylor and Lorra Lynch (both teachers at Montgomery Elementary School in Montgomery, TX), did an awesome job in preparing their kids for their very first Mystery Skype of the year!! 

We had a few hiccups when we started, and never really figured out why, but when the connection was made, you could feel the excitement in the room go way up!!

One of the things that I loved most about today, was how engaged the students were!  Each student had a job and a responsibility through it all, and their jobs meant something to them.  There were greeters, and a questioner, researchers, photographers, a think awesomeness!  They owned their learning! I know that they will always remember where Kansas is located because of this experience, and not a single worksheet or quiz was involved!  Check out some of the quotes below!

"It was really amazing."

"It was cool that we defeated some teachers."

"I learned how to narrow things down."

"I liked that we got to use maps.  I learned a lot about where places are."

"I was really nervous at first, but it was fun."

"We had a great experience with Skype!  The students were engaged the entire time and were super excited to guess the mystery location.  The depth of conversation in the room was amazing." Nikki Taylor

"I loved how fast we had to work as a team."

"It made my heart beat fast, and I can't wait to do it again."

"My pulse was throbbing when they asked if the Alamo was in our state."

Me too, friend!!!  It was a close one!

This is an experience that I know the students and teachers will never forget! One of the teachers that we Skyped with today is already looking for a connection!


Tara, Mandy, Nikki, and Lorra...THANK YOU!  Thank you for getting in the trenches today with your students and teachers! Proud to stand beside you all in the joy that is education!!


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