Why not consider a ‘Mystery Skype’ session with your class this year?

Submitted by Fiona Beal with permission from Brenda Hallowes…

This is a guest post from a SchoolnetterBrenda Hallowes, who teaches ICT at Cotswold Preparatory School in Port Eizabeth. Brenda has a blog ‘Cotswold Lab Notes’ and when I read this post in November I asked her if I could use it as a guest post since it highlights the practice of ‘Mystery Skype’ in action. Mystery Skype can also be conducted using a Google hangout! 

Brenda’s blog ‘Cotswold Lab Notes’ 

Brenda relates:

“We live in a global village. Technology has opened up so many opportunities for connection and collaboration. In the computer lab we have been taking advantage of the opportunity for global connections via the Global Classroom Project. I joined the Skype chat group for GCP. Due to time differences the group is active twenty-four hours a day.  The chat is lively and informative. 

One of the fun activities of the group is a “Mystery Skype”.  Two teachers connect their classes in Google Hangout without telling their students where the other class is in the world. The children have to ask questions that elicit a yes or no answer in order to work out the location. 

Brenda’s Grade 2 class during the session

The Grade 2 class in Indonesia during the session

One of the first things the students have to understand is the concept of a continent. Once we have established which continent the other class is on they then have to pinpoint the country. If they do get really stuck they are allowed to get clues such as the capital city or the hemisphere. I was surprised and delighted when one of my Grade 2 classes guessed Indonesia after they had established that it was in Asia. After trying the larger countries like China and India they began to study the map more carefully. They could barely pronounce the word Indonesia but  they learned that it’s a country in Asia and they met a class of real live students from there.  Some of our students demonstrated good thinking when trying to find the answer and then I had one little girl who kept coming up and saying, “Johannesburg! or East London”. It’s a whole new world out there. Our students are young and many of them are lacking exposure to the world beyond our school and homes but I believe that we can offer them opportunities for enrichment beyond their present development through technology and good scaffolding.

We are coming to the end of the academic year. This has been the first year at Cotswold that I haven’t worked through a set curriculum purchased by the school. It’s been an adventurous year and I have learned so much. I’m looking forward to what the new year brings. Technology is changing so rapidly and the trend is towards the “Read Write” web where we discover how to construct our own new knowledge using online tools. It certainly is a great time to be involved in education.”

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