Friday, October 30, 2015

Mystery Skype

Okay, if someone mentions Skyping with your class, you must ask, “Is this a Mystery Skype?” Twice now I have just assumed it was a Skype session and twice I have been wrong. 

If I had realized beforehand it was a Mystery Skype session, I would have done my homework!!

The fabulous Paul Solarz has everything you need to know right here: How to Set Up and Run a Mystery Skype Session.
I thought I was doing a five-ten minute “Hey, how are you?” session.  This turned into a forty minute activity and it was great! The children went back to class telling the other students what we had done.

Steve Auslander’s fifth graders taught us how to question the other school.  I loved how the students were in charge of everything – introductions, questions, answers, and so much more. We loved their signs - Your Turn, Our Turn, We’re Thinking, Thank You! You can tell that he really empowers his students. They are also an Imagination Chapter and I hope we get to collaborate again.

Their biggest suggestion was to start with, “Are you west of the Mississippi River?” so that you narrow it down.  “Are you in the (Southeast, Northeast, Northwest, Southwest?” could come next. 

Pernille Ripp has listed some great questions for Mystery Skype here: Great Mystery Skype Questions to Get You Started.

My friend Rebecca has done a lot of Mystery Skypes and we Skyped together on International Dot Day. She recommends Mystery Skypes for third grade and up.

I feel like I am late to the game with Mystery Skype, but I’ve probably done thirty or forty videoconferences with a Tandberg system and ALL were super valuable.

Skype can also be used for more than the Mystery Skype sessions.  You can do author visits, virtual field trips, ask an expert, and much more.

Seven years ago my friend and fellow media coordinator Stephanie Bode first introduced our PLC to Skype. At the time we had a young lady in Pre-K who was homebound.  She was able to Skype daily with her Pre-K class.  It was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen.

A few years ago we sent out our morning news to all of our classrooms via Skype. (It was pre-recorded and sent as a movie file.) It was a great way for our staff to stay in touch. Questions, reminders, and requests all came through the group chat feature.

Franklin second graders in Sheila McHone’s class regularly Skype with a class at Cedar Ridge. Last year they had an end of year field trip together.  How fun!

Skype and Google Hangouts are free and work with an Internet connected device and webcam.  I did one Google Hangout on an iPad mini.  There are occasional technical snafus, but it usually takes just a couple of minutes to get going. Google Hangouts is great for when you have three or more sites.

When toddlers can figure out how to FaceTime, it’s something that we educators can do, too!

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