Mystery Skype is a concept that first began around 2011. The premise is that students Skype with another class somewhere in the world, and each class tries to guess the location of the schools by asking yes or no questions. When participating in a Mystery Skype, students are hitting three out of the four Cs--collaborating with classmates, communicating with the other school, and critically thinking when figuring out what to ask next based on the previous answer.
Mystery Skype is an amazing opportunity for all students, but it can be difficult to complete with younger grades (K-3). Due to their age, they don’t have a lot of experience with maps and globes, and may not have the schema of major cities other than the one to which they live closest.
If you teach younger students, and want your students to have a similar experience, you may want to consider connecting to guess a mystery number, shape, or animal!
For 1st - 3rd grade
Mystery Number is an excellent way to practice place value and number sense. Each class would apply their knowledge of even and odd, comparison language, skip counting, and the value of each digit in the number.
- Before the day of the Skype/Hangout, students in Class A and B each choose a number. Depending on the standard and grade, numbers could range from 0 - 100,000.
- Students in each class work together to list the properties of their number.
- When the classes connect via Skype or Google Hangouts, Class A begins by asking yes/no questions about Class B’s number. These questions could include:
- Is your number odd?
- Is the value of the digit in the hundreds place greater than 400?
- Would we say your number if we were skip counting by 10s?
- Is your number less than 275?
- Each time a question is answered, the choices are narrowed down and numbers are crossed out based on the previous answer.
- When Class A has guessed Class B’s answer, they switch roles and it’s Class B’s turn to ask questions and guess!
- At the end of the game, both classes can share information about where they live, the weather in their area, and have the opportunity to ask questions about the other school.
Ready to get started? Here are some tips!
1. You can find classes who are interested in connecting in many ways. You can tweet to the #MysterySkype hashtag, post in the Connected Classrooms or Mystery Hangout Google Plus communities, or reach out to your instructional technology department/campus liaison.
2. Review good questioning strategies before the Skype/Hangout. You might want to create a question bank for the students to reference.
3. This activity can be quite unstructured. If your students require a bit more structure, you can assign a job to each student. Some jobs include, but are not limited to:
- Greeter - The student who will greet the other class once you are connected. Sometimes the greeters play “Rock, Paper, Scissors” to decide who will go first!
- Question Asker(s) - The student(s) who will ask the questions at the computer. You could have one asker per table group, and each question comes from a different table.
- Question Answerer(s)
- Animal/Shape/Number Narrower(s) - If you have a class chart of animals, shapes, or numbers, these students would cross off items according to how the other class answered the question.
- Reporter(s) - If you have a way of communicating to parents (class website, email, newsletter, etc), the student(s) would take pictures for the teacher to post later in the day.
- Sign Holder(s) - It is helpful to have some signage to let the other class know you are thinking or ready for the next question. This student could be in charge of standing in front of the computer holding the appropriate sign.
- Fact Sharer(s) - At the end of the game, the student(s) could share a little about their school, district, or community.
Sarah Fromhold is a Digital Learning Coach in Frisco, TX. Before moving into this role, she taught kindergarten and 2nd grade. Sarah is a Google Certified Educator Levels 1 & 2 and a Google for Education Certified Trainer. She is a proud member of the #4OCFpln, a Voxer group that started with a book study and has grown into a family. You can find her on Twitter @sew1080 or check out her blog at fromholdsblog.wordpress.com.