Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Making Missouri a Mystery (Mystery Skype That is...)

A few weeks ago, a teacher-friend (Miss Kazanowski - find her blog here)  and I started chatting through Twitter about having our students collaborate on a writing project through Google Docs.  This teacher-friend and I live in different cities and teach in different school districts - so we had the perfect opportunity in the palm of our hands! 

First, we structured our first "meeting" as a Missouri Mystery Skype. By this point, both of our classes have participated in Mystery Skypes prior to, so we just informed our classes the school they were searching for was located in the state of Missouri. Introducing the task naturally brought up several learning opportunities (and refreshers for some): bodies of water in Missouri, highways, interstates, county lines, boundaries, etc. 

I made maps for my students (pictured below) to reference back to if Google Maps became a little daunting. Prior to our Skype, we spent time in Social Studies reading these maps and challenging one another to find specific cities, highways, lakes, etc. 

Throughout the Skype, students' excitement and engagement was through the roof! They were rushing around the room, whispering questions, and working together to try and find the exact location of their new digital pen pals.  It was incredible to overhear the fantastic geographical application happening. Questions thrown around such as, "Are you west of Jefferson City?" and "Do you border Kansas?" 

Oh! Another mini lesson we had prior to this Skype was about the language to use while communicating via Skype. We made a giant T-Chart of "Things To Say" and "Things Not to Say" while Skyping. As you can imagine, the "to say" list had things like west, east, north, etc. The "not to say" list included words like, close to, above, below, etc.  It was exciting to hear my students applying this language while communicating with new friends. Don't get me wrong, I had to throw out reminders - but hey, it's a start!

Miss Kazanowski had one of her students live-tweeting our entire Skype, and I have to say his play by play of the afternoon was spot-on and equally hilarious. What a great idea to have kids tweeting the experience! Here are a few of his tweets:

Once the students pinpointed the location, Miss Kazanowski and I shared the exciting news that not only were we friends from college but we would be doing a writing project together! When we shared we were Mizzou Alumni, all the kids stared at me (well, us...) in shock and disbelief! 

Check out my blog post here to read about our collaboration project through Google Drive!

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