Hello everyone! The purpose of this post is to provide you with resources on Mystery Skypes.
You might be saying, “Whoa! Wait a minute? A mystery WHAT?”
A Mystery Skype is a video conference (using Skype, usually) between two classrooms from different parts of the United States or world. The purpose of a Mystery Skype is to play a twenty-questions style game, typically with yes or not responses, to figure out the location of each classroom. When engaged in a Mystery Skype, students practice teamwork and critical thinking skills. They also apply a knowledge of geography and general social studies. When each location is revealed, students typically engage in a more casual conversation, asking questions about each other’s location and interests.
I have been doing Mystery Skypes with my fourth graders for two years, and love seeing my kids collaborate and engage in a unique learning experience. They love the experience as well, and their favorite part tends to be the conversations that happen after the Skype. They love making connections and seeing that there is a big world beyond their classroom! This year, we Skyped with Iowa, New York, Vermont, Illinois, Florida, Minnesota, and Texas. Time constraints have made it difficult to Skype as frequently as I’d like, but each year I work in a couple more! Mystery Skypes also go great with the fourth grade social studies curriculum, which centers primarily around the fifty United States.
Twitter is a great place to find resources for Mystery Skypes, as well as willing teachers to Skype with. Simply search the hashtag #mysteryskype!
Below are some of my favorite resources for Mystery Skyping. Not everyone runs a Mystery Skype exactly the same, so it’s nice to read from many different perspectives. Please feel free to contact me on Twitter @mbender406 if you have questions about Mystery Skypes! 🙂
#MysterySkype on Skype.com – The Skype website has a place where teachers can register to be a part of the Mystery Skype community. Teachers can look for potential Mystery Skype partners, as well as see a video showing Mystery Skype in action!
Mr. Solarz – What is a Mystery Skype? – Paul Solarz explains how he runs Mystery Skypes in his classroom. His explanation is detailed and his descriptions of the jobs associated with Mystery Skypes are excellent. I based a lot of the jobs I chose in my classroom on this website.
So You Want to do a Mystery Skype? – Pernille Ripp gives her perspective on how she runs Mystery Skypes in her classroom. She also has a video from a Mystery Skype call her class participated in, if you want to see it in action.
Cybrary Man Skype Page – Jerry Blumengarten, aka the “Cybrary Man” has a great list of resources regarding Skype. Toward the bottom you’ll see a great collection of links for Mystery Skype specifically as well.
Geography Skills Soar with Mystery Skype – On Scholastic.com, Genia Connell writes about the benefits of mystery skyping, and also details how she has participated in Mystery Skypes. The screenshots showing each step of setting up a Mystery Skype are quite useful as well.
After you peruse these resources, I’m sure you’ll be ready to believe the hype with Mystery Skype! 🙂