Tag Archives: mystery skype

Skypeathon 2017

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The two day annual Skypeathon Nov 28-29, is a great event encouraging all educators and classes to connect beyond their classrooms. Friendships can be formed that can lead onto ongoing projects and collaborative problem solving. The theme this year is Open Hearts Open Minds. This year’s theme encourages students to open their hearts and their mind to what’s possible and inspire them to dream big.

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This year’s goal is to reach 10 million virtual miles. This event has been organised for the last two years and my classes will be part of it again this year. Despite the busy time of year as it is close to the end of our school year, it is always exciting to open up the classroom to the world and connect with others. The connections can be short or long. Some classes are sleeping over and skyping for 36 hours. There are teachers from many many countries all actively seeking partners to connect with. A good spot to find partners is on:

  • Skype in the Classroom website – Mystery Skype  (use the filter options to find the country/subject/age group of choice)
  • Twitter – using the hashtag #skypeathon in the search bar
  • See the images below

skypeathon poster

Ideas for connecting

  • just say hello, share flags, time, weather etc
  • students share their big dreams with each other
  • share some objects reflecting culture
  • play mystery skype or one of the other mystery type games
  • find an expert to connect with
  • take a virtual tour etc

Resources

Mystery Skype OneNote Book – full of resources for teachers

Twitter #skypeathon Follow @skypeclassroom

Are you going to be part of this wonderful adventure? What countries will you link up with? What do you have planned for the connection?

Do you have any questions, need help or advice or? Please add as a comment as I am one of the Skype Master Teachers and would love to help you.

 

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Mystery Skype with Georgia

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Skype in the Classroom is an amazing resource. People across the world actively search for educators to connect with. Many of our mystery skype connections come from people’s requests to me! One such request was from Marina Tarughishvili , a teacher in Georgia. See her blog I was very surprised to see that we could connect in real time as Europe is often beyond our school hours. However, 9am their time, was 3pm our time.

pondering the clues

I was little nervous as I only speak English, and Marina said that her English was poor. My students printed off their names to share in introductions to the webcamera. Other signs included “Please repeat”. “thinking” and some of our questions were printed out. A cricket bat, money, toy koala, Australian flag and some sheep’s wool were ready to show if we worked out each other’s countries before our bell went.

Marina, brought the English teacher her with and their spoken English was clear and the accent relatively easy to understand. We flipped a coin to see who asked the first question. Our questions required a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer but they asked good open ended questions of us eg what is part of our native environment, what is one of our native animals, do we have lots of rain, do we have a desert, what oceans are we near? etc. Eventually they worked out our country. Once our students discovered they were from Europe, they asked if their country started with a ‘G’? Students tried Germany, then Greece but as they had their computers switched on, discovered that Georgia was in Europe – a country they had never heard of.

When we showed our flag to them, they were quick to pull out a mobile phone, use search to locate their flag to show us.

It would be good to connect again to find out more about their country. In the meantime, that will be the student’s next task to create a Sway with multnodal information on Georgia.

The highlights:-

  • being able to make ourselves understood
  • seeing shy students starting to voluntarily come up to the webcamera and ask a question or share something
  • hearing one of my most challenging students ask if we could keep on doing this for the rest of the term!
  • seeing how engaged my class was

An in-classroom interpreter!

Our school was culturally and geographically isolated. However, the cultural isolation is diminishing over the last few years, as many of the large local farms that are owned by corporations employ people from overseas. These different cultures come into Australia via a variety of visas.

The result is that we have a number of students of Philippine, Sri Lankan, African and Thai origins. Some have been Australia for a very short time so that very little English may be spoken. Our Education Department have a language school in Melbourne to help students, such as these, with their understanding and effective speaking of English. As we are 3.5 hours from Melbourne, technology has enabled students to learn English via videoconferencing with the Language School.

However, the tables were turned on a recent Mystery Skype session with a school in Thailand. Questions were asked of each other, that required only a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. The students in Thailand worked out we were from  Australia well before we worked out their country. The teacher, Thitaree Chanthawat, stated that her students were shy as English is not their first language. My students are also shy and English is their first language.

As there was time left, we started to show each other  cultural objects – our country flags, money, the time (on our mobile phones) and my students showed some sheep’s wool. One of their students showed a toy buffalo to the webcamera. In amongst the sharing, I asked Rapeeporn (or Cheer as we call her) to come forward and share her native Thai language with the Thai class. It was wonderful to see her immediately become confident, her obvious delight in being able to converse in her native tongue and to hear another language spoken fluently. However, before introducing herself, Rapeeporn, pressed her palms together and bowed to the Thai class. We later learned that this is wai.

If either class did not quite understand the other, then Rapeeporn interpreted. There was discussion about the use of buffalo on their farms. There were similarities – both schools were set in rural settings and small towns. However, there were 40-50 students in their class compared to our class of 22. There were no walls or oceans between us. It was if we were in the same classroom sharing conversations.

When my students were asked to reflect on the class, they stated that one of the highlights was hearing the Thai  language being spoken.

Some teachers ask me how I make the global connections. The teacher from Thailand found me on Skype in the Classroom and requested a Mystery Skype connection with me and my class.

 

Mystery Animal

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As our school teaches mandarin Chinese, any connection with a school in China is of special interest. The assistant principal of an Bozhouu International School in China found me on the Skype in the Classroom website.

As we had already completed a mystery skype connection, Richard suggested that we do a mystery animal game this time, using skype as the videoconferencing tool. He had prepared a wonderful sheet to share with the students bearing images of African animals complete with the names in both English and Chinese.
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Following is how it looked:-

  • Each class had previously chosen an animal from the sheet.
  • My students  had printed off their names on an A4 sheet for clearer understanding.
  • Boxhou rang us on skype. There were technical difficulties on their end but all was resolved within 10 mins.
  • Students played paper rock scissors over the camera to see who was to start first. Hawkesdale, Australia won.
  • Students had to ask questions only with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. eg Is your animal grey? Is your animal a carnivore?, does it have a long nose or trunk?  etc.
  • They took it in turns to ask questions and each student would introduce themselves one at a time.

There was much laughter in the classroom on both sides as we tried to understand each other’s accents, names etc. It took approximately 20 mins for each side to actually determine the other’s animals. All the Chinese students stayed in over their recess period to complete the  a second mystery animal.

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Student reflections on their individual blogs:-

 

 

 

Open Night at Hawkesdale College

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Each year, our school holds an Open Night inviting interested  families of year 7 students in 2017, to come and visit, see and hear what is offered and be immersed in a number of activities including science, wood technology, sport, technology and cookery.

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I was asked to provide a virtual connection with teachers and/or students from other countries so that parents and students could experience the wonderful learning that can occur. Two special colleagues, Sebastian Panakal, from Kerala India and Lin-lin Tan from Taiwan kindly agreed to connect with the groups at the appointed time. As the families were held up, the five students who were helping me, had a special time with Sebastian and Lin-lin asking questions and interacting in conversations. Vesna is studying mandarin Chinese and practiced her Chinese with Lin-lin. The other students also conversed in simple phrases. Skype was the tool used to connect.

vesna and linlin

boys and sebastian

It started with mystery skype. The students had helped set up online maps in the computer room and families were grouped around them, trying to determine the country they were from. Sebastian went on to show his wife, Sheena’s beautiful origami which she had learnt to do from youtube. Families found it more difficult to determine where Lin-lin was from, despite her showing puppets, chopsticks and a video as clues. It was a great experience and many thanks go to the Sebastian and Lin-lin for giving up their time to show the learning that technology can bring.

puppet

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sebastian and swan

Mystery Skype OneNote Book – a great free resource

Vesna and student

A Mystery Skype OneNote Book has been released full of resources, advice and tutorials and it is free.  You can read my blog post on Learning Adventures with Mystery Skype. There is something for everyone – both newbies and experienced. It includes video tutorials, tips, time zone convertors and advice on using the Bing Maps app to record where you and your students or class have skyped and best of all it is free. If you have MS Office 365 you can also get student NoteBooks all set up with proformas for your class to record, reflect and evaluate. This can develop into a great digital portfolio for them and is fully customizable.

Download the Mystery Skype Note book or if you live in the USA, you can text a message “mysteryskype” (without the talking marks) to 41411 You will be given a url for the website where you can download the Mystery Skype Notebook. It is best not to download it from your phone but to access that link from your computer or mobile device to download it. The book comes with lots of links found in sections and pages. Have fun exploring it all.

Have you downloaded it yet? What are your impressions?

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Ensuring the ‘Mystery in ‘Mystery Skype

Mystery Skype is a great way to connect with others. It covers many ‘C’s for  learning -connecting, communication, conversations, collaboration and possibly creation. It is problem based – “we dont know where this other class or guest speaker is from” and covers many other elements of engaged learning. However, it is important to ensure that the ‘mystery’ remains for as long as possible to encourage students to push their thinking and learning. Here are some tips to ensure this:-

  1. Hide the town/country from your skype ID profile. hide profile
  2. Check backgroundspaces surrounding the students or class eg posters that might state or identify where you are from and remove or cover them.
  3. As students come up to the webcamera, make sure any school logo on their uniform is covered. (They can simply cover this with their hands.)

    Hiding the school name/logo

    Hiding the school name/logo

  4. Accents and appearances cannot be disguised but do provide possible tips and hints as to where they are from should it take too long for them to work it out and they may then become restless.

What tips do you have? This mystery idea can be used with other tools as well and made into a mystery location.