Tag Archives: mystery skype

Does anyone need a teacher?

sebastian roshan dwight and christian

skype message

The above message popped up in one of my Skype groups as I was preparing for my next class – Year 9/10 Global ICT. What an opportunity! I hope to connect this class to many different teachers, classes in as many countries as possible. Roshan is a Skype Master teacher from Sri Lanka – a country many students do not know of.

As it was only 10 mins to the start of my class, there was little time for formal organisation. Another message popped up from my long time online colleague, Sebastian Panakal, from Kerala, India. He wanted to be part of the same connection.

sebastian and roshan

Unfortunately, there was so much happening in the school that for much of the time, I only had two students in my class. This is what the lesson looked like:-

 

  1. Played Mystery Skype. Students quickly worked out that Sebastian was from India but Roshan’s country was much more difficult to determine.
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  2. Roshan shared his screen and a pictorial presentation on Sri Lanka- the country, the culture, the religions, festivals etc.
    sri lankan culture
  3. Students were given an opportunity to ask questions
    elephants
  4. Sebastian, of India, then spoke briefly of his work and his passion for experiencing a peaceful world. He believes that connecting students world wide will develop empathy and understanding, forming the foundation for a peaceful world, free of terrorism.

The class then took on a completely different atmosphere. Roshan talked about the recent terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka, the emotions that people were feeling, the environment they were now living in etc. It was with mixed emotions that we listened to a teacher in a school of 3000 where only 200 students are coming in each day. Students are too frightened to come to school. Facebook is still blocked by the Sri Lankan government to keep rumours at bay.

There is fear, disappointment, disbelief everywhere. The community no longer supports some of the Muslim traders. There are swords found in some of the religious mosques leading to even greater fear. Some of Roshan’s friends are Muslim and are wonderful people. They feel that the terrorists were a highly educated group organised from outside their country.

It was with great disquiet, that we left the classroom with much to think and reflect on. How can we help these people? How can we reduce terrorism? What is it really like to survive attacks like this? What impact does it have on the local communities?Will life ever be the same for them again? So many questions!

The highlights:-

  • Having two guest educators in our classroom at once, each from a different, but neighbouring country.
  • Learning about the recent terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka from someone who lives there and experienced it.
  • Being able to interact in real time and ask questions.
  • Seeing the props that Roshan used to add engagement – a smiley face when the answer was ‘yes’ to the Mystery Skype questions and the flag when the students calculated the right country.
  • Experiencing the presentation showing different aspects of Sri Lanka
  • Having access to a recording that Sebastian had made.
  • and so so much more….

all of us

 

 

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.

 

Mystery Skype with Georgia

selfie good one

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.
mystery animal1

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

in the library
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.

science room

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

puppet1

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?

mystery skype one note

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.

When students become the experts and teachers!

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A recent mystery skype linkup, connected year 7 ICT class with a YouthSpark initiative event in  Seattle, on Puget Sound in the Pacific Northwest.The  events connect educators and administrators to resources, programs, and tools to support their students in STEM (USA) and a round of mystery skype is often played to share the incredible digital communication skills students have built by playing it.

An email had come through with the following request:

It would be incredible wonderful if you could have a Mystery Skype session with our group our teachers at 6:15 PM in Seattle, Washington on Wednesday, 05/20.

We hope to meet at 11:15 AM your time on Thursday, 05/21. We would be grateful to have your students join the call. The typical way we play Mystery Skype would include a speaker and camera on both sides.  We also have classes take turns asking Yes or No questions. This game would be your Australian students vs. our American teachers (who have never played before).We like to demonstrate the Skype in the Classroom program to educators through playing a round of Mystery Skype with students.

Year 7 ICT students agreed to play Mystery Skype with them. We gathered up some Australiana, set up my laptop, connected it to a monitor and video called in

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As US classes had finished for the day, our school day was just beginning. Participants had to ask questions that required a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer and our students became the experts and teachers!

Comparing money

Comparing money

The highlights

  1. The facilitating leaders in Seattle were experienced players and our students loved their dynamic, animated and enthausiastic approach.
  2. It was an engaging and highly motivating session for all involved.
  3. The Seattle leaders had produced signage eg “Yes”, “No”, “Thinking time”, “Great response” etc which was placed up to the webcam fo
  4. The microphones were left on at all times, so that each side of the world could hear any responses, the general chat and gauge the atsmosphere etc
  5. A quick sharing session of objects that we had on us eg money, school uniform
  6. Sharing of pictures to show what our schools looked like
The school in Puget Soundb

The school in Puget Sound

A wave to say goodbye

A wave to say goodbye

please note that the pics featured were taken within skype.

An amazing visit to Kenya!

Each year our school holds an information evening for prospective parents of year 7 students for 2016. Being a small school, we try to show some of the best aspects of learning at our school. Again, I was asked whether a global connection might be made using skype to demonstrate the ability of technology to break down the barriers of geographical and cultural isolation and take learning beyond the textbook.

Govinda Panthy from Nepal was approached  as the first earthquake was still making headlines in our media.  He was unable to connect as he had an important meeting in Katmandu. Livingstone from Kenya was also asked. Michael Soskil, from the USA.  was visiting with him and they had been actively seeking people to skype with a few days earlier to connect students fom the Cheery School in the biggest slum in Africa but as there was no word from them, Sebastian Panakal, from Kerala, India again kindly consented to skype with us. Just as the first group was about to come into the computer lab, Sebastian warned us that his power may be about to go out and then……. it must have as he immediately went offline!

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Instead, current year 7 students showed some of the global projects that they had been involved in. Fortunately there was a 45 min break as in that time, Livingstone skyped me to say they would be ready for us whenever we were! Student helpers quickly gathered up some objects to share as we were told that the Kenyan students were young and did not speak much English. The Kenyan students attended the HIP academy, a rural school in Kenya.

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As the second group of parents and students entered into the room we called Livingstone on the video camera and commenced with a mystery skype challenge. The prospective students in Hawkesdale posed the following questions that could only have a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question :-

  1. Are you south of the equator? Answer = no, our country covers the equator
  2. Do you have a big rainforest? Answer: no
  3. Do you have lions? Answer: yes
  4. Are you in Africa? Answer: yes
  5. Are you from Kenya? Answer: yes

The sight of the dark coloured faces made it reasonably easy for us to work out where they were from. They worked out where we wer from with some visual clues. They had a paper poster world map to refer to, we had online maps on our computers.

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A young Kenyan girl then taught us swahilli by showing us toy animals that Michael had brought with him to Kenya. She spoke the word in English, then Swahilli, we then had to repeat. She did not move onto the next animal until we pronounced it reasonably well. What a brave effort on this girl’s part as none of these students or teachers had used skype before. Then to our delight, the power of the webcamera was shown, when Michael took Livingstone’s laptop outside and showed us the surrounding countryside. One of the school volunteers then explained about the gardens that they were growing to supply food for the children to eat at lunch – corn, pumpkins etc A donkey could be seen in the distance. The picture was crystal clear and it was as if we were actually there!

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Parents came up to us afterwards to say they had no idea we could even do this! What an amazing introduction to the learning that even small country schools can make on a global scale! A fantastic connection – thanks Livingstone and Michael for making this possible!

Read some about our linkup from Michael’s perspective Adventures in Kenya Series – Day 9 – From Mukuyuni to Nakuru