Today’s post was written by Anne Mirtschin, teacher at Hawkesdale P12 College, a small rural prep school where students are culturally and geographically isolated. Anne is an active Skype Master Teacher.
Picture the ideal classroom where there is fun, frequent laughter, intense concentration, powerful research, dedicated learning, lots of questions posed, and thinking in different ways. Students are pushed outside their comfort zones, confidence is being instilled, valuable 21st century communication skills are learned in a collaborative work environment. Deep, powerful learning is taking place.
Mystery Skype can bring this atmosphere to the classroom—a classroom that can include any age group, culture, race and country across the world. Everyone loves a mystery and hence the increasing popularity of Mystery Skype. In this ‘game,’ students connect with another classroom or educator using Skype. Students do not know the location of their connecting classroom or educator.
Though a process of questioning, students determine where their virtual partners are located. The learning does not stop there as follow-up activities can be planned such as further research on the location, culture and people of the other classroom. Also ongoing skype connections can be made. Personal reflections on the learning that took place play an important role.
A wonderful and impressive resource is now available to document the skills and knowledge required and gained when using Mystery Skype in the classroom. Mystery Skype OneNote Notebook is now available for use on this brand new website: mysteryskypeonenote.com.
The site includes two options for getting the Mystery Skype OneNote Notebook, depending on your situation:
1. Mystery Skype Class Notebook app
Have Office 365? Get this app! In addition to curriculum for Mystery Skype activities, the Mystery Skype Class Notebook gives you an exclusive interactive space for handouts and collaboration. And you can add students to it and give them private, real-time 1:1 feedback.
Create a customized Class Notebook with this Office 365 app: mysteryskypenotebook
2. Mystery Skype Curriculum
Don’t have Office 365? You can still get a OneNote notebook pre-populated with great content to help you plan and play Mystery Skype with another classroom across the globe…or around the corner.
Download the notebook of curriculum now: mysteryskypecurriculum
For those of you who don’t know, OneNote is a fantastic tool for educational use. It is a digital binder that allows you to create sections for all subjects, topics, themes and then add multiple page links within the sections. OneNote allows learning to be demonstrated through all types of media—text, audio recordings, images, videos, links as well as the ability to write with a Surface pen and utilize many Microsoft programs and tools. It has infinite possibilities to develop into a rich digital record of powerful learning and critical thinking.
Sample of a collaborative OneNote reflection.
The Mystery Skype notebook has something for everyone—teachers both new and experienced to Mystery Skype, and students of every learning style and ability. For “newbies” there are guidelines, links, video tutorials, tips and hints to ensure a successful experience.
The notebook covers the nature of Mystery Skype, how to play the game and where to find others to play Mystery Skype with. There are sections for documenting class adventures; teacher resources; resources for students and tips/hints for successful use. Teachers can add the app to their Office 365 or download the curriculum on any device (since it is saved to your OneDrive) customize it to suit their needs. The only limit to its use is the teacher’s imagination and creativity.
The Mystery Skype Class Notebook also allows teachers to add their students to individual sections of their notebook so they can see 24/7 what students are learning and documenting. In the “Documenting Class Adventures” section, students and teachers can capture their journeys around the world and track where they have been. They can also add highlights of their learning, document questions and answers from the videoconference, list their job assignments and suggest further tips and hints for future calls. Students can add their reflections using text, voice, Surface pen, pictures or images. Even very young students or those with learning challenges or disabled students can keep a rich record.
“Mystery skype is a really good way to learn about other countries and their cultures. Last year when I came to this school I thought that it was amazing that I could do this and I really enjoyed it. It really makes you think about what cultures belong to what countries and you also learn a lot of geography when you are guessing what country they are from. It is an enjoyable way to learn!”
—Lucy, Year 8
As students in my school, in rural south eastern Australia, are geographically and culturally isolated, they love to show where they have “travelled around the globe” by adding pins to the Bing Maps app in Microsoft Excel and then add the map to one of their Mystery Skype notebook pages.
Sample of a Mystery Skype map for 2015.
One of Mystery Skype OneNote’s richest features is to allow the notebook to be shared and enable collaborative student writing and documentation take place.
Read more about my use of Mystery Skype and OneNote on my blog: www.murcha.wordpress.com.