I became intrigued with Mystery Skype about a month ago when I saw the hashtag in my newsfeed on Twitter. I started doing some research and fell in love! I found a lot of awesome resources on Twitter and other tech blogs that I follow and it didn't take long before I was obsessed.
Mystery Skype which we had to change to Mystery Location because Skype and Google Hangouts are blocked by our district is a great way to connect with other classes around the United States and even the world to practice geography skills. We use our video conferencing program called Webx to travel to different states in the US.
I've made most of my Mystery Location connections through Twitter and have really seen the power of a PLN come to life. Planning is definitely a big part of getting Mystery Location off of the ground. I've kept everything organized in a Google Drive table that is beautifully color coded. I also did 3 lessons before our first call to introduce Mystery Location, to come up with questions and to facilitate a practice session.
The 5th grade social studies curriculum in Virginia is entirely geography! They spend all year learning the regions of the US, each state, capital, and everything in between. I knew Mystery Location would be an amazing real world application to put our geography skills to the test!
Essentially Mystery Location is a big game of Guess Who but rather than trying to figure out a person we are trying to figure out a mystery location by asking yes/no questions! Our goal is to figure out their state and sometimes we even go down to the city! Everyone has a job and is fully engaged throughout the call.
We begin the call with Greeters who introduce our class and welcome the guest class. Then we play Rock, Paper, Scissors with the other class to see who gets to ask the first question. The Inquirers are responsible for asking questions and we created a list of questions in Google Drive that they use to go from (i.e. Does you start border another country? Does your state border the Atlantic Ocean? Is your state in the X time zone? Is your state in the X region? etc.) The State Experts are responsible for answering the questions that the other class asks of our state! The Data Collectors are responsible for keeping track the clues and the questions that we ask of the other class using Google Forms. This information goes to the Think Tank. The Think Tank is responsible for using the clues to try to narrow down their location and suggestion questions to the Inquirers. The Runners get information from one group to another because we need to keep the class pretty quiet so we can hear what is going on. There are Map Trackers and Geographers who are in charge of narrowing down the location using wall maps and Google Maps/Earth. The back channelers chat with the guest class on TodaysMeet to help with clues. After the greeter finishes their introduction they are in charge of writing the clues on chart paper. We also have photographers, videographers and reporters to be sure we capture the whole event! The closers finish up the call by thanking the other class and sharing some facts about our school and state. We also like to ask questions about the other school and state!
So far we have connected with 11 different classes in 8 states and we have over 35 Mystery Location calls scheduled in 29 of the 50 states :)! We've had so much fun, learned a TON already, and hope to hit all 50 states before the end of the year!
In addition to an awesome way to practice geography skills we've also integrated writing on our Weebly Mystery Location blog and I am going to come up with some integrated math lessons including measurement, elapsed time, etc.