Tag Archives: Mystery Skype

Mystery Skype: There’s no mystery here.

This past week my ENG3C class participated in a Mystery Skype with another Ontario grade 11 class. There are so many directions this post can take:

  • What happens when you have a PLN…
  • What happens when you say “Yes” to your PLN…
  • What happens when your colleagues believe in the work you do…
  • What happens when the technology fails you…
  • What happens when the students are collaborators in the design of the event…
  • What happens when students are willing to risk themselves to share a bit of who they are…
  • What happens when it’s over…

But, today I want to focus on what happens when we understand the power of technology integrated into our teaching and our students’ learning.

PB260476

We have been using some technology in our class this semester. A wiki that houses lessons, video, and other resources, Google docs, and recently Twitter and Edublogs . Much of this tech integration is straight-up substitution, and although students are enjoying tweeting out learning goals and daily takeaways, and having access to the Internet in the classroom via Chromebooks, the interaction still falls into the ‘fun and games’ category. I cringe every time I am asked if my students are more engaged because of the technology in my room.

In reality, it has taken us months to feel comfortable using Chromebooks, to understand Google Drive, and to incorporate any of the tech and tools into our day. We have not yet had enough experience using the Internet and its products as learning resources. Social media platforms continue to be used strictly for personal use, so bringing them into the learning environment did cause some surprise. And what they did not impact at all was our intellectual engagement with the course big ideas, questions, and materials. There have been no sparks, no meaningful connections, no newly discovered rabbit holes.

When Sarah Le tweeted me about the possibility of running a Mystery Skype with our two English classes with the ultimate goal of having a conversation about First Nations stereotypes, my antennae began to crackle. Here was an opportunity to test the power of flattening the walls, engaging authentically, and creating conversation for learning.  And yet, what underpins all of this is our ability to think…to plan, to predict, to design, to gather appropriate resources, to problem solve, to collaborate, to take risks. This event, then, was not about technology, at least not wholly.

We had plenty of time to get ready for the big day. We had assigned roles, prepped questions, vetted the other class’ questions, gathered some resources, and held a dry run of the event.  The Internet was a bid dodgy, but otherwise, the students felt they were ready. We weren’t. The second the call ended, students began to evaluate their performance.

“We needed to have better questions prepared.”

“We needed to have thought through a strategy to help us figure out where they were.”

“We needed to be better at responding to questions.”

“We need to be better organized.”

“We need to communicate more with each other.”

In under an hour, students recognized and articulated their learning needs; the same learning needs that I have spent the last two months teaching to. The difference? I think their expressions say it all.

PB260486

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Teaching

Mystery Skype. A truly collaborative event.

Last week, the ENG3C class participated in a Mystery Skpye. What an adventure!

A Mystery Skype is an online event held through Skype in which neither group knows where the other group is in the world. Through a series of closed questions (yes/no), participants piece together where they are calling from until one group guesses the correct location of the other group.

Minds On

This opening exercise was certainly a fun and engaging way to set the stage for the real purpose of the call: a conversation between teens about their lives. As the conversation about First Nations people grows in the public domain, more and more people are realizing that they do not know very much about First Nations people or the issues emerging from their communities. What interferes with the general public’s understanding of First Nations’ issues is the ongoing use of First Nations’ stereotypes, and this is a topic that some educator’s meet head on in their classrooms. Sarah Le from Orangeville District Secondary School is one such teacher. Through a variety of texts, Mrs. Lee, pushes her students to understand the multiple perspectives that must co-exist in our society, including that of First Nations, Inuit, and Metis peoples.

Our camera person listening intently for the next question.

Action

The Skype went off…with a couple of hitches. We were met with the challenge of acquiring the right gear (external webcam and tripod), finding an Internet signal that would give us enough bandwidth to enable the video to work, and overcoming our shyness and nervousness to both be on camera and to think on the spot! But we did it. We had coaches scrounging up the gear for us and teaching me how to get the technology ready, we had students problem solving how we might solve our weak Internet issue, and we had students who stepped up to the plate at the last second to take on larger roles than they had originally prepared for. What’s the definition of collaboration? To create something together that we could not create individually. We certainly nailed collaboration in this event!

Consolidation

When the Skype call ended, the first question we had was, “When do we do this again?” We were energized and engaged, and we wanted more. Our reflections about this event are ongoing. Students are / will be posting to their own blogs using the “What? So What? Now What?” reflective model.

from Commons Wikimedia.org

What?

What happened?

What did you observe?

So What?

Did you learn a new skill or clarify an interest?
How is your experience different from what you expected?
What impacts the way you view the situation/experience? (What lens are you viewing from?)
What did you like/dislike about the experience?
How did the experience relate to your coursework?

Now What?

What learning occurred for you in this experience?
How can you apply this learning?
What can be done to improve this type of work?

Leave a comment

Filed under Professional Learning