Sunday, October 21, 2012

Mystery Skypes

It has been a busy few weeks in the Curtis Library!  As you know, we just finished with our record-setting book fair!! Thanks to everyone for helping and shopping!!  Before our book fair however, we participated in two Mystery Skypes!  I had seen teachers and librarians tweeting about this on Twitter, and thought it would be a great experience for our students.  Turns out it was! The premise of a Mystery Skype is that two classes Skype, neither knowing where the other class is.  Through "yes" and "no" questions, they try to determine the location of the other class. The first class to participate was Mrs. Pitman's 5th graders who came into the library early one Tuesday morning.  The students brought with them maps and atlases to use during the Skype.  There were also laptops set up for students to use.  Mrs. Pitman and I had worked with the students to help them understand their responsibilities during the Skype.  Since this was our first time, our mystery class was kind enough to go first and they guessed our state within five questions!!  Way to go Mrs. Kilpatrick's class!  Then it was our turn!  We were definitely nervous, but through questioning and some deductive reasoning, Mrs. Pitman's class was able to guess Massachusettes as the location of Mrs. Kilpatrick's class!!

The Mystery Skype was so fun, I talked Mr. Prentice's first period class into doing a Mystery Skype that Friday.  I had seen another teacher looking for a class to connect with, so I went to Mr. Prentice, who had been working with his students on map skills during the first six weeks.  Mr. Prentice assigned jobs to his students and I prepared them for the format of the Skype visit.  Due to scheduling issues, the students had a "Lunch & Learn" and Skyped during their lunch period.

The Mystery Skype class asked their questions first, and were able to guess that we were located in Texas.  The students had been advised to be careful with accents and using "y'all"!!  :)  Then it was our turn!  Mr. Prentice's class used great questioning strategies and map skills to determine Mrs. Parisi's class was located in New York! 
Here is a video of the end of the Mystery Skype:
This was an engaging learning experience for both of these classes and something we hope to repeat in the near future.  I am sure that questioning techniques will improve the more the students participate, and what a great way to apply those map skills the students have been learning!  Thanks to both of these classes for representing Curtis Elementary so well! Two more locations have now been added to our Global Connections Map in the library!


  1. Hi Shawna,

    Love the mystery skype idea! I am going to see if I have any interest from my teachers (I am a K-6 librarian, too.) Did you connect with potential skypers via twitter? Also, like your "Where Do we Connect" map. That is our them in the library this year and I have been thinking of using a map to track where the books we read take place. How do you use your map?

    Thanks! Leslie Hesterman, Illinois

  2. Thanks, Leslie! We are really enjoying our Mystery Skypes and use the map to document places we have Skyped. I have connected with most people through Twitter and find it a wonderful resource for making connections. Let me know if you are interested in Skyping!