I recently spent time with Ashley Loyd’s third grade class at Brock Elementary. Mrs. Loyd has truly embraced the idea of integrating technology with her students. She regularly uses Google Classroom ( I know because I get all the assignments as a student) and her students are well on their way to becoming digital natives.
I had connected with a colleague of mine through the Discovery Educator Network (DEN) who is also an instructional coach and who had created a technology challenge for her teachers. One of the challenges was to connect either by Skype or Google Hangout with another class. I had contacted Mrs. Loyd and asked her if she would allow me to borrow her class and connect; although she had no clue what I was asking her class to do, she agreed and I set up the Mystery Connection. Unfortunately the original teacher was unable to get her camera working so I used my DEN connections and found a dear friend who lives outside of London, UK who would be able to connect with us.
I arrived at Mrs. Loyd’s class and gave her the basics of a Mystery Connection. Essentially, two classes agree to connect either using Skype or Google Hangouts and use a Twenty Questions format to determine the location of the other class. The questions have to be a yes or no answer. It helps if students are assigned “jobs” during the Mystery Connection as well to control some of the ensuing chaos, but it isn’t required. I explained the process to the students, we got connected (after several missed attempts) and we began our Mystery Connection.
I have to brag on Mrs. Loyd’s class. They did a GREAT job for their first attempt and were successful in determining the location of the British students. It took several questions, a lot of hustling to the map and later using Google Maps, but the students were able to determine through questioning, conversation, and higher order thinking what would be the best tools and the best questions to lead them to their end goal.
I look forward to working with this class on a Mystery Connection in the future and I encourage you to check out a Mystery Skype or a Mystery Hangout as a way to incorporate those four C’s: collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity within YOUR classroom!