The Skype worked well. The students gathered in a group on rug in the school library. Coincidentally, the rug was a map of the USA, which helped because the Skype was a Mystery Skype. After they asked me numerous questions to figure out my location, I asked them if they had a map. Finally, through process of elimination, they figured out I was in Connecticut.
At the end of the Skype, they shared with me their Dot Trading Cards. They will be mailing these cards, so my class can respond and create their own Trading Cards to send back to the Maryland class. Some photos I took of their Dot Trading Cards are at the end of this blog post. The students took turns showing their cards and asking me if I tried the idea they offered. For instance, one wanted to know if I ever body surfed. That worked well because I grew up on an island where both body surfing and regular surfing were popular.
I let them know that I live in another location now and offered them these clues: my state has rivers and lakes and borders the ocean. They tried Delaware, Maine, and Rhode Island, all states bordering the Atlantic Ocean. They asked me if my state had "New" in the title. When I told them it did not, that helped them eliminate some other states. By that time, they knew I lived on the East coast in a state north of theirs. Finally, they figured out the state was Connecticut. One of the students offered a sibling attends Yale University in the state. I showed them some pictures representative of the state such as the Capitol Building and our state bird, the Robin.
All in all, it was a wonderful experience. Both Dot Day and Skype are ideal ways to connect classes around the world. I was privileged to have this opportunity to meet with a class in another location at the press of a few buttons. Technology offers many learning opportunities. I learned of places to visit in Maryland, and we also discussed the National Mall in DC, which is not far from where the students live.
I also suggested that if they ever get to Connecticut, they should visit Mystic Seaport and Mystic Aquarium. I introduced them to Mark Twain and showed them a picture of his house in Hartford. I mentioned the author Lemony Snicket, who some heard of, and told them he went to college in Connecticut. I also squeezed in that Noah Webster, of dictionary fame, lived in the town where my university is located, and showed the students a picture of the Noah Webster House, now a museum. Here two pictures I shared about historic sites and one about Lemony Snicket. I hope they search their school library to find out more about each.
Students Skyping with other classes makes for excellent geography lessons and information sharing. We even discussed time zones. They wanted to know if I lived in Europe at the start of the Skype. We then discussed what time it would be in England now. There are so many possibilities for learning by using Skype or another video conferencing tool.
What do you see as the possibilities for integrating video conferencing into the classroom setting? Would you be willing to try a Mystery Skype with your students? What areas of the curriculum other than geography do you believe can be achieved through these kinds of contacts? How can video conferencing across classes support curriculum goals and what students should be learning?
For more insight into video conferencing, I encourage you to contact Matthew Winner, the school librarian who arranged this Skype. His Twitter name is @MatthewWinner if you want to tweet with him. I am sure he will welcome the opportunity, and he might be able to connect you with classes who will Skype with you or your classes.
Here is image of tweet conversation with Matthew Winner following the Skype:
Another way to get in touch with Matthew Winner is through his The Busy Librarian Blog.
On the blog, he has posts about Dot Day and Skypes. Here is a link to one of his posts: Dot Day Connectors Map
Enjoy the pics of the students' Dot Trading Cards.