I've had several Skype/Google Hangout experiences this year and have learned from each session. However, each session leaves me longing for more, more, more!
My first experience with Mystery Skype took place in November with a 6th grade classroom, and a teacher that had urged me to come up with something to get her students excited and engaged. During our session we had students poring over atlases, writing questions, taking notes about what we'd learned, giggling with excitement, and working together. That session lasted more than an hour, and was such a learning experience for everyone involved. The students were able to write reflectively to describe their participation in the session, detailing what when well, what went not so well, and what they'd like to try next time.
I've been able to participate in 2 additional Mystery Skype sessions with the sixth graders at EBMS, and even took a group of students and teachers to NCTies to share their experience with other educators from North Carolina.
I've also had the chance to coordinate and participate in two sessions with third grade classrooms, as well as a Mystery Number call with a local kindergarten classroom.
All of these experiences have helped me see the value in allowing students to experience critical thinking for themselves. Of course, the students had to be taught and guided through their initial experiences, they have to have guidance during the call, to take in the information, to understand what it means, and then to develop an applicable question that will move toward the answer.
The collaborative thinking and analyzing provides a great learning opportunity for the students. Back-channelling is great way for the introverts to be seen/heard, as well as a great resource both during and after the session. Those students that are composing the questions are using writing and analyzing skills to ensure the question makes sense before it gets handed off to the speaker. Other students are capturing images and composing tweets to be used via social media. The engagement while the session is taking place is high, and the time is well spent.
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