Saturday, January 19, 2013

Let the Guessing Begin

Last month, I stumbled upon the Mystery State Project. In this activity, two classrooms video chat with each other but do not reveal their individual locations. Before meeting online, both classes research facts about their own state and create clues about their location. Then, each class takes turns asking yes/no type questions in a race to solve the mystery.

The first clue should be rather general and vague with each subsequent clue becoming more specific and obvious.

The other class went first and our exchange were as follows:

  1. Other class:  Our professional baseball team is very famous.
  2. My class:  Are you on the East Coast?
  3. Other class:  No.
  4. My class:  We are west of the Mississippi River.
  5. Other class:  Are you located in one of the central states?
  6. My class:  No.
Some classes like to assign specific roles to students (i.e. greeter, clue giver, questioner, researcher, runner, photographer, videographer, notetaker, etc.).  However, I like giving all my students some camera time with the other class so this is the method I implemented.

  1. Form teams of three or four students.
  2. Set up three or four chairs in front of the camera.
  3. Each team gets a chance interact with the other class by giving clues and asking questions.
  4. Teams waiting in the wings can strategize as they wait their turn.  They should also be furiously researching and debating over the answer, maybe even tweaking their clues or questions if needed before they sit in front of the camera.
  5. The team that guesses the location of the other class can win a prize.

It was a fun activity for both my students and myself. I loved how they immersed themselves in researching our state so that they can come up with the best clues. Inadvertent learning. Which teacher doesn't applaud that?

When the day came for our online meeting, both classes were really excited. Our mystery partners were enthusiastic and welcoming. Both sides worked hard to guess the other's location with the use of search engines and maps. The period flew by quickly, and soon we had to say goodbye. Later my students asked when we could do it again.

To find other educators who are involved with mystery video calls, you can join Google+ Communities like Connected Classrooms or my friend Jo-Ann Fox's Mystery Location Calls.

What do you think of this activity? How could you adapt it to your classroom? If you'd like to join us in this activity, please contact me. I look forward to working with you!

1 comment:

  1. Alice,
    I've been doing a tiny bit of researching on how I can get my classes to Mystery Skype a bit better - we were just guessing last time we tried it in the fall. If you have more tips before we "meet," please let me know. Thanks!!