When thinking about what we would do, I was reminded of a Tweet I had seen. I have done a number of Mystery Skypes, but this changes the focus just a little: a mystery ANIMAL skype! It fit perfectly because my 3/4 classes were researching endangered animals. Barbara said ok and away we went!
The hardest part for me was the fact that the students were doing their research in their classrooms, so I actually had no idea what they were learning about those animals. No worries however! As always, the kids rose to the occasion.
Mrs. Francis's class was our first skype, at 9:20. I had them come a little bit early to library class so that we could get organized. We chose an animal from the ones they had been studying - a penguin. We then split up into 3 groups: the experts (those students who studied that animal), the communicators (those students would take turns coming up to the computer to ask the questions and give the answers), and the questioners (they would work together as a group to ask the questions). The questioners also kept track of the questions we had asked, as well as what the other class had asked on a piece of chart paper for us to refer. We began to brainstorm what kinds of questions would help us narrow down the animal. Since these classes had some experience with mystery skypes, the kids had great ideas to begin the questioning.
We got started and introduced ourselves to one another. We then began asking one question at a time. This is a great opportunity to talk about digital citizenship. What happens if you didn't hear or understand the question? Do you just say "What?" in a loud voice or do you ask, "Could you please repeat the question?". These are important conversations to have with students.
Back and forth we went, asking and answering and narrowing down the possibilities. Mrs. Johnson's class figured out our animal. We, on the other hand, needed some hints. We got pretty close - we knew it was an Arctic animal that was fairly small. It turned out to be an ermine! Mrs. Johnson showed us a picture - so cute!
At 10:50 I repeated the skype with Mrs. Greco's class. They too, were divided up into groups. What an amazing job they all did! This time Mrs. Greco's students chose an orangutan. Both groups did an admirable job of trying to figure out the animal. Mrs. Johnson's group got close - they thought it was a baboon. Our class was stumped for a bit - we knew it was an ocean animal with a blow hole. Not a whale. Not a dolphin. I thought perhaps a manatee. Nope. Eventually we did a quick search of animals with blow holes. And ta-da! It was a narwhal!
One of the neat things that Mrs. Johnson's kids did was to create riddles to use as hints. I will remember this next time! What a great idea for when we got stuck.
This was one amazing Digital Learning Day!