What is a Mystery Skype?
A Mystery Skype project involves students in a simple guessing game. Two classrooms arrange to connect with each other using Skype video, and then ask questions to discover each other’s locations around the world.
It can be adapted for different age groups, languages and to fit in with what a class is currently studying.
With Mystery Skype, students to not only learn about another place, but develop a stronger understanding of their own communities... as they become the "experts" of their regions.
However, the project involves more than just the call that day. Students are assigned different roles to help detect where the other class is from.
Why is it Worth Our Time?
When students engage in a Mystery Skype, a variety of skills and literacy are developed. Such as:
As explained by Silvia Tolisano, in Langwitches Blog with a Mystery Skype, “the actual experience should be framed by pre-activities that activate prior knowledge and post-activities that give students the opportunity to reflect, create and connect these new experiences”. This means in addition to the call, students will need to become experts of their community as part of their pre-learning. After the Skype call students will also need to participate in post discussion as well as projects which encourage reflection on the experience.
Students could reflect on the following questions in their post-discussion reflection.
Students would benefit from being able to choose how they will share their learning. The following ideas were adopted from Langwitches Blog:
Post-Call Activities could include:
Cross Curricular Competencies for K-12 that are highlighted when students engage in a Mystery Skype Project.
Students Working Collaboratively to Solve the Question of Location
Check out the images below of Suzanne Louttit's grade 5/6 class working collaboratively with a variety of tools and roles to figure out where the other Skype Team is located.
How Do You Launch a Mystery Skype?
Resources to Assist with Mystery Skype
On the right are resources created by Silvia Tolisano the creator of Langwitches Blog on how teachers can get started with Mystery Skype. Some of the resources focus mainly on connecting with American communities, but these can be adapted for a more global perspective.
Another site you might want to check out is What is Mystery Skype and 7 Steps to Get Started. There are simple instructions, even with connecting to Skype.
If you are an educator who uses Twitter, then you can connect with fellow educators who Mystery Skype via #MysterySkype - Click on the link and check in with other teachers who may wish to Mystery Skype with you!
What about Time Zones? How Can We Get Around That?
The only issue that gets in the way of a Mystery Skype is the not being able to connect because of time zones. So, what can you do if you can’t have an Asynchronous Mystery Skype Chat?
See the directions provided by Brandon Hall the author of the Learn Around the World Blog, on how to conduct an “Asynchronous Mystery Hangout” across time zones. If you are able to find a teacher who would like to engage in this format, it might be worth it!
Mystery Skype Overview for Teachers
How Can We Integrate Mystery Skype into Language Classrooms?
Exciting ways Language Teachers can add some excitement to their lessons can be through Mystery Skype. To take part, teachers can join the Mystery Skype Community via a variety of online communities. To check them out, see the links below, or visit Twitter and find connections via the hashtag #MysterySkype or Tweet @MysterySkype.
Mystery Skype for Foreign Language Teachers Blog
Mystery Hangouts for Foreign Language Teachers Google Community
Ways to Connect With Mystery Skype
The following are links to communities that teachers can join to get involved in a Mystery Skype
Documents on Mystery Skyping
This work (Listening to a Poem, by Kathy Cassidy) is free of known copyright restrictions.