Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Mystery Skyping with Second Graders

I've blogged before about doing Mystery Skypes/Hangouts. I am hooked! It is one of the most engaging and exciting activities I've done with a class. So far, however, I've only done it with 5th grade classes.

Recently I was contacted by a second grade class wanting to #MysterySkype. Because I was hooked I eagerly said yes, but then began to doubt how well a second grade class could understand geography and making the logical guesses needed for this type of activity.

I approached one of our tech savvy second grade teachers, and luckily for me, she agreed! I made the necessary arrangements and a few days ago we Skyped with another class from North Carolina. This was a wonderful, experienced class. The teacher was able to give us some great tips for Mystery Skyping with younger students.

Here's what Ms. Rutledge, the classroom teacher, had to say about the experience.
I must admit, I was a little nervous going into this Mystery Skype. My kids had only a vague mapping understanding, because when in the day do we have time to get in depth with mapping? I had a colleague who helped me get them ready and I felt a little better, but since we had never done anything like this, I was still scared of the possible outcomes. My class rose to the occasion and surpassed all of my expectations. They were intrigued, excited and engaged in this activity, which is contagious! I thought I would be hovering over them like a mother hen, but they were so in control I was not needed for anything but support for materials. The class we partnered with was amazing and I would love to participate in this activity again. 
I completely agree with her. I was pleasantly surprised at how well the second graders did with their first Mystery Skype. They came up with some excellent questions to help narrow down the choices. Not only did they learn about geography, they also practiced critical thinking skills, and got to know a little bit about a class in another part of the country (they have some fun class pets!).

Skyping with another 2nd grade class.

Look at all those states they eliminated!

The students came up with a lot of great questions!
I'm glad Ms. Rutledge's class did this Mystery Skype. It goes to show that students in almost every grade level can learn basic geography and practice critical thinking skills. I'd love to hear about your experiences with Mystery Skype!


  1. Cool beans, Mr. T!! Set high expectations and students will rise to the occasion. What a great example for student engagement. First Grade Factory

  2. Thank you for the comment! When are you going to hook me up with some Skyping contacts out your way?

    Now that I proved to myself that 2nd graders can do it I want to try with even younger grades! One of the cool things Ms. Rutledge did to prepare her class was to practice every day. She thought of a state and the students had to practice asking questions to guess the state. Questions like does it touch an ocean, is it west of the Mississippi River, etc. I think that helped them get that geography sense in their minds.

  3. I am so glad you shared your experience of conducting and facilitating Mystery Skype with younger students. I am a second grade teacher and would love to do this with my class next month. I want to first come up with jobs for my students that are appropriate for their age and grade level. Everything I am finding online is geared towards older students. Is there any way you can share with me your list of jobs you created for this class that were successful(i.e. google mappers, note takers, etc.) Thanks!

    1. Sorry for the late reply - Christmas holidays and all!

      For this particular group there were really only 3 jobs. We had one student in front of the camera answering their questions and asking ours. You can see her in the grey shirt in the first picture. We also had two students marking off states on a big map that everyone could see (second picture). Everyone else had a paper map of the United States at their desk and would track their guesses on that. When a student thought they had a good question they would raise their hand and ask one of the adults. If we agreed that it was a good question then they passed it on to the Questioner.

      You are right, with older students you can assign more jobs and have more thinking going on. I'm sure that if this class did more Mystery Skypes, their geography and thinking skills would improve and they could have other jobs like Google Mappers. But these 3 jobs are the basic ones and seemed to work quite well.