Saturday, July 22, 2017

#mysteryskype recording book

Last school year I made it my goal to have my 4th graders Mystery Skype with all 50 states. We first Mystery Skyped the second week of school. Our last Mystery Skype was the second to last week of school. Unfortunately time and curriculum got in the way and we were not able to reach all 50. We did Skype with 21 different states and a few states multiple times. Here's a map of the states we made friends with.
We Mystery Skyped with all states in green.

Besides not Skyping with all 50 states, my only regret was not having the students research a little about each state after we met them. In Nevada the 4th grade social studies curriculum focuses on Nevada while the 5th grade studies the United States. Because of that I wasn't too concerned about it during the year, but in hind sight I think it would have helped students gain a national perspective by doing some simple research.

With that thought in mind I've created a template students can use to record basic state information. I created it in two different formats, depending on the resources available in your classroom. In both formats I created a cover page, a page with instructions for the students, and a template page that can be copied for each state.

In my class we had 1:1 iPads with Book Creator installed. The students absolutely loved using Book Creator and used any free time to create books. This would be a natural fit for them. The video shows what the 3 pages in my Book Creator template look like. You can download the ePub file used by Book Creator here. The elements on the template page are locked so students can't move/delete them. They can still double-tap inside the text box to change the text.

Since a lot of schools are using Google Apps for Education I decided to create this resource in Google Slides format as well. Slides doesn't have a way to lock elements, so students just need to be careful when clicking on elements so they don't accidentally move or delete them. The format is pretty much the same as the Book Creator one. You can make a copy of this template here.

If you use Google Classroom either format is super easy to distribute to your students. You can either attach the Book Creator ePub file which students would then save to their iPad in Book Creator. Or give them the URL to the Google Slides template and they'll be prompted to create their own copy.

Both templates are fully editable so you can change what information you want your students to collect. Whenever we did a Mystery Skype we asked the other class questions and my students always gravitated toward questions like:
  • name of the town
  • name of the school
  • school mascot
  • how many students in the class
My students also like to keep track of who guessed first. All of these might be fun to keep track of, although they aren't specific state information.

Let me know what you think of this resource or share ideas you use in your classroom.

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