Oak Ridge Intermediate fifth graders use technology to communication with a school in Connecticut for a critical thinking assignment. photos by spree Hilliard/Lake Sun
Fifth grade students at Oak Ridge Intermediate in Camdenton skyped with a class in Conneticut, but there was one catch — neither class knew where the other class was from. That's why they call their Skype session a 'mystery Skype.' After asking yes and no questions, the classes attempted to guess where each other were from.
Students were assigned to different roles for the Skype — an Internet video chat tool — session. Two data collectors and two researchers were positioned in the middle of the room with the other students gathered around tables on either side of those students. The main Skype computer was at the front of the room with the other class on video was projected on the smart board for all to see.
Each grouping of students had a map and two laptops for researching.
To an observer's eye, the scene looked somewhat like organized chaos. In reality, the students were talking amongst themselves and frantically researching to find answers.
The Camdenton students began asking questions starting with, "Are you located north of the Equator?"
The other students quickly answered, "yes."
Then it was the other school's turn, "Are you located in North America?"
A Camdenton student answered, "yes."
The questions went on in a similar fashion. Camdenton students asked if their counterparts' state bordered an ocean, was west of the Mississippi River and if the first letter of their state's name began with a letter ranging from A to M.
Students from the other school asked the Laker students if they were in the Mountain time zone and if they were north of 40 degrees latitude.
Then began somewhat of a guessing game.
"Are you in Georgia?" asked the other school.
"No," replied a Camdenton student.
"Are you in Texas?"
"Are you in Arkansas?"
Then it happened.
"Are you in Missouri?"
The Camdenton students also tried to guess the other class' state. They asked if they were in New York, Delaware, Georgia, Maine and Maryland until they figured it out — Connecticut.
The game was not quite over yet. They had each figured out which state the other class was in but now for the hard part — which town was the class in?
The Connecticut class asked if the students were located north of Jefferson City in which they replied, "No."
The class began making guesses. Springfield, Macon, Rolla and Union were all options.
Camdenton students asked if the other class was at least an hour from Hartford, Conn. — Connecticut's capitol.
They answered, "About an hour. It depends on traffic."
The Laker students asked other specifics such as if the Connecticut town was north of Highway 91 and if they lived close to the ocean their state borders.
When the classes were about to run out of time, they decided to give each other hints.
"We are from the southern part of Connecticut," the class stated.
"We are close to a body of water," Camdenton students replied.
After two more incorrect guesses, the schools decided to reveal their locations.
The other participating school was from Mystic, Connecticut and had been involved in eight other Skype sessions like this one.
For Kristin Eidson's fifth grade class, this was their first time to participate in a mystery Skype.
"I could not be more proud of your effort today," Tabitha Thompson, Oak Ridge's Media Specialist, said.
After finishing the exercise, the students shared what they enjoyed most about the mystery Skype.
Some enjoyed getting to learn about different parts of the country, getting to talk to other students so far away, meeting new people and working together as a team and getting to see how excited the entire class was about this project.
Thompson agreed and said, "You were all so excited about learning."
Thompson was beaming with pride when explaining why she chose to participate in a mystery Skype with her students.
"I wanted to do this just because it really helps kids with collaborating and critical thinking," Thompson said. "Everybody felt like what they were doing is important."
The mystery Skype is one way that technology is being implemented into classrooms across the country.
"I think technology is a tool we can truly change teaching with," Thompson added.
This was the second class in Camdenton to participate in a mystery skype. Thompson has several more skype sessions set up. She even hopes to Skype with a class in a different county in the near future.