Math and Mystery Number Skypes

Mystery Number Skype
Mystery Number Skype

During the month of March many primary classes in my school are emphasizing whole number characteristics. Second grade was and continues to focus on place value, even/odd numbers and patterns.  Students used base ten blocks last Monday and played Name that Number with their peers. Teachers in the upper grades in my district have experimented with Mystery Skypes over the past few years, so I thought there might be value in using them in math class.  Last year my class had a Skype session with a school in New York.  Remembering the experience, I thought it might be a good idea to research this further.  While looking through my Twitter feed I was able to connect with @vjohnsonsdb, a second grade teacher.  Val was looking for another class to have a Mystery Number Skype with.  We agreed to have a session last Thursday.

Before the class began I reviewed a few different sites (1, 2, 3) related to the nature of number Skypes.  The students came up with a few questions before the Skype and roles were assigned.  Here are a few questions that were part of our brainstorming session:

  • Is the number even or odd?
  • Is the number between 1 – 25?
  • Is there a 5 or more in the tens place?
  • Is there a thousands place?
  • Do all the digits added together equal 10 or more?

Students were assigned roles as a questioner, ambassadors and researchers.  After we found each class’ mystery number, students were given an opportunity to ask questions about the other class. Afterwards, we researched the other class’ location.  We reflected on the experience and are looking forward to our next Mystery Skype.

Using Skype to Learn about School Communities

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Throughout this school year my class has been focusing in on the topic of community. The class has engaged in learning activities related to building a positive classroom community of learners.  We’ve co-created anchor charts and thoroughly discussed what our learning community looks like.  While searching for new ideas, I came across a unique idea … a classroom was going to have a Skype session with many different schools across the world about the topic of community.  I decided to sign up for this activity a few weeks ago.

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Before the Skype, guiding questions were developed by the host.

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I confirmed my class’s participating with Katy and my students were split into three groups. One group became the welcoming party.  Students created signs and communicated the school’s demographic and geographical data.   The second group was designated as the research group.  This collection of students researched information about the local and school community.  In doing so, the students also were reminded of how much of an emphasis we put on creating a positive learning community in the classroom.  This group put together a small presentation for the 5A class (Katy’s class).  The third group, the questioning group (still looking for a better name for this group), was directed to create at least 10 questions that the 5A school would answer.  This group was also expected to answer the questions that were asked from the other school.

Today my class had a chance to Skype with Katy’s class from New York City. Katy’s tireless fifth grade class engaged in approximately 15 different Skype sessions in one day – that’s some perseverance.

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The Skype session involved both schools discussing the topic of community.  My class learned about 5A’s class community and they learned about ours.  The total session lasted around 25 minutes.  Afterwards, the class reviewed and compared the two communities.  My class was especially intrigued that 5A had recess on the roof!

This  method of comparing communities through Skype seemed to enhance the learning experience.  Soon after the Skype session ended, my students wanted to research other communities around the world.  This may be a kick-off to #geniushour projects in the fall.

What do you think?  Have you tried Skyping with another class to learn about community?