Mystery Skype is an educational game, invented by teachers, played by two classrooms on Skype. The aim of the game is to guess the location of the other classroom by asking each other questions.
It's suitable for all age groups and can be used to teach subjects like geography, history, languages, mathematics and science.
1. Find a class
Join the list and message or tweet teachers you’d like to connect with. Our community is full of teachers who want to arrange Mystery Skype lessons with other classes.
2. Arrange a time
When you’ve found a class you'd like to Mystery Skype with, agree on a date and time for your lesson. Make sure you add each other as Skype contacts before your call too.
3. Share your story
We love to see your Mystery Skype stories, photos and videos. Share them on Twitter by mentioning @SkypeClassroom and using the #MysterySkype hashtag.
Recommended for beginners and younger age groups
Students in each class prepare a set of 20 questions and 5-10 clues for the other class before their call. The classes try to guess each other’s location by answering the questions and using additional clues for a little extra help. This can work well for your first Mystery Skype lesson and is a good way to improve your students’ knowledge of where they live.
Remember to remove your location from your Skype and Twitter profiles so you do not reveal your mystery location by accident.
Recommended for more experienced classes
Classes are only allowed to ask each other questions which will get a yes or no answer. The number of questions may be limited to 20 if you want an additional challenge. These lessons can be more spontaneous and require students to think on their feet as the questions aren’t prepared in advance.
Don’t be afraid to let your students control the Mystery Skype call. This teaches them how to self-organize, think critically and be creative.
Recommended for experienced classes
Some teachers have found that when students have specific responsibilities during a Mystery Skype lesson they work better as a team and the whole class becomes more engaged.
These roles can include greeters, question keepers, Bing mappers, runners, bloggers, photographers, live tweeters, reporters, and anything else that works for your class.
If you need some more ideas, teacher Pernille Ripp has put together a fantastic list on her blog of the jobs that her class has developed.
Keep a Mystery Skype map in your classroom where you mark the calls you make.
Don’t let timezones keep you from playing Mystery Skype with classrooms all over the world. It’s simple to use video messaging when a face to face video call is not possible.
You can start or end your day by receiving a message from the other classroom with their question and answer, then send your own in response. Sending and receiving video messages is completely free, so give it a try.
“I think the big thing is letting the kids take control. Have one of the students act as the teacher and one as the supervisor to ensure that the call goes well. This allows them to take ownership of the process. I am only the spectator during Mystery Skype. That, for me, is the biggest thing.”Pernille Ripp, 5th grade teacher, Middleton, Wisconsin
Make sure your computer has the latest version of Skype installed on it to ensure the best call quality. You can download Skype for free here.
Make sure your students have access to a set of maps, atlases and globes. Registering at Bing in the Classroom provides a safe and ad-free search environment and maps for schools.
Remember to organize a 5 minute test call before your lesson with another teacher, family member or friend to make sure everything is working correctly.
Have a Mystery Skype de-briefing session after each call that will get your students thinking of new ways to improve their performance.
Teach your students about Skype etiquette: speak clearly, look into the webcam and raise your hand. Mrs Morgan’s blog has some excellent tips for Skype etiquette for students.
“Be honest with your students about being new to Mystery Skype, learn together and let them be a part of it. The more you let them be a part of it, the more they buy into it. The hardest part for teachers is handing control over to the students.”Katy Gartside, 5th grade teacher, New York City, New York
We’re making it easy for teachers to plan Mystery Skype lessons with other teachers from around the world. Join our Mystery Skype list to take part and start connecting with other classrooms.