Introducing: Kid Vision

Plugged In HeartEducators have shadowed students through the school day, but when was the last time we actually saw school through a students’ eyes? I think we can learn a lot if we could see what they see. So when I was invited by two of Fair Haven’s rock star teachers, Mrs. Raibick and Ms. Piotrowski, to join their third grade class for a Mystery Skype I thought it would be fun to see the lesson from a student’s perspective, so I strapped a GoPro on one of their kids head and off we went!

If you’re not familiar with a Mystery Skype or Mystery Hangout, it is when two classes meet virtually on either Skype or Google Hangouts at a predetermined time to play games similar to 20 Questions. I’ve heard of Mystery Animal, Mystery Number, Mystery Profession… you get the idea. In this Kid Vision video, students are trying to guess what state their counterpart is from. Our teachers prepped for days in advance for the Mystery Skype which was one of the culminating activities at the end of their unit on states and regions. From dropping into the classroom days before the event, it was easy to see that kids were working extra hard and super engaged as they wanted to make sure they guessed the state correctly. I asked Mrs. Rabick and Ms. Piotrowski to outline the steps they took to make this a success. Here’s what they said:

Steps for Mystery Hangouts-

  1. Incorporate the Mystery Skype into a geography unit or review of regions, climates, and bodies of water.
  2. Have questions prepared ahead of time for both parties to use, so you both know what questions are coming your way and how to answer them.
  3. Each student should have their own maps on a clipboard with them during the Hangout. Have each student color code the regions on their map ahead of time. They can use a pencil to cross off any states that they need to during the Skype. 
  4. Assign each student a question to ask and have that same student answer that same question for the other party (It’s best to have the questions and answers written on individual index cards for the children).
  5. Have a greeter and a closer. The greeters welcome and the closers thank the other party for the experience (make sure every student has some time of job and is involved).
  6. If working with early elementary students, assign them spots on the rug in the order that will be speaking.
  7. REHEARSE. REHEARSE. REHEARSE- Place tape on the floor where you would like the children to stand in front of the webcam. Have each student come up to the camera to practice making eye contact and speaking their parts (We started preparing and rehearsing with my class a week and half ahead of time).
  8. Do a practice Skype with someone in your district
  9. Come up with a hand signal for the children to give you when they have figured out where the other party is located.
  10. Have them reflect on this experience.

As a fun addition, these two classes plan on staying in touch through the year by becoming penpals!

Their are a ton of different types of Mystery Skypes and Hangouts and a growing community has sprung up to help educators connect. Check the hashtags #MysterySkype or #MysteryHangout on social media. Check out Microsoft’s official Mystery Skype page and the Google Mystery Hangout Community (the Mystery Skype community is stronger than the Mystery Hangout community right now) and Ms. Piotrowski said she’d be happy to answer your questions if you email her at piotrowskic@fairhaven.edu

After recording the event, I sent it to the teachers for reflection. I also decided to ask for some student commentary! The morning after, I grabbed my subject and we recorded some reflective commentary about his experience with the Mystery Skype. Below you can see the video with commentary and the uncut Kid Vision video (the kids came up with that name!).

The video, to me, is a great example of effective teaching and the engagement an exciting lesson can deliver. I plan on continuing to expand the Kid Vision project to showcase the amazing things going on in our district and to learn new things about education when we remember to see it through students’ eyes.