Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Mystery Skype Call With Langwitches!

Mrs. Tolisano invited Mrs. Yollis' class to be part of a 
Mystery Skype call with a group of teachers!

 ♪  ♬  ♫  We opened our call by singing the Hello Song♪  ♬  ♫

Mrs. Tolsano came on and explained the rules:  Two groups come together via Skype, but neither know the other's location. Closed questions, or questions that can only be answered with a YES or a NO answer, were permitted. If a question got a YES answer, a follow-up question was awarded. 

Every third grader contributed and tried to solve the Mystery. Before the call, the class created some useful jobs and gathered resources that would help them be good geography detectives.

Because Mrs. Yollis' third graders were younger than the teachers, the students got to ask first.

We decided that three students should be our Inquirers. They asked the yes or no questions.

 Two Question Keepers sat next to the Inquirers and typed the questions and answers in Word. 
It was helpful to review the yes and no answers quickly. 
Click to Enlarge
Others were Google Mappers. They used Google Maps and traditional atlases to zero in on the clues.

A few students used our giant atlas we call "Big Blue" to find the mystery location.


Another station was filled with Logical Reasoners. They listened to the clues and tried to eliminate states that did not match the clues. 

 Behind the Inquirers were the Clue Keepers. They collected relevant information from everyone.
Jaden and Alexa took notes on TodaysMeet. Here is the transcript!

 Nick was the Runner. If students had problems, Nick would try and solve them. In addition, he would run facts to the Inquirers that the Logical Reasoners wanted to contribute.

 It was a very close game filled with fantastic questions, but we were running low on time! The adults gave the third graders a final clue that they thought would really help. They said, "Pony Express." Sadly, the Pony Express is taught in fourth grade!

So, the teachers quickly offered a geographic clue and...
Mrs. Yollis' class asked if the Mystery Callers lived in St. Joseph, Missouri...


The students then offered a big clue: Our city has the largest population in California!

Kristen was our phabulous photographer!

What did you like about the game?

What were some of the best clues given or received? What would you do next time with the words Pony Express?

What job would you like to be next time? Why?


  1. I was in the group of teachers and principals who Skyped with you today. I must say I was VERY impressed with how everyone in the class was working so diligently on their assignments. It wasn't until I read your post that I realized just how many different jobs you all were doing. Fabulous work, everyone! Here is what I know about the folks in our room today--they were blown away by your energy and will most likely try this same activity in their schools and classrooms next year.

    Best of luck to you all. Thanks again for making our day. :)

  2. Thank you 3rd Grade friends for letting us teachers from St. Joseph, MO play the mystery game with you via Skype. You did an amazing job documenting our session together. Thanks for working so well together and allowing your work to be posted for me to share with my own students. Mrs. Yollis thank you for allowing us into your classroom. It was an experience I will not soon forget:) Mrs. Burright, St. Joseph School District, St. Joseph, MO

  3. Mrs. Yollis,
    I really like this activity. I bet the students learned a lot. I might try it next year. We end our school year in Monroe, NC on June 10th. It sounds like a great learning opportunity. I'll have to jot it down so I remember about it over the summer.

  4. I really enjoyed the experience today. You guys were really tough "opponents" for sure. I was the guy in the crowd who was taking photos of the event. In fact, you might see yourselves in a few of these:

    Actually, I'm betting the soon-to-be-posted video summary that will be here: will be super fun to review. Thanks for playing along with us (and beating us) and thanks for what you are doing.


  5. Dear Mrs. Yollis,

    It was fun when we won the game. I got to be the logical reasoning person with Nicole, and Finn. The logical reasoning was so fun because I got to learn about different states. Finn, it was very awesome that you always got the right answer. Nicole, it was also fun that you always said, "I disagree,"not "NO NO!"


  6. Amitai☺☻ ♥ ♦ ♣ ♠ • ◘June 8, 2011 at 8:55 PM

    Dear Mrs. Yollis,

    I loved the thrilling experience of the mystery skype call, and it made it even more thrilling when we won! I thought that we might lose because we were competing against thirty teachers!

    I was a Google maps person and I really enjoyed my position. I also noticed a lot of people needed help during the skype call, so I think next time we have a "Mystery Skype Call" we should have two runners.

    During music, Nick found a few four leaf clovers, which I think gave us a little extra luck.


    P.S. Kristen you took same amazing pictures!

  7. Dear Mrs. Yollis,

    I really liked doing the skype call!

    By the way, I was doing Todays Meet.

    One thing that I really injoyed was learning and asking questions about their state. A question that I thought was a Big Give away from us was that our state has the largest population, of course they figured it out fast.(Los Angeles)

    To me I think it was funny that we won against Thirty Teachers. Wow!

    Another thing that I thought was funny is that they figured out our state first, but we got it after them, and we got their city first, and won the game.

    I thought it was really fun!


  8. Dear Mrs. Yollis,
    I loved reading about your Mystery Skype call! What a fabulous idea! I loved how your students narrowed their choices with thoughtful questions. They used important resources to check their thinking! The best part was that they figured out the answer!
    I think this might be a fun activity to try next year with one of my classes!
    What a super way to finish your year!
    Mrs. Hembree

  9. What a brilliant idea. I'm a writer, not a teacher, but for me learning what grabs kids' attention in the classroom is so essential. I love how all the students worked together as a team, and different groups had different jobs but all needed to work together to 'sleuth out' who was on the other end of the Skype session.

    Thanks so much for sharing this!

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

  10. Dear Mrs Yollis
    What a great way to put together all the skills you have learned during your Grade 3 year.
    Skills such as: listening, questioning, co-operating,thinking,researching, searching and formulating; using your geography knowledge, and reading and writing skills.

    Can you think of any more skills that you made use of?

    And the important thing is, I'm sure you had a lot of fun!

    from Mrs M♔Kenzie

  11. Dear Mrs. Yollis,

    We loved doing the Mystery Skype Call with Langwitches. Jaden hopes that we can do this again. Also, Jaden says that it was very hard to find out that they were in St. Joseph. Misha wants to know if there is a museum for the Pony Express.
    Jaden's job was Todays Meet and Misha's job was Logical Reasoning.

    Misha says that was fun for him because he got to cross off states. It was fun for Jaden because he likes to type.

    Jaden says that next time he wants to be someone who writes down the questions and yes or no if we do it again because he likes typing and he does not want to have the same job two times in a row.

    Misha wants to be a Google Maps person because he knows a lot about maps like where St. Joseph is without looking sometimes. It is located in the northwest corner of Missouri.

    Jaden realized that Kristen took fabulous photos. Misha recognized that when Kristen took a picture of Logical Reasoning, he blocked Finn in the picture by accident.

    Jaden and Misha

  12. Dear Sean,

    Thank you for leaving a well written comment on our blog! Mrs. Yollis said that it might have been impossible for us to win the little competition. Now look how happy our class was in the picture. Jumping, hugging, laughing, slapping five, and screaming "WE WON!" How exiting it was for us students!

    In the beginning, it was hard because you had our state, and we were still asking about yours, but that did not stop us. Until you asked if we were north of Los Angeles, we knew we had you at stake.

    We loved meeting all of you!

    Iman and Amitai
    (Google Mappers)
    (Mrs. Yollis' Class)

  13. Dear Mrs.Yollis,

    What an amazing Skype call. I can`t believe we won! We hope we can play another time. It was fun when we finally found out where they live. We can't wait until we get learn about "Pony Express' in fourth grade. I thought they lived in Independence, Missouri, but they really lived in St. Joseph, Missouri.

    We were hoping they lived in Hawaii because we would really like to get to know all about Hawaii. She did not fool us when she started speaking several different languages!

    Andrew guessed that they lived in Texas because of her accent.

    Nice to Skype with all of you!

    Ben, Andrew, and Ryan ★ ★

  14. Dear Mrs. Yollis,

    The mystery skype call was so intense. We couldn't believe that we won against the adults.

    We liked that everyone worked together without complaining.

    Miriam would like to be the photographer because she likes taking photos. Nick would like to be the runner again because everyone was patient and polite to him.

    We would like to do it again!

    Nick and Miriam

  15. Dear Mrs.Yollis,

    If we do another mystery skype call, I would like to be the Clue Keeper again because I got to cross out states on my map of the United States of America.
    Everyone was SO excited when we won the game.

    It took a lot of questions to win the friendly game of mystery skype call.

    Are we going to do anther mystery skype call?
    Will I have the same job?
    Will the skype call be with teachers or students?


  16. Dear Mrs. Yollis and class,

    We treasured the experience of the new game “Mystery Skype Call.” We think that it is a unique way to learn about geography, maps, and other states and countries. All of us think that we should play the game again someday.

    The game requires patience, responsibility, and number one of all, you have to be very smart!

    I (Adia) enjoyed being one of the inquirers, and I wouldn't mind doing it again. Although, maybe next time it would be fun to be one of the question keepers because I'm a fast typist, and I enjoy doing that.

    Also, it would be fun to be a runner. The reason that I think I would be a good runner is because I have great times solving problems and figuring out a solution. For example, I had to decide whether or whether not to go to a camping trip or go to participate/watch a black belt test. My mom and I wrote on a piece of paper the minuses and pluses of going to both of them. At the end, we decided to go to the Girl Scouts camping trip for one day and to participate/watch the black belt test for the next two days. We had a blast!

    I (Grace) had a great experience on Google Maps. I wouldn't mind being one of the Google Maps people again, but next time I would rather be a runner, inquirer, or a clue keeper. The reason that I think that I should be a runner is that I think that I can be pulled in two different directions without being crazed at the same time.

    The reason that I think that I would be a great Inquirer is that I can come up with questions really fast by looking at the map. Also, I think that I would be an amazing clue keeper because I can comprehend really well and think at the same time.

    We really hope that we get to have this opportunity again!


    Grace and Adia

  17. Dear Mrs. Yollis and students,
    I have skyped with many many schools and students from around the world and I have to tell you that our Mystery call has been one of my favorite ones. I especially liked that you were so involved in the mystery, worked with each other to solve it and in the process taught so many other teachers that learning iS FUN! Don't ever forget that. Have a wonderful summer.
    Muchos saludos...
    Viele Gruesse...
    Greetings from the "Sunshine State".
    Mrs. Tolisano

  18. Jaden & Misha,
    Yes, there is a Pony Express Museum. You can see their website at:
    There is also an annual Pony Express Ride that follows the same route from St. Joseph to Sacramento. I did not attend the conference where you skyped with our administrators, but I have enjoyed reading about your competition.
    Brenda Elifrits, Curriculum Admin. Assistant, St. Joseph School District

  19. What a wonderful activity! I taught 3rd grade for many years, but we didn't yet have Skype in the classroom. I am sure that my students would have loved a Mystery Skype call. I love the way your groups worked together to solve the mystery and the way it was chronicled in this blog. This is definitely a great example of a 21st Century Classroom in action!

  20. Dear Mrs. Yollis and Class,

    Gracie was so excited to tell me all about the Mystery Skype Call yesterday. Now, reading the post it looks like an exciting and interactive mission. The questions you asked the mystery skyper reminds me of a board game I like to play with Gracie and her brother!
    If I had been part of the Skype activity, I would have enjoyed being the Clue Keeper because it would be fun to collect all the clues and make educated guesses from those clues!
    Thank you very much for sharing all of your wonderful posts with us this year. You have kept us quite educated and entertained :)

    Wishing you all a happy and relaxing summer.

    (Gracie's mom)

  21. ♥ ★ ♥ ★ ♥ ★ ♥ ★ ♥ ★ ♥ ★ ♥ ★ ♥

    @ My students,

    I am exceedingly proud of each and every one of you! Wow! Each student took their job seriously, and worked hard to solve the mystery as a team. As your teacher, I am glowing with pride!

    All year long we have learned to think, to read, to write, to problem solve, to help one another... and this exercise put all of those skills into action! You were like Mulan...triumphant! Thank you for a wonderful experience!

    @ Everyone,

    Thanks so much for all the kind words of support! As you can see, it was a rich learning opportunity for all. I highly recommend the experience and look forward to doing another Mystery Skype Call in the future! Contact me via Twitter if you're game! :-)

    @ Mrs. Tolisano,

    Thank you so much for the invitation! To have twenty third graders working together at full capacity was magical! I always enjoy working and learning with you!

    Your friend,
    Mrs. Y♥llis

    ♥ ★ ♥ ★ ♥ ★ ♥ ★ ♥ ★ ♥ ★ ♥ ★ ♥

  22. Dear Mrs. Yollis and Class,

    I was one of the teachers from St. Joseph, MO. From what I saw during the game and reading your comments on here, I can tell that you are amazing kids! I was impressed that you worked so well together and all did your jobs. I told everyone I could about my experience. I am trying to come up with ways I can try something like this with my 1st graders next year.

    Thank you again for sharing your classroom and your work with us! Keep up the good work!

  23. Dear Mrs Yollis and class, I really enjoyed reading your post. I am a literacy consultant and work with many teachers and schools in Melbourne (Australia) and I follow a few different class blogs here. Every now and then I come across a link to your blog through twitter. I get very excited about the wonderful work some schools are doing. I look forward to reading more about your work during the year. From Sara

  24. Dear Mrs. Yollis and class,
    What a fun project! Ben came home and told me all about it and how much fun it was to solve the mystery and skype.
    Its great to see you all so enthusiastic and having fun learning!
    Ben's mom

  25. Dear Mrs. Yollis,

    I know this is off topic, but please go to my blog and read my new post. You might think you know what it is about. I'll give you a clue. BB's latest blog post.

    Happy Birthday,

  26. Thank you so much for this post! It is so inspiring to see students so engaged in a project. I'm putting together a guide for some 5th grade teachers about Mystery Skype and included a link to this post! Thank you!


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