Love Creek third-graders visited Aguascalientes, Mexico, recently thanks to a program that encourages real-time global connections in the classroom.
Through Skype, students connected online with an unknown classroom whose location they had to figure out through a series of questions, receiving only yes or no responses.
“Are you on the East Coast? Are you south of the United States?” students asked their online counterparts.
In turn, Mexican students asked, “Are you next to the ocean? Are you in New York?”
Students were assigned different roles - greeters, question askers and answerers, notetakers, mappers and social media recorders - to quickly narrow down geographical regions.
Teacher Becky Vansant said Mystery Skype allows students to put their learning to practical use.
“We study the seven continents, oceans, landmarks, the concepts of places and regions, using directions and how to read maps and globes,” Vansant said. “All match perfectly with our standards.”
Students used maps and clues to narrow down where their counterparts went to school, before Mexican students asked, “Are you in Delaware?” Love Creek students excitedly answered “Yes!” then asked, “Are you in Aguascalientes, Mexico?”
When a Mexican student held a poster that said “Yes” to the screen, students cheered. After the game, students talked to each other about life in their towns, favorite foods, school, and traditions and holidays.
Love Creek students learned that their new Aguascalientes friends ate sugared sweet potatoes in the winter and enjoyed many of the same activities - playing football and video games, skateboarding, riding bikes and dancing.
Aguascalientes students told Love Creek students they celebrate Day of the Dead by decorating sugar skulls and honoring their ancestors by visiting cemeteries and making private altars with favorite foods, beverages, photos and memorabilia of their deceased loved ones.
Vansant said her bilingual student Maydali Velasquez Lopez was born in Mexico, so she selected Mexico as their first Mystery Skype game to make a special global connection.
“The students didn’t know where we were going, but I was able to choose to make a meaningful connection,” Vansant said. “We are hoping to find a way to visit all seven continents before the year is over!”