I spent a couple hours in Jimmy Sapia’s fourth-grade classroom at Springdale Elementary School earlier today, during which i had the opportunity to observe a variety of lessons (fourth-grade is my favorite, after all …). Over the course of the afternoon, I had the chance to check out some reading and writing lessons, but the cherry on the sundae was definitely the mystery skype.
Here’s how mystery skype was explained to me: Sapia found a fourth-grade teacher at a school in another state whose classroom Skyped in with his for about 10 or 15 minutes, I lost track. During that time, students from each school presented clues about the state they live in. While one classroom recited clues, the others used their sleuth skills on Google, Wikipedia, good old fashioned maps and other means to determine which state the other classroom was from. Spoiler alert on the jump:
The classroom today was from Massachusetts, which Sapia’s class guessed correctly after a few minutes. I think my favorite part of the exchange was when the Massachusetts class (who begins the school year the Wednesday after Labor Day) asked when Springdale students kicked off their school year. When Springdale responded “August,” the entire Massachusetts class gasped — they couldn’t believe it.
After the activity, Sapia debriefed with the students, and a few of them offered reasons why they enjoyed the session:
“You get to learn about new states,” said one.
“Instead of looking in a big old giant book, you can learn stud about Massachusetts or any state. It’s funner than just reading a book,” said another — who was quickly told that “more fun” was the more appropriate way to describe the activity.
“We can remember doing this a lot more than we can remember a book, since this is fun,” said another.
“It’s fun and you get to learn about other states without having to read from a book,” said a fourth.
At this point, I wanted to pull myself out of the fly-on-the-wall role and chime in that books are good too, but Sapia beat me to it.
“Don’t forget it can be fun to read out of a book. Technology is fun, but reading out of a book is obviously important,” he told the students. And with that, they headed off to their literacy time, where the kids each cracked open a book of their own.
I hope you enjoy the video I posted above. As always, I apologize for the quality.