Allow me to introduce you to a teacher at Carthage Elementary School who has been one of my favorite colleagues to work with this school year. Ashley Luersman teaches second grade at CES and she is one of those teachers who you would want your child to have. It is hard to believe this is only her second year in the classroom since graduating from Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan. She is passionate about her profession, she truly loves what she does and she believes in the benefits of integrating technology in her classroom.
One particular digitally-infused activity that I thought was most impactful for her students was a social studies lesson where she lead her classroom in a Mystery Skype (If you are not familiar with what a Mystery Skype is, here's a brief overview: two predetermined classrooms connect via Skype and the students pose questions to each other to determine their counterpart's secret location).
I know what you're thinking. How can something that a second grade teacher uses in her classroom apply to what I'm doing with my students? Well, I'm way ahead of you. When I sat down with Ms. Luersman to gather more information about her Mystery Skype experience I was overwhelmed with the positive feedback she gave me and how many benefits there were from participating in the inquiry based, cross-country conversation. "The learning was relevant to my students which made it much more engaging. We had covered the curriculum in class prior to the activity, but the Mystery Skype gave the students a hands-on opportunity to make the information more meaningful. Choice was a big part of this assignment. The students decided not only what questions they would ask the other class, but we provided the students with a choice of what they were going to be responsible for during the activity. Whether it was being a researcher, a google earth expert, runner to communicate with other teams, or the person who communicates with the other class among other jobs. This also gave my students a chance to collaborate and they had a tremendous role in the learning process, I was just the facilitator. This was a great experience for my students. They knew they were learning, but they loved it! I will definitely be doing more Mystery Skypes next year." - Ms. Luersman