Practicing what I preach … Introducing Mystery Skype #ionapsict

Photo 10-11-2014 9 45 52 am

Mystery Skyping with Nepal

In July 2014, after many frustrating years of relief teaching, I finally found a school to call home. I know I have been a little distant from the wider project community for some time, but I have been taking time out to actually practice what I preach. For the past few years, I’ve helped and watched teachers around the world flatten their classroom walls, but I was unable to learn how to do it in my own classroom and school. Until now.

Last year, Mrs R (a Year 3 teacher), and I joined a small handful of teachers in Western Australia who Mystery Skype. Integrating our Skype sessions into Geography, we made some memorable connections with Hello Little World Skypers and Global Classroom teachers from Argentina, India, Nepal, and the United States. We also were able to connect with ‘Flat Addy’, a little girl in Iowa, USA, who had sent us a Flat Stanley earlier in the year.

Mystery Skype proved to be a fantastic introduction for our students, who learnt how to communicate and share with authentic global audiences. As the 2015 school year progresses, I am hoping to introduce videoconferencing and Mystery Skype into more classes, as we work to build our students’ awareness of the world beyond their classroom walls.


  • Students will use map skills to find the location of the mystery classroom
  • Students will use communication and critical thinking skills to ask questions to help them find the mystery location.
  • Classes communicate with other classrooms via Skype or Google+ Hangouts.
  • Students will learn to respect and appreciate the cultures and customs of others.
  • Students will be able to see the differences and similarities between themselves and others around the world.

This post was adapted from Meeting the World via Mystery Skype (#ionapsict)

Looking for World Read Aloud Day 2015 Connections! (#WRAD15)


Kathy Kaldenberg, based in the USA, is looking for Skype Read-Aloud partners for March 3 and 6, 2015. Please contact her via Skype (scsdmedia), Twitter (@scsdmedia), or email kkaldenberg AT

On March 4th, we will celebrate World Read Aloud Day with LitWorld. This is always such a special day for celebrating the power of literacy….and one of the best for our libraries, schools, and students too.

Over the past few years it has been so much fun coming together to read and collaborate together with other students, teacher librarians, teachers, schools, and communities.  And this year we are excited for even more of these special connections.

If you are interested in connecting with others on this day, please add your name, schedule, and ideas to this Google document:

Check out all the wonderful activity ideas and resources that LitWorld has included on their website here. The classroom kit is great!

New #globalclassroom project: The Art of the Fibonacci Numbers

The Art of the Fibonacci Numbers

This project is designed to explore the Fibonacci Number Sequence and how it relates to proportion, the human body, and art. To accomplish this, you will be reading, watching videos, taking measurements, and using photography.

Have fun and be creative! :)

How can we get involved?

  • Here, Arthur Benjamin gives a great introduction to the Fibonacci Numbers.
  • Read Golden Ratio in Logo Designs.
  • Watch the tutorial: Fibonacci Photography to learn about taking pictures using mathematical compositions
  • Download the app: Camera Awesome on your iPad or on your smartphone.
  • Take and post a picture to the Global Project Wikispace using the Fibonacci Spiral as a guide.
  • Describe your picture and location of the picture underneath the picture
    Remember to name your images/files so they don’t save over existing images on your wiki. This is easiest if you do it from a computer.
  • In the Questions and Comments Section: comment or create questions related to the photographs, be sure to add where you are from

Reflections on International Mindedness

Copyright Shutterstock. Used under license.

Copyright Shutterstock. Used under license.

A guest post courtesy of Toni Olivieri-Barton who blogs at

In the International Baccalaureate (IB) Organization, “international-minded” students are defined as demonstrating all of the following attributes: open-minded, risk-taker, reflective, principled, balanced, inquirer, knowledgeable, thinkers, communicators and caring. There are many ways to give our students enough time to practice these attributes. I have incorporated them into the library time and collaborating with teachers to allow students to show these attributes to others around the world

Global projects assist teachers and students in being able to demonstrate all those attributes, but especially open-minded, risk-taking, and reflective. In a global project, classrooms around the world meet virtually to discuss cultural similarities and differences. For students who may never get to travel outside of their neighborhood or school, this global experience is essential because they will hear ideas and opinions that they themselves have not thought about. Even understanding students in a different school in the United States can open up their minds allowing them to care and reflect on their life.

One example of this is Mystery Skype. Mystery Skype is a Skype videoconference where another school in the world to connect with my school. The teachers do not tell the students where the other school is from and the students ask each other Yes or No questions to determine where the school is located. While doing this the teachers and students talk about being good communicators and thinkers. Our students are not allowed to use slang or text talk so that they can be respective when they communicate. They are representing our school and need to think and act accordingly.  After the location is discovered, the two classrooms have a social exchange of what our classrooms, communities, and environments are like. We need to be knowledgeable about our own state and inquirers into what their state or country have to offer.

We had a few classes participate in the Global Read-Aloud. The teacher running this program simply picks books for every level K-12 and asks teachers to join her Edmodo group to find a connection with other teachers. Last year the students discussed in groups on Edmodo what they thought of the books and also video conferenced with other classrooms who read the same book. Our fifth graders were able to return to school in the evening to communicate with Kuala Lumpur students who had also read the book. The book this year was “Wonder” by Palaccio. The book talks about a student with deformities. Students discussed how a caring student would react with the main character. The students had an exchange about the book and then had time for a social exchange to understand each other’s culture.

On a larger scale, I am eager to have more classrooms participate in a global collaboration project, such as Flat Connections. There is one project for kindergarten through second graders that is called “Building Bridges to Tomorrow”. My 4th graders participate in one called “A Week in the Life”. Both of these projects are created and managed through Flat Connections, which is an organization who believes students from different schools, and countries can come together to collaborate with each other. During these projects, students learn to be open-minded and inquire to their fellow co-students from around the world. If students can see this task as simple and friendly, they will develop into adults who want to connect with others who are not similar to themselves. Flat Connections has projects for all grade levels in K-12.

During the last year, my students made amazing reflections. One class of 2nd graders all wanted to move to Iowa so that they can drive the tractors in the fields at age twelve. This farming community in Iowa opened our students’ eyes up to different experiences. Another group of students connected with a Catholic school in Illinois. When one of our religious students asked how often they studied religion, the Catholic students answered only on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday because on Wednesday they attended Mass. The student was surprised because they only study religion a few days a week. As a librarian, this connected learning is similar to learning from a primary source. The students are learning from each other by discussing their similarities and differences.

As a society we should learn from our past mistakes and make the world a peaceful place. We have a diverse earth where conflict arises when we don’t understand our differences. This past year, I had every classroom from second grade to fifth grade participate in at least one project with a classroom outside of our school. Some of these projects were only communication projects. This year my goal is to have all the students from second through fifth grade participate in a collaboration project.

As the IB model teaches, teachers should inspire students to act about the knowledge they gain during school hours. If that knowledge includes more international students or United States students who are different than them, our students will become more open-minded and reflective. Even at the primary grades, students question how the world works and take action on their knowledge and passions. The Flat Connections group uses the term “Glocalization”, let’s teach globally, but act locally.

Live Event: Take a Trip to the Deserts and Grasslands of Africa! (Feb 5, 2015)

Are you looking for new, exciting ways to connect your Grades 3-8 students with real world science, geography, and environmental issues beyond your classroom walls? Why rely on a textbook, when you can bring a real scientist into your classroom?

The Global Classroom Project is delighted to share an amazing upcoming live event, where The Nature Conservancy, PBS Learning Media, and field scientist Charles Oluchina will take your students on a live virtual field trip to Africa!

Event Description

Take your students on a virtual trip to Burkina Faso, where they will learn how one African farmer invented an ingenious method to help restore forestlands that had been lost to desertification. Head to Kenya to learn about the importance of grasslands, and how ecotourism has benefited both the people and Kenya’s majestic wildlife. Finally, you and your students will get a firsthand look at a PBS LearningMedia’s collection of videos, digital games and educational resources from the new PBS series EARTH A New Wild.

This event, focussing on the Deserts and Grasslands of Africa, marks the first of a new series of live events aimed at building students’ knowledge of, and emotional connection to environmental issues, which are at the heart of The Nature Conservancy’s mission.

Date and time:  Thursday, February 5, 2015, 12:00 noon Eastern Time (17:00 GMT). 

The event will be streamed on YouTube (40 minutes), and recorded for those classes which can’t participate live due to time differences.

Get Involved!

Interested teachers are strongly encouraged to register for this event via this online form.

Classes can participate in the event in three ways:

  1. Join the live Google Hangout On Air on The Nature Conservancy’s Google + channel
  2. Watch the live stream on YouTube here, or
  3. Watch the event recording via the Nature Works Everywhere YouTube channel

About Nature Works Everywhere

The Nature Conservancy and its 550 scientists created Nature Works Everywhere to help students learn the science behind how nature works, and how we can help keep it strong. Nature Works Everywhere gives teachers, students and families around the world everything they need to start exploring and understanding the natural world alongside Nature Conservancy scientists, including interactive games, and curriculum linked lesson plans that be customised for use in classrooms around the world.

Related Science and Geography Resources for teachers:

Growing #GlobalEdTed

2014-09-09 17.01.31

Small Beginnings

Last year we piloted the Traveling Teddy project with seven teachers that we already knew. Some of our fears going into the pilot were:

  • Participants wouldn’t be committed and not participate in key aspects of the project like the blogging or creating the QR code.
  • Not keeping to schedule. The schedule was very dependent upon all participating teachers who needed to understand that being late on mailing their bear off would affect how much time classes after them would have with the bear.
  • Our WORST fear was: Losing Teddy in the mail!!!

Having teachers we knew and trusted helped to alleviate our first two fears, and we had a backup bear just in case Teddy did get lost, his cousin Freddy could be Fedex-ed to the correct location to continue the journey! We really shouldn’t have been afraid, because not only was the project successful, but it went over and beyond what we ever imagined! Here is the final video that my kindergarten class made last year at the end of Teddy’s travels.

Year #2

In August of 2014 we opened signups for #GlobalEdTed to the world. This meant having a huge level of trust on my part because I was now putting Teddy in the hands of teachers I did not know. Would they all understand that blogging was at the core of the project? Would they remember to make a QR code for the next class? Would they all be fair and make sure their bear was mailed off on time? Would they take the time to communicate with each other to make it a truly global experience? All these questions obviously made me extremely nervous, but there was nothing to do but to trust that it would all fall into place.

I was overwhelmed by the number of teachers that signed up. From seven classes we jumped to 50 classes in 23 countries! I quickly realized that the two bears I originally planned on having for the second year of our project (Teddy and Freddy) were not going to be enough. So, the bear family grew and twin girls Bessie and Jessie joined the project!

I am sad that I had to close signups for interested parties in particular countries, but in order to make it truly international, we could not accept too many classes within the same country. I have not found a way to allow more people to be involved without having to add more bears. As it is, four bears has been a quite a bit of work to keep up with so I don’t think I can add more next year.

Working Out Logistics

You can imagine that figuring out the logistics at the beginning of this project was quite a task! I printed out the signups, cut them up then color coded each one by placing a dot on each according to continent they were in. Then I looked at the age groups that were involved, we had a range from pre-k to third grade. Slowly I worked out a balance of:

  • Age groups: I tried to keep PreK and K together and second and third together. Then first grade got mixed up between these two groups depending on their location.
  • Locations: I tried my best not to repeat countries within the same bear’s itinerary but it was difficult because of the large number of signups from particular countries.
  • Distance: I had to work out a way so that most classes weren’t sending their bear too far. However, some just had to mail their bear further than others, it was inevitable. Most itineraries began around Asia Pacific, moved through India or the Middle East to North America then back toward Asia through Europe.

The organization was not perfect, but I did the best I could! 2014-08-31 10.05.02

I digitalized this onto a GDoc and shared the itineraries with the participants. This is where all participants can track their bear and also find information about other participants if they would like to contact them through Twitter or Skype.


The schedule allowed each class to have a bear visit for approximately a week and a half. Some schools signed up then later informed us that more than one group would be involved, so we tried to allow a little more time for them. We then approximated around one week for travel time between destinations. This meant that if we were lucky, we could fit in two schools per month. Of course, holidays cause a few delays here and there so it was important that the bears were not scheduled beyond May as most schools were finishing in early to mid June. This left some flexibility for delays, but not much.

Reflections So far…

I am amazed at the communication that is happening between classes. Not only have there been Skype calls and tweets but classes have left comments for each other. I’ve even seen comments happening between classes within the same school! Little did I know that the project would also provide a platform for teachers to share tips and tools! Take a look at this comment thread from the Teddy Bears’ blog:


The posts have been adorable and I have thoroughly enjoyed seeing photos and watching videos that classes have made to put on the blog!

Things that I would probably change for next year are:

1. Create a checklist for teachers to read through before signing up to ensure that they are able and willing to fully participate.

I found that there were many teachers who signed up without fully understanding what would be expected of them as a participant of the project, such as blogging. After finding out they dropped out. this made the initial organization and logistics quite confusing!

2. Make sure that each class teacher within the same school signs up separately and have no more than two or three signups per school. 

We had some schools sign up once and then later inform us that more than one group of students would be participating. On the other hand, we also had schools who signed up individually by class. I found it was easier to organize itineraries if teachers signed up separately rather than together. However, if there were too many classes from one school then it would create less room for bears to travel elsewhere. Therefore, I think limiting it to around 2 or 3 signups per school could work well. (One sign up = approximately 1.5 weeks.)

3. Emphasize the importance of posting the bears on time because every day counts! 

I think that this year I did not explain well enough that I had scheduled classes in such a way that we only had a small window for delays. Once we factor in holidays, postage delays, and the fact that some schools finish at the end of May, further delays could mean some classes at the end of an itinerary no longer have time in the school year to participate. We have some slight delays currently but I think we can still get back on schedule. Worst case scenario, I may have to shift some people around to another bear’s itinerary if delays continue.

Traveling Teddies 2015-16!

If you are interested in joining in, signups will open up again in August of 2015. Be sure to watch #GlobalEdTed for tweets and check back at our site, :)