This year, in honor of Read Across America Day, I got the crazy idea to literally "read across America!" Since my students have already become adept at Mystery Skyping, I had the notion that we could share ideas about books with at least one classroom in each of the four time zones using Skype or Google Hangouts. While that idea eventually fell through, we did make contact with one other classroom, and we learned about a great new app called Appear.in!
Appear.in is a free app that allows users to set up "chat rooms" where up to 8 devices can connect at a time. In a 1:1 classroom, this allows for more individualized conversations while eliminating the need for having multiple accounts on something like Skype. On desktops, Appear.in also has a Chrome extension that allows for screen sharing as well!
Our Read Across America contact was Mrs. Nording's 5th grade class in Wisconsin, who introduced us to Appear.in. We were able to divide our classes into small groups that made for more intimate chats. Our students chatted for over 40 minutes, first talking about books, and then moving on to other topics!
It's always great to find a new classroom to connect with as well as a new way to communicate! Appear.in has become another useful classroom tool...I've used it to connect to students who were out sick, and to maintain communication from our classroom to the computer lab with a student who was working on an independent project.
I'm curious to hear if other teachers have used Appear.in...it appears to be a great way for multiple classrooms to interact simultaneously.
Here's Jesse's blog post on our Mystery Skype from February 8! By my count, it's the 11th, but if you count other Skype activities, it's the 13th!
Mystery Skype XIII
The Colonial Mystery Skype
Hey! Welcome to Mystery Skype XIII! The Colonial Mystery Skype. We are now (unlike other mystery skypes) only asking questions on their colonial history. In my opinion, I like the other kind of mystery skype. Anyway, we already know they are in one of the original 13 states in the United States. Everyone is getting ready to do the real skype! Mr. Ullman just turned on the Apple TV on. The skype is about to start. We already have a lot of information on our colonial state. I don’t want to say what our state is right away. Now the skype is starting. For real. The skype just timed out. They’re using an outdated version of skype. We can hear them but we can’t see them. We now can see them. Yay!!!!!!! We are asking first. “Are you in the middle colonies?” “No.” They are not. “Did you grow wheat?” They ask “yes” We ask “ Are you in the Southern Colonies?” “ No” They ask ”Are you in the Southern Colonies?” “ No” “Were you a safe place for catholics in the colonial times?” “Maybe not.” “Did you have a big population in your colony?” The research team is working on it. We don’t know yet. They are clarifying their question. The research team is still working on it. “We don’t think so” is our answer. We ask: “Did your colony have religious freedom?” “No” They ask: “ Are you in the middle colonies?” “Yes” The research team is working on a question. Finally, we ask: “Are you in Massachusetts. I mean were you in the Massachusetts bay colony?” “Yes!!” They are guessing if we were in Delaware colony. No. “Is your colony New York colony?” “No” “Was your town founded in colonial times?” “Yes”. They ask: “Is your colony New Jersey? ¨ ¨Yes¨ We ask: ¨Are you in Boston¨ ¨No¨ ¨Are you in Trenton? ¨ ¨No¨. We ask: ¨Was your town founded before 1650? ¨ ¨Yes¨. ¨Do you live in a city? ¨ ¨No¨. We think theyŕe in Plymouth. ¨Was your town founded in 1630? ¨ ¨No¨. Plymouth was founded in 1620. ¨Was your town founded in colonial times? ¨ ¨Yes¨. ¨Were you founded after 1630?” ¨Yes¨. ¨Is your town near Atlantic City? ¨ ¨No¨ . ¨Are you in Concord? ¨ ¨No¨. The research team is confused? ¨Are you near NYC? ¨ Define near¨. ¨No¨. We are not near NYC. ¨Are you in Hingham?¨ We are getting clues. I need a break. I´m back! They still haven't answered your question. They are famous for clams and shellfish. We are thinking of a clue. We had a famous revolutionary battle. Getting warmer. Maybe clues wasn't a great idea. We're closing in on their town. We think they're in Dedham. They aren´t. Are we near Fort Nassau? Are we? Maybe yes, but we have to find out. We think they're in Essex. Do they know where we are? No they don´t. Are they in Essex? They are not in Essex. They’re in Essex county.Is your town. Are you in Englishtown? No way!!! The battle of Monmouth happened in Englishtown. We are still trying to guess their town. Are you in Princeton? Yes!!!!!!!!!! Where are they? I really don't know. They have the largest number of first Puritan Homes in America. Are you in Ipswich? Yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Their town was founded in 1634 they think. Ed Emberley lives in their town. Who is Ed Emberley? We found out that he’s an illustrator for children’s books. We told them that Our class has 15 kids and our school has about 300 kids Pre-K through 5. They are a public school, like us. They have kids K-5. They are all Patriots fans, so we told them congrats on the Super Bowl. They are 4th graders at Winthrop Elementary School.
Here are photos of this Mystery Skype, taken by Isaiah and Julia
Here is a video playlist of our Mystery Skype team in action, shot by Isaiah and Julia!
5th grade teacher in Princeton, NJ. Passionate about education, technology, and the New York Giants!