We started by looking at Paul Solarz' class site to see how he conducts his Skype sessions with his 5th graders. I have to say this was probably the most useful part as neither of us had ever done one with our class before.
My class of students chose their jobs, like suggested on the website, and took ownership of their tasks throughout the mystery Skype. We had three questioners, two sharers, and one greeter. In addition to these jobs, one student was in charge of collecting all the questions asked by us and the other class's answers to those questions in a spreadsheet on her SkyDrive. We also had two talented ladies taking pictures and videoing the entire process. Here are a few photos for your viewing pleasure:
During our mystery Skype, each class took turns asking and answering questions. Both classes did a nice job of starting with broad questions and moving towards more narrow questions. Although, there were a few times I wanted to jump in and say, "Hey, that's too narrow! Ask something a little broader." But I was good and stayed quiet.
It was fun to walk around and observe their collaboration throughout the task. I have two very quiet individuals in my class and even these students were actively engaging in the process. I also noticed a little bit of a competitive streak coming out in some of the gentleman in my class. For instance, after one of their questions was answered with a yes from the other school my entire class cheered. They were proud and happy to know they were getting closer to knowing the location of these mystery students.
Although I think this went exceptionally well, there are a few things I'd pay closer attention to. First, I'd make sure to teach my students how to properly reply back to the other school if they were unable to hear them. I heard a lot of "whats" instead of "can you please repeat your question?" Secondly, we'd do a practice questioning session so they had a good idea of what questions give them the most information. Finally, I'd put a time limit on how long they took to come up with their questions. My students definitely liked to have an in-depth discussion about what they were going to ask, which is great, but not when you only have 42 minutes to complete the conference. All in all, I feel it went well and my students left my room wanting to do it again.
I'm also looking forward to getting my other classes connected to different schools and try this again.
So what do we have in store next? A virtual debate on asteroids with @jhenze and @MadDawgMisty's classes. Getting excited to see the learning that will come from this!