Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Reading Class Conundrum

Mystery Character Skypes & Hangouts


This summer I had the opportunity to show a group of teachers the power of Mystery Skypes and connecting my social studies classroom with other classrooms around the world. With the help of the amazing educator and person, Livingstone Kegode, a master teacher from Kenya, we were able to show a group of teachers how powerful connections are. Kegode was amazing and I recommend any teacher interested in trying a mystery skype to connect with his class. Our classes connected last school year for a mystery Skype session and it was pretty awesome seeing my students and parents arrive over an hour before the school day started to talk and learn from his class.

 However, after the session we conducted with teachers, I was left wondering how I'd be able to continue to promote these connections in a reading classroom. The idea of connecting with another class and trying to figure out literary characters hit me.  I'd been rolling this idea around for a few weeks and looking for resources, but have found no one who has done this (I'm sure you're out there somewhere- connect with me!).

Table of Contents (so far):

I put out a few tweets and received a ton of interest. I've been working with two teachers amazing teachers, Mary Ellen Davies and Jaime Hoffmeister, from Hillsborough Middle School in New Jersey. We're planning on doing our first mystery character session on November 2 at 10:50 AM est. Below is what we've come up with so far. Let me know what you think! I'm always looking for great ideas and connections that want to give this a try!

Mystery Character Skypes and Hangouts are based on the popular model of Mystery Skypes used in social studies classrooms around the world. Mystery Character Skypes and Hangouts are bringing these connections to the Reading and Literature classrooms around the world. They are used to increase a classroom’s knowledge of literary characters that may appear in SATs by trying to figure out the other classroom’s famous literary character - in as few questions as possible!


  1. School Introductions - introduce your school and class
  2. Rock/Paper/Scissors to see which school will ask first
  3. The game starts with schools alternating asking yes/no questions*.
    1. You may not guess a character until at least 5 questions have been asked
    2. After 10 questions, schools may ask for a clue
    3. Consider assigning roles/jobs to kids
  4. The class that figures out the opposing character first, wins.
    1. Classes could have a back-up (second) character if the first school guesses quickly
  5. At the conclusion of the skype - class shares drawings with each other *make sure you have mailing address
  6. If time permits - general questions about each other’s schools

*Technology note: Teachers should decide what/how technology will be used to support
ie. Todays Meet as a back channel, Google Docs to keep track of clues, etc.

At the conclusion of each session, each class would have a student draw their version of the character and send it to each other’s school. Classes may also choose to send a class picture and any other fun items from their school!

The goal would be to collect as many literary characters as possible to hang on your classroom walls!.