By Angela Howard
When students come to first grade, many don’t comprehend life outside of their neighborhood. They all know their school and some know the name of the city they live in, but comprehending a much bigger world is a challenge at first.
Mrs. Kendrick accepted the challenge of teaching about this bigger world to her students. She accepted an invitation to take part in a Mystery FaceTime with a school in West Virginia. A Mystery FaceTime is an activity where each class has to try to figure out where the other class lives by asking only yes or no questions about things on a map. In order to do this, students had to learn map skills. They had to learn about the city in which they live, then the state they live in, and finally, the country they live in. After learning these things, they learned map skills including directions (north, south, east, west), topography and landforms (mountains, deserts), bodies of water (major rivers and oceans), etc.
Students first had to learn about these items in relation to their own state so they could answer questions from the other school. Then they learned those items about the entire US in order to ask good yes or no questions to the other school. Each school was hoping to be the first school to figure out where the other school lived.
After spending several weeks learning their geography standards, the time came for the big event. There was a large computer on a cart set up in Mrs. Kendrick’s room and one at the other school. The teacher’s used FaceTime and projected it onto these large computers in order for all the students to be able to see each other. When the competition began, students asked questions such as:
- “Is your state east of the Mississippi River?”
- “Does your state have mountains and deserts?”
- “Is your state touching an ocean?”
- “Is your state touching Canada?”
Each time a question was asked, students looked on a large US map and marked an “x” on each state that didn’t apply which narrowed down the possible states and helped them choose which question to ask next. Westwind was the first to figure out where the other state was, but the school in West Virginia figured out where Westwind immediately afterward. Westwind students said it was a tie because Westwind was allowed to ask the first question.
When it was over, the schools took time to introduce themselves to the other school. Mrs. Kendrick plans to do many other Social Studies activities throughout the year with this class in West Virginia so the learning doesn’t stop here.