Recently I was fortunate enough to participate in a Mystery Location Call with Diana Potts' 4th Grade class in Lambertville, NJ. For me it was bittersweet due to the fact that I attended Lambertville Public School back in the 1980s. Anytime that you get a chance to help out your alma mater is simply tremendous in my eyes. What is a Mystery Location Call you might ask? Basically it is when a class connects with another class and/or person by way of Google Hangout, Skype, or Facetime. Once a connection is established virtually and students can actually see each other on the computer screen they begin to ask probing questions related to where they are located. Once their locations are determined the students have authentic conversations about their community and way of life. This could also be done on an individual basis where students use a program such as iChat to speak with another student in another part of the country or world.
I thoroughly enjoyed the entire experience and saw first hand how students came to the determination of where I was located. Questions like "Are you east or west of Arkansas?" and "Do you live on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean?" were asked by students and provided the class with important information. As students asked me questions, they would refer to their iPads that contained the Google Maps application. Diana did a great job of keeping the students on task and reminding them of key vocabulary words such as cardinal directions. Ultimately, after about 15 questions, students were able to determine my location in Chester, NJ. We then had a nice discussion and I was able to tell them about a few experiences from my time as a student @LPSLeopards.
So what were my takeaways from the experience? First and foremost I was able to take advantage of being a connected educator. I knew Diana from Twitter and attending various EdCamps. She remembered that I grew up in Lambertville and contacted me to see if I would be interested in participating in a Mystery Location Call. Secondly, we were able to problem solve a few technical issues we were having with our internet connection. We finally decided to conduct the session using our iPhones and the Facetime application. Lastly, I was able to experience the true power of an authentic learning experience that incorporated technology in a fun and innovative way. All in all it was a win-win for everyone and provided an experience that will never be forgotten. So much so that I actually included a few paragraphs about this particular experience in my upcoming book for Corwin Press. For years I have been intrigued by the power of Mystery Location Calls by my good friend Billy Krakower who has been doing it for quite sometime now. Now I know why educators from around the world do this on a daily basis. Simply put, it's amazing!