HistoryQuest5 Videoconference: Wikispaces Archive

Since Wikispaces is closing down, I’m moving my collaborative videoconference projects over to my blog for archiving. Great project formats can still be used and adapted!

A 5th Grade US History Project: Beginnings to 1800

This project is designed for 5th grade students studying US History. Through video conference technology, students are able to meet other students while learning about United States history.

Prior to the video conference each classroom will create a presentation with clues about a mystery person, event, invention, issue/problem or section from a document. The other classrooms, using maps, the Internet, textbooks, and other resources, will try to discover the history mystery presented by each participating classroom.

Flyer:  HistoryQuest5Flyer

Note Taking Form: HistoryQuest5NoteForm

Cost: Free for Berrien RESA’s schools. $35 for everyone else.

Videoconference Agenda

  • 5 min. Introductions and Videoconference Directions (Janine Lim will moderate)
  • 30 min. Classroom Presentations (5 min. each for 5-6 presentations)
  • 20 min. The Quest (Classrooms divide into 5 teams to pin-point the mystery clues presented by the other 5 classrooms. During this time each team will come up with one yes/no question to ask each of the other classrooms.)
  • 10 min. Question and Answers: Be prepared and efficient! This section will be tightly moderated. (i.e. Classroom 1 answers all questions; classroom 2 answers all questions; etc.)
  • 5 min. Classroom teams ‘reevaluate’ their answers.
  • 5 min. Each classroom presents their guesses to the clues.
  • 5 min. Correct mystery answers revealed by each classroom.
  • Congratulations, goodbye cheers, and sign-off.

Credit: This project is modeled after the Where in the USA project by Learning Space (1996-2004).

How To

This VC Poster Handout for students gives simple tips for clear presentations via posters.

PowerPoint Tips

  • Use a large font.
  • Don’t put too much text on the page.
  • Don’t use red for background or text.
  • Have a good contrast between text and background.
  • Blue backgrounds with white or yellow text work best.

Involve All Your Students
During a videoconference, it’s wise to include as many students as possible. Here is a suggested list of jobs to assign students.

  1. Art crew-design backdrop and paint.
  2. Directors-(usually one girl and one boy).
  3. Stage hands-move props.
  4. Lighting and sound crew-turn on and off lights/adjust microphone.
  5. Narrators-(usually good readers and who are not shy to speak in front of the camera).
  6. Actors
  7. Costume and make-up-help put together costumes and help with make-up.
  8. Writers-help write and edit script-help with timing and what scenes can be deleted or added.
  9. Cue card holders-hold up cards with lines on them for anyone who might get stuck-hold up scene or act cards during a transition.
  10. Question and Answer team-These will be the ones who answer and ask questions to the other class at the end of the conference.
  11. Judges-These students watch the performance by both schools and write down any changes that might improve the conference for the next time-we must always learn from our mistakes.
  12. Take Down crew-cleans up after conference.

This list was presented by Kim Pearce, Gatesville Intermediate School, Language Arts 6th grade teacher, at the 123 Jazzing Up Your Curriculum Workshop Summer 2006. Used by permission.


Preparation Resources

Preparing Your Classroom Presentation:

  1. Choose one mystery person, event, invention, issue/problem or section from a document to present. Four history mysteries total will be presented. Do NOT choose a history mystery that students should know by memory if they have studied the Beginnings to 1800 time period. The should not be able to guess while listening to the presentation.
  2. Email your mystery right away to Janine Lim so she can check for duplicates.
  3. In the presentation, give the required clues in your presentation. Do NOT give dates, as these are too easy to Google and the correct answer. If you really want to give a date, give it in the form of a math problem or other creative two part clue instead of just the date to copy down.
  4. Prepare a visual to reveal the answer to your presentation.
  5. Make sure all students have paper to take notes on all the presentations. This way if one team figures out a mystery quickly they can help another team.

Tips for shorter preparation time:

  • Have all your sections do the same city/country
  • Use the same visuals (posters/PowerPoint) for all your sections
  • Teacher tip: “My 8th graders of mixed abilities, took about 50 minutes to create 2 different History Quests. I broke students into 2 teams, they took a “divide and conquer” approach. One student manned the Powerpoint station, while the other researchers discussed and developed the clues in a business meeting format.” -Monica M. Kwiatkowski,Cuba-Rushford Middle/High School, Cuba, NY

Fast Transitions

  • Know the schedule and have your students up at the mic ready to go.
  • When you’re about to present, have some kids taking notes and the others getting ready to go.

Helpful Resources from Other Projects

Required Clues

HistoryQuest5: Questions to Answer

Be sure to keep the presentation to 5 minutes or less.

Developing your Clues:
When developing your clues try to make sure each one is challenging. The other classes should not be able to determine your history mystery just from hearing one or two clues and not doing any research. For example, if you were presenting a clue for George Washington, you would never want to come out and say “he was the first president of the United States.” Also, you would not want to give a clue that the other classes can Google and find in the first few search result descriptions.
Time Period: For HistoryQuest5, your history mystery MUST be from the Beginnings to 1800 time period. See the Standards to gain a better picture of what is included.

History Clues:
Give at least 5 clues in your presentation, using these as suggestions of what information to give.

Somewhere in your presentation, give the following required clue in a creative interesting manner.
1. Which type of history mystery is it? (person, event, invention, issue/problem or section from a document)

1. What main events in history surrounded this person?
2. Why is he or she familiar to us?
3. Why do, or should we, study about him or her?

1. What is the setting of the event? (North, South, East, or West)
2. What were some causes of the event?
3. Who were some major characters involved in the event?
4. What were some results/outcomes of the event?

1. Give a range of dates for the invention.
2. Give a clue about the immediate or long term impact this invention had on the nation.
3. Give a clue about obstacles or controversy surrounding the invention.
4. Give a clue about background information leading up to the invention. (a need, accidental discovery, etc.)

Issue or Problem

1. What caused this to be an issue or problem?
2. Who or what created or contributed to this issue or problem?
3. What were some actions taken to solve this issue or problem?
4. Give a clue about major characters involved in this issue or problem.
5. Give a clue about this issue or problem’s immediate or long term impact on the nation.

Section from Document

1. Give a clue about the creators of the document.
2. Give a clue about the surrounding events inspiring this section of the document.
3. Give a clue about the immediate or long term impact this section of the document had or has on the nation.


Note: I am not maintaining these links. They are here for reference and history only.

Research Web Links (organized by Michigan Curriculum Framework)
General U.S. History Sites:

Unit 1: Our Government

Unit 2: The First Americans

Unit 3: European Settlement

Unit 4: Colonial Life

Unit 5 & 6: Road to Revolution, The American Revolution

Unit 7: Establishing a National Government

Presentation Preparation Links


Social Studies 5th Grade Level Content Expectations (Michigan)

U1.1 American Indian Life in the Americas
Describe the life of peoples living in North America before European exploration.
5 – U1.1.1 Use maps to locate peoples in the desert Southwest, the Pacific Northwest, the nomadic nations of the Great Plains, and the woodland peoples east of the Mississippi River (Eastern Woodland). (National Geography Standard 1, p. 144)
5 – U1.1.2 Compare how American Indians in the desert Southwest and the Pacific Northwest adapted to or modified the environment. (National Geography Standard 14, p. 171)
5 – U1.1.3 Describe Eastern Woodland American Indian life with respect to governmental and family structures, trade, and views on property ownership and land use. (National Geography Standard 11, p. 164, C, E)

U1.2 European Exploration
Identify the causes and consequences of European exploration and colonization.
5 – U1.2.1 Explain the technological (e.g., invention of the astrolabe and improved maps), and political developments, (e.g., rise of nation-states), that made sea exploration possible. (National Geography Standard 1, p. 144, C)
5 – U1.2.2 Use case studies of individual explorers and stories of life in Europe to compare the goals, obstacles, motivations, and consequences for European exploration and colonization of the Americas (e.g., economic, political, cultural, and religious). (National Geography Standard 13, p. 169, C, E)

U2 USHG ERA 2 – Colonization and Setlement (1585-1763)
U2.1 European Struggle for Control of North America
Compare the regional settlement patterns and describe significant developments in Southern, New England, and
the mid-Atlantic colonies.
5 – U2.1.1 Describe significant developments in the Southern colonies, including
• patterns of settlement and control including the impact of geography (landforms and climate) on settlement (National Geography Standard 12, p. 167)
• establishment of Jamestown (National Geography Standard 4, p. 150)
• development of one-crop economies (plantation land use and growing season for rice in Carolinas and tobacco in Virginia) (National Geography Standard 11, p. 164)
• relationships with American Indians (e.g., Powhatan) (National Geography Standard 10, p. 162)
• development of colonial representative assemblies (House of Burgesses) (National Geography Standard 5, p. 152)
• development of slavery
5 – U2.1.2 Describe significant developments in the New England colonies, including
• patterns of settlement and control including the impact of geography (landforms and climate) on settlement (National Geography Standard 12, p. 167)
• relations with American Indians (e.g., Pequot/King Phillip’s War) (National Geography Standard 10, p. 162)
• growth of agricultural (small farms) and non-agricultural (shipping, manufacturing) economies (National Geography Standard 15, p. 173)
• the development of government including establishment of town meetings, development of colonial legislatures and growth of royal government (National Geography Standard 13, p. 169)
• religious tensions in Massachusetts that led to the establishment of other colonies in New England (National Geography Standard 13, p. 169 C, E)
5 – U2.1.3 Describe significant developments in the Middle Colonies, including
• patterns of settlement and control including the impact of geography (landforms and climate) on settlement (National Geography Standard 12, p. 167)
• the growth of Middle Colonies economies (e.g., breadbasket) (National Geography Standard 7, p. 156)
• The Dutch settlements in New Netherlands, Quaker settlement in Pennsylvania, and
subsequent English takeover of the Middle Colonies
• immigration patterns leading to ethnic diversity in the Middle Colonies
(National Geography Standard 10, p. 162, C, E)
5 – U2.1.4 Compare the regional settlement patterns of the Southern colonies, New England, and the
Middle Colonies. (National Geography Standard 12, p. 167)
U2.2 European Slave Trade and Slavery in Colonial America
Analyze the development of the slave system in the Americas and its impact upon the life of Africans.
5 – U2.2.1 Describe Triangular Trade including
• the trade routes
• the people and goods that were traded
• the Middle Passage
• its impact on life in Africa (National Geography Standards 9, and 11; pp. 160 and 164 E)
5 – U2.2.2 Describe the life of enslaved Africans and free Africans in the American colonies.
(National Geography Standard 5, p. 152)
5 – U2.2.3 Describe how Africans living in North America drew upon their African past (e.g., sense of family, role of oral tradition) and adapted elements of new cultures to develop a distinct African-American culture. (National Geography Standard 10, p. 162)

U2.3 Life in Colonial America
Distinguish among and explain the reasons for regional differences in colonial America.
5 – U2.3.1 Locate the New England, Middle, and Southern colonies on a map. (National Geography Standard 3 p. 148)
5 – U2.3.2 Describe the daily life of people living in the New England, Middle, and Southern colonies. (National Geography Standards 14 and 15; pp. 171 and 173)
5 – U2.3.3 Describe colonial life in America from the perspectives of at least three different groups of people (e.g., wealthy landowners, farmers, merchants, indentured servants, laborers and the poor, women, enslaved people, free Africans, and American Indians). (National Geography Standard 6, p. 154)
5 – U2.3.4 Describe the development of the emerging labor force in the colonies (e.g., cash crop farming, slavery, indentured servants). (E)
5 – U2.3.5 Make generalizations about the reasons for regional differences in colonial America. (National Geography Standard 6, p. 154)

U3 USHG ERA 3 Revolution and the New Nation (1754 – 1800)
U3.1 Causes of the American Revolution

Identify the major political, economic, and ideological reasons for the American Revolution.
5 – U3.1.1 Describe the role of the French and Indian War, how British policy toward the colonies in America changed from 1763 to 1775, and colonial dissatisfaction with the new policy.
(National Geography Standard 13 p. 169 C, E)
5 – U3.1.2 Describe the causes and effects of events such as the Stamp Act, Boston Tea Party, the Intolerable Acts, and the Boston Massacre.
5 – U3.1.3 Using an event from the Revolutionary era (e.g., Boston Tea Party, quartering of soldiers, writs of assistance, closing of colonial legislatures), explain how British and colonial views on authority and the use of power without authority differed (views on representative government).
5 – U3.1.4 Describe the role of the First and Second Continental Congress in unifying the colonies (addressing the Intolerable Acts, declaring independence, drafting the Articles of Confederation). (C)
5 – U3.1.5 Use the Declaration of Independence to explain why the colonists wanted to separate from Great Britain and why they believed they had the right to do so. (C)
5 – U3.1.6 Identify the role that key individuals played in leading the colonists to revolution, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Patrick Henry, Samuel Adams, John Adams, and Thomas Paine.
5 – U3.1.7 Describe how colonial experiences with self-government (e.g., Mayflower Compact, House of Burgesses and town meetings) and ideas about government (e.g., purposes of government such as protecting individual rights and promoting the common good, natural rights, limited government, representative government) influenced the decision to declare independence. (C)
5 – U3.1.8 Identify a problem confronting people in the colonies, identify alternative choices for addressing the problem with possible consequences, and describe the course of action taken.

U3.2 The American Revolution and Its Consequences
Explain the multi-faceted nature of the American Revolution and its consequences.
5 – U3.2.1 Describe the advantages and disadvantages of each side during the American Revolution with respect to military leadership, geography, types of resources, and incentives. (National Geography Standard 4, p. 150, E)
5 – U3.2.2 Describe the importance of Valley Forge, Battle of Saratoga, and Battle of Yorktown in the American Revolution.
5 – U3.2.3 Compare the role of women, African Americans, American Indians, and France in helping shape the outcome of the war.
5 – U3.2.4 Describe the significance of the Treaty of Paris (establishment of the United States and its boundaries). (National Geography Standard 13, p. 169, C)

U3.3 Creating New Government(s) and a New Constitution
Explain some of the challenges faced by the new nation under the Articles of Confederation, and analyze the
development of the Constitution as a new plan for governing.
5 – U3.3.1 Describe the powers of the national government and state governments under the Articles of Confederation. (C)
5 – U3.3.2 Give examples of problems the country faced under the Articles of Confederation (e.g., lack of national army, competing currencies, reliance on state governments for money). (National Geography Standard 13, p. 169, C)
5 – U3.3.3 Explain why the Constitutional Convention was convened and why the Constitution was written.(C)
5 – U3.3.4 Describe the issues over representation and slavery the Framers faced at the ConstitutionalConvention and how they were addressed in the Constitution (Great Compromise, Three-Fifths Compromise). (National Geography Standard 9, p. 160, C)
5 – U3.3.5 Give reasons why the Framers wanted to limit the power of government (e.g., fear of a strong executive, representative government, importance of individual rights). (C)
5 – U3.3.6 Describe the principle of federalism and how it is expressed through the sharing and distribution of power as stated in the Constitution (e.g., enumerated and reserved powers). (C)
5 – U3.3.7 Describe the concern that some people had about individual rights and why the inclusion of a Bill of Rights was needed for ratification. (C)
5 – U3.3.8 Describe the rights found in the First, Second, Third, and Fourth Amendments to the United States Constitution.

Facilitator Page: Confirmation and Reminder Emails

Confirmation Letter


This confirmation is for the following session:
##EVENTLOCALTIME## (your time)

Please read below for technical and teacher information.

Technical Contacts (##EQUIPMENTCONTACT##):

According to our records, you will be participating with this equipment:

If this is incorrect, please let me know.

Test Call

The test call window for this event is on [date and time]
Your dial in number for the event and test call is:
. If you cannot dial this, we can probably call you or you can call just the IP. Please discuss further by emailing janine.lim@berrienresa.org.

If you have problems during the connection or test call, please call me

Assist Your Teacher

If possible, please help your teacher understand the distance learning room setup and the options available for presentation (document camera, computer hook up, mic locations, etc.). Find out if they need/want computer access during the research portion of the event. Note that it is highly unlikely that People Plus Content / H.239 / DuoVideo will work for this conference.

Connection Day

The connection will be open for you to dial in 15 minutes before the start of the program. Please dial in as soon as possible. We aim to have
every site connected by 10 minutes before the start of the program.

Teacher Information (##PARTICIPANTNAME##):

CRITICAL: If you haven’t already done so, please email me with the history mystery your class will present. One way to do this is to have students
vote for top choices and submit the top three to me without telling the students the top votes. Then after checking with me, give them the
selected mystery.

Detailed information about this project can be found at:
Note especially the questions your students should answer in their presentation.

The teacher preparation materials can be found at:

Video Taped Presentations

Please do NOT prepare a taped presentation. Taped presentations are very difficult to understand when sent over compressed video. Please present LIVE!

Video Releases

The event may be recorded by Berrien RESA for improvement of the project, as well as illustrations to post on the web for next year’s project. In addition, many schools tape the program they participate in. Because of this, please make sure the students who appear on camera have permission from their parents/guardian. (Some schools have a video/photograph release form built into their registration process. Here’s a Word file sample you can use.
Please leave the credit at the bottom of the form.)

If you have any questions, you may call me or email me. Thank you.


HistoryQuest5 Presentation and Test Call Reminders

HistoryQuest5 Teachers and Contacts:
A few reminders and items I want to emphasize as you’re preparing your presentations!

Test Calls
The test call windows are this week: [date & times here]
The IP is 2. If you can’t do the extension, try just the IP or we can plan for Berrien RESA to call you.
I’ll be taking only 3 sites at a time for testing, so if you get a busy signal, try again in a few minutes.
IMPORTANT: If you plan to present with the computer, please be ready to test the computer connection.
If you have trouble during the test or the program, call ####.

If you haven’t yet sent me the mystery you are presenting, please do so as soon as possible. One way to choose is to have students vote for top choices & submit the top three to me without telling the students the top votes. Then after checking with me, give them the selected mystery. We do this to make sure there are no duplicate presentations.

Make It Hard Enough!
We want to make sure the students really challenge each other. Make sure that you can’t just type a clue in Google and get the answer. Some classes get really creative in writing clues that have to be solved before you can find the answer. For example: http://vcoutonalim.org/2007/04/20/math-problem-clues-for-mysteryquest-usa/
Lately in these programs we’ve had much more a challenge getting hard enough clues. So challenge each other!

Two part clues work better, where you have to solve one part to know the full clue to find the answer (i.e. he won a medal at the battle of what is now Jersey City). Also do not give full dates for events. It should take the other class at least 10 minutes to solve the history mystery.

Clearly Present Clues
Remember that the goal of your presentation is to clearly communicate the clues to the other classes, not to confuse them so they can’t guess. Here are some ways we highly recommend:

*Avoid taped presentations, as the quality of the tape gets degraded when sent over videoconferencing. Plus students will be better prepared to answer questions if their presentation is fresh in their mind.

*Prepare visuals to reinforce proper names and figures that are important to locating your mystery. Visuals for clues can be a “life saver” if we have technical difficulties or audio problems. Use this worksheet to assist your students in making clear posters or PPT slides:

*Have students practice speaking slowly, loudly, and clearly! Practice those communication skills!

*Have students read clues off notecards instead of paper so that we don’t have the noise of paper rustling.

Double Check your Clues
Check to make sure you are presenting all the required clues and the correct number from each section:

Double check your visuals and make sure what the other class should write down is the LARGEST.

Revealing the Answer
Please prepare a visual for revealing the mystery you presented.

I know it can be crazy getting prepared and ready for this event, but relax! Enjoy the process. It should be fun for everyone involved and a great learning experience too!

As always, you can email me or call if you have any questions or want to discuss your presentation or the event.


HistoryQuest5 Countdown (sent Friday before event)

Subject: HistoryQuest5 [war] [date & time]
Greetings HistoryQuest5 Teachers & Contacts!

Just a few more days til our HistoryQuest5 event! In anticipation of that, here are a few notes for:
[date]: [start & end time in all represented time zones]

Number of Groups
We have [xxx] classes participating, so you should divide your
students into [xxx] groups for researching the other presentations.

Please connect at least 15 minutes early so we can start on time.
IP: [connection info here]
If you have trouble, call me

Order of Presentations
Classes are assigned a number by when they sign up. The assigned
order is:
Classroom 1 Teacher:
Classroom 2 Teacher:
Classroom 3 Teacher:
Classroom 4 Teacher:
Classroom 5 Teacher:
Classroom 6 Teacher:

Things to Bring
*All materials needed for your presentation.
*Research notes from the presentation in case another school has specific questions about your country or city.
*Any print materials for students to use in their research (books, maps, globes, etc.).
*If desired, arrange for the use of computers/Internet connection during the research portion of the event.
*Blank sheets for note taking.

Note Taking
Plan to have all students take notes on all presentations. This will help keep them involved, give them practice taking notes, and groups could help each other during in the research process if needed.

If you are using computers for this event, please do the following:
1. Do not allow students to use them during the note-taking. They should be practicing taking notes and being a good listening audience. Remember it’s possible you are the school the presenting school is looking at when they present. So be an attentive audience!

2. During the research portion, only use computers as a last resort. This event is about map skills, group skills, research skills. Some clues could give the answer quickly in Google and we’d rather have students really work to use maps etc. to discover the answer.

I’m excited about this wonderful learning opportunity for our students and look forward to a great event!


Post Project / Evaluation Reminder

Thank you for participating in HistoryQuest this week. Please take a moment to complete the evaluation so that we can continue to improve the program.

Thank you for your feedback and we hope you can join us for another HistoryQuest in the future!


Wikispaces to Blog Conversion Feedback

Thoughts on the conversion of wikispaces videoconference projects to this blog format? This conversion is a summer project for me, and feedback is welcome.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.