MysteryQuest Teacher Story

I’m cleaning up my MysteryQuest World site (to meet the new standard), and so I need to archive these on another site. Here they are for your enjoyment!

By Jeff Gaynor, Clague Middle School, Ann Arbor

I did Mystery Quest last year, with the idea that risk taking is good, and found it a fabulous experience. Besides being on the forefront of technology, having this live experience really did sharpen my students’ motivation and performance through the whole process. I put the responsibility on them – my job was to keep the project manageable and the kids relaxed – but they really did much of the work – with more effort and resolve than they usually put forth. Plus we had a good time and felt pretty special.

Know that we are all in it together – and there is no real pressure the day of the videoconference. Everyone will be understanding and supportive. It is not a competition – just a cool event. There were people with whom I couldn’t do this without. Janine, of course, was supportive the whole way through – and will go above and beyond, to make you comfortable. We had to bus to our local ISD and the tech guy there was incredible. He had me out beforehand and showed me just what would happen, made fantastic suggestions to make my job easier, and then ran the show, from the tech side, during the conference. The tech person should be able to give you specific guidelines too – depending on the set up and equipment available. I couldn’t have handled that and the class too – so check out how your end of the video conference will go. You need to have confidence that part is handled. (Oh there were glitches, but we dealt with them – and it was a big thing that they weren’t MY responsibility. 🙂

I have 2 groups for 2 classes (World Geography / Math) and I took each class on separate days. Each did it’s own country, which kept things interesting and we came up with a different ‘plot device’ for each one too. One class we did a ‘jeopardy game’ format, and the other a skit where a group of explorers crashed on the shore, not knowing where they were – they went on to ask questions of the people they met. I jazzed this one up by showing a video clip from of a sailing ship going around Cape Horn – but that was just silly fun. Someone suggested we could have done jeopardy with a Powerpoint set up – but I just juggled 30 sheets of papers with the questions -and that many sheets for the answers, and placed them under a document camera (which the tech guy showed me :). For 4 classes you might want to keep things simpler though – come up with a format to use for each class – though a different country so YOU won’t get bored. Each class would present to a different group of kids, so THAT doesn’t matter.

We spent about a week, divided up into groups of 4-5 doing research on sample countries – to get a feel for the questions and answers, and the resources and web links we had. This also helped during the research time during the video conference as we knew where to look for different kinds of clues. Then a week researching and setting up the presentation for our chosen country. We wish we had twice as much time, but again, nothing gets stale and kids know they have to use every minute wisely.

I felt this was a great project at the beginning of the year to introduce students to resources they’ll use a lot during the year – encyclopedias, almanacs, and various web sites.

And if you are worried you don’t have enough time to participate, join the club – we all feel that way – but we’ll manage it the best we can. I think maybe what’s most important is to guage your class. Sell it well, but then ask them if THEY want to do it, explaining carefully that it means no free rides, and every single person will be on camera and has to do their share.

Good luck – go for it.

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