Point-to-Point MysteryQuests

08-02-21mq.jpgThis week I’ve been facilitating three Point-to-Point MysteryQuests for Reed Middle School in Bridgman, MI. They connected to MO, NJ, and CA. It’s our first time running MysteryQuests in just an hour with just one other school. The time frame better fits the traditional middle school schedule and makes it easier for the teachers to schedule and participate. We did one each day so that they weren’t scheduled back to back.

The schedule is generally as follows – with some flexibility depending on how everything works out:

  • 5 min. Introductions & background info about each of the schools
  • 15 min. Presentations from both schools
  • 15 min. Research with NO computers
  • 5 min. Research with computers
  • 5 min. Clarifying questions
  • 5 min. Reconsider answers and more research (computers allowed)
  • 10 min. Sharing guesses, correct answers, and some time to ask each other questions.

The teacher and I discussed the computers issue and decided to not allow computers during the first research portion. The hard thing about a decision like this is the varied difficulty level presented by the other classes. One of the class presentations was so hard that we didn’t get it at all. The other one we were able to get even after losing 20 minutes to technical difficulties. It seems to be an issue to play by ear. In the session with the hard presentation, we allowed the students to use computers sooner.

If you’re familiar with the MysteryQuest format, you’ll notice that one difference here is the amount of research time. In a traditional multipoint MysteryQuest format, students have 30-40 minutes to research. Of course in that format they are research 4-5 other presentations. In this case, the whole class is researching the one presentation. In theory it should go faster. But we did find this week that each time when the 20 minutes were up the classes wanted more time.

The classes seemed to be mostly involved as usual. I did notice some “behavior” in front of the camera towards the end of the research times. With just one presentation to research, it’s harder to get all the students involved in the research. Easier to lose some who are prone to get distracted anyways. However, it seems to me that the lack of scheduling headaches seems to outweigh this disadvantage to the shortened format.

In the connections where we didn’t have technical difficulties, we were able to spend more time letting the students ask each other questions.

My sense is also that if a teacher does this a couple times, they’d be able to do a point to point MysteryQuest without a facilitator. I would like to get to that point so that we can increase the number of these sessions. There’s only so many sessions a person can facilitate!

I look forward to additional feedback from my teacher. We’re doing another point-to-point one in March with a different teacher, so we’ll see how that one goes too. Overall though, I’m pleased with this adaptation of the program to make it easier for our middle school classes to participate.

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