Tag Archives: professional development

Maximizing Learning, Implementation, and Reflection with Creative Professional Learning Models

This blog post accompanies my session, Maximizing Learning, Implementation, and Reflection with Creative Professional Learning Models, presented at the 2018 Teachers’ Convention of the North American Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

PPT: Maximizing Learning, Implementation, and Reflection

Models of Online Professional Learning

Scaffolding for Success with Large Scale

  • Cheat sheets: simple instructions with screen shots for each tool used
  • Phone numbers: who to call? tiered level of support
  • Facilitators for large groups
  • Mechanism for smalls schools to interact
  • PDF agenda, resources, instructions, handbook. Printed ahead of time.

Additional Resources

MysteryQuest Beaches 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!

MysteryQuest Beaches: A Professional Development VC Project

Welcome to the MysteryQuest Beaches video conference project. This project is designed for teachers interested in learning project formats for videoconference projects.

During the workshop, teachers will create a presentation with clues about their selected Mystery Beach. The other teachers, using maps, the Internet, and other resources, will try to discover the Mystery Beach presented by the other groups.

30 min. Group Presentations 
(3-5 min. each for 6 presentations)
20 min. The Quest: Locating Sites 
(All sites mute.)
5 min. Question and Answers
 (This section will be tightly moderated.

  • Group 1 answers all questions.
  • Group 2 answers all questions.
  • Group 3 answers all questions.
  • Group 4 answers all questions.
  • Group 5 answers all questions.
  • Group 6 answers all questions.

5 min. Group teams ‘reevaluate’ their answers.
5 min. Groups present their guesses.
5 min. Correct Mystery Beaches revealed.

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

Contact and Credits

This workshop is used as part of the 123 VC: Jazzing Up Your Curriculum with Videoconferencing.

Please contact the lead facilitators for more information.

MysteryQuest Beaches Creator
Janine Lim, Berrien RESA Instructional Technology Consultant, 1997-2011


Movie from MysteryQuest USA

Sample Visuals
Visual clues can really make a difference in note taking if we have audio problems. Often students read clues too fast and quiet for other students to write them down. So the best solution is to include visual clues to accompany your presentation. This is HIGHLY recommended.

• Posters are the easiest way to share a visual clue but can also be the most difficult to show effectively in a videoconference. In presentations where the other class is taking notes, clear posters are crucial. Even in presentations where the partner class is listening, it is still very frustrating when posters aren’t clear. Placing a poster on an easel keeps the poster still and is therefore easier for the other class to see it. Make sure the font is large and easy to read.
• Your poster should only include information that is needed to answer the MysteryQuest questions. All extra information should be presented separately.
• Bottom Line: Large text, strong contrast with no light colors for lettering, and very large pictures or drawings. Huge thick lines for drawing and writing are best. Test your poster by holding it up; across the room to see if you can still read it. Have students read their part off of the back of the poster instead of the front. This makes it easier to hold the poster still (if not using and easel.)

Use the VC Poster Handout to give to your student groups to assist in making their posters.

Document Camera
Many videoconference systems include a document camera. You can put 8 1/2 by 11 pages (landscape) on the document camera to share clues. Ask your distance learning or technology coordinator if you have access to a document camera. You may want to consider setting presets so that you can switch between the students and the document camera.

With the document camera, it comes through best if you stack the clues and then pull the top one off. This reduces the blurry transition time.

If you’re really up for using technology, ask your distance learning or technology coordinator if you can hook up a computer to your videoconference equipment. Make sure you use large letters. Avoid red. Dark backgrounds with contrasting light text works best. If possible, test the PowerPoint ahead of time to make sure it can be read.
You may want to consider some plan so that we can see the students, then the PowerPoint, then the students again. Or show the PP as a review at the end of your presentation if there is time in your allotted 5-7 minutes.

Background Sets
Some classes like to design elaborate sets for their presentations, which are very visually appealing. Here are some examples:

News shows are always fun, especially when complemented by visuals to review the clues. This class, from Western Hills, El Paso, did a news show. In this shot, the announcer is in a helicopter!!! How cool is that?!

This is an example from New York State of a background that gives clues at the same time as providing a set for a new show.

Other Creative Clues

Clues from Hunter Elementary, Fairbanks, Alaska in 2007.

Climate clue for Alaska: Land + midnight + sun. Get it?

Alaska’s time zone clue: EST -4; CST – 3, etc.

Math and Geography Clues from St. Thomas Aquinas School in Wisconsin in 2007.

Deal or No Deal Game Show by Sylvester Elementary, Berrien Springs, MI, in 2007

Rhyming Clues
Pennfield Central Elementary, Pennfield, MI, integrated their poetry unit into their MysteryQuest USA presentation. Here’s a sample of their rhymes:

  • All of our clues are going to rhyme
  • And we’re all going to have a great, great time.


  • Goods are not just imported by train,
  • They are also imported by semi and plane.


  • The population is more than eleven.
  • But a whole lot less than one thousand seven.

Organizing Your Research Time
Strategy of having a wall or whiteboard or place to write the guesses for all the schools. It gives a focal point to the research.

Revealing Your Answer
A visual aid for revealing your answer is also a nice touch, especially if your city has a long and complicated spelling. A visual with a map is great too!

How To

Creating Posters for Videoconferencing

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.


This works best with 4 – 6 sites participating; however you can make it work with just two sites as well.

Assign each group an area of the world (i.e. Australia, Europe, Africa, North America, South America, etc.).

(This is the professional development version of MysteryQuest, so instead of being narrowed to a specific area of the world like other MysteryQuests, the teachers have to research from the whole world.)

Each group should select and present a specific beach (not just a city close to a beach).

Preparing Your Group Presentation:

  1. Choose a specific beach to present from your assigned area. Each site will present a beach.
  2. In the presentation, give the required clues in your presentation.
  3. Divide the participants into groups to ensure everyone is involved. Some suggested groups:
    • Researchers [Region clues, Location clues, Place clues], Script Writers, Prop & Visuals/Decorations
  4. Prepare a visual to reveal the answer to your presentation (beach, city, & country).
  5. Make sure all participants have paper to take notes on all the presentations. This way if one team figures out a mystery quickly they can help another team.

Required Clues

If you prefer, you may add additional information to your presentation. Be sure to keep the presentation very concise: (3-5 minutes or less).

Developing Your Clues

When developing your clues try to make sure each one is challenging. The other participants should not be able to determine your beach and country just from hearing one or two clues and not doing any research. For example, if you were presenting a clue for Orlando, Florida you would never want to come out and say you can visit Disney World. Also, you would not want to give a clue that the other classes can Google and find in the first few search result descriptions.

Country & Beach Clues

Answer at least one question from this category.
1. Describe how land and sea areas define the country’s borders.
2. What other landmarks are close to the beach?

Answer both questions from this category.
1. What is the relative location of this beach? (i.e. Describe it’s location compared to another significant location of your choice. Be fairly specific as our time is short for guessing.)
2. Which direction from the country capitol do you travel to reach the beach?

Answer at least four questions from this category.
1. What body of water is closest to the beach?
2. What is the area of the country in which the beach is located?
3. What is the primary language of the country in which the beach is located?
4. What is the population of the country in which the beach is located?
5. Give a clue about a tourist attraction near your beach (other than the beach). Illustrate if possible.
6. What is the population of the nearest city?
7. Describe one or more notable physical land forms in or near this city.

Finally: Check over your clues and make sure the other group can actually figure it out! Not too easy; but not too hard either!


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

Other MysteryQuests

You can use any of these ideas and create your own point-to-point Quest using these materials. Use CAPspace to get a collaborative partner.

Maximizing Reach, Learning, and Reflection with Online Professional Development

This blog post accompanies my session, Maximizing Reach, Learning, and Reflection with Online Professional Development, presented at the 2018 Nebraska Distance Learning Association Conference.


Models of Online Professional Learning

Scaffolding for Success with Large Scale

  • Cheat sheets: simple instructions with screen shots for each tool used
  • Phone numbers: who to call? tiered level of support
  • Facilitators for large groups
  • Mechanism for smalls schools to interact
  • PDF agenda, resources, instructions, handbook. Printed ahead of time.