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We Did a Mystery Hangout...Now What?

A few months ago, my class embarked on a journey. We wanted to connect with the world. Using Google Hangouts, we did just that! Over the course of 4 months, we connected with learners and educators from Missouri, New York, Kamloops, Calgary, South Korea, and Switzerland. 

We have honed our geography skills and are now able to ask very clear questions in order to locate someone anywhere in the world all the way down to their school board and name of school. 


Now what? 


Do we keep partnering up with other classrooms to just guess their locations? Don't get me wrong. My class has never been more engaged. They see themselves as citizens of a global village rather than just students of their elementary school. They feel connected.  


After our last hangout though, I had this nagging feeling that this could be more than just a guessing game. What comes next?


Here are some ideas for how to take the next step after a mystery hangout.


Research
Set up a time to connect again with your new friends.  Prior to the next hangout, send each other a list of questions about their location. Kids will research the answers and share them with each other. It would be an authentic opportunity to develop research questions and practice research skills. Thanks to +Amy Passman for working with my class through this learning process.

Debates

Organize the classes into groups and have them debate over a hangout. Each class can prepare over the course of a few weeks in their own schools and then connect for a real live debate. It will be an incredibly authentic experience if kids can debate students from outside their own school. Consider contacting administrators from other boards to act as "judges" during the debate. Educator Melissa Butler demonstrates the power of a virtual debate clearly in this amazing example

Pathways

Determine some pathways that are of interest to your students and connect with professionals from that field. Have students prepare questions related to that industry and perhaps the professionals can act as mentors to your students.

Perspectives

A classroom from Ontario and a classroom from Detroit might explore the War of 1812 very differently. Why not have students chat about the different interpretations of the same event instead of just hearing about both sides from their teacher.

Media Literacy

Connecting with classrooms and professionals from around the world can become challenging because of time zones. Why not have students prepare, film, edit and share a video with a classroom from around the world. Taking it to the next level, students from different locations could even use apps like WeVideo and collaborate in the creative process together.

Community Engagement

Once students are comfortable with the hangout process, why not produce a weekly or monthly live "news" broadcast to the families of the school? They can share all the innovative learning that is taking place in their building. These could even be recorded as Hangouts On Air with the links tweeted out or posted on a school website so families could view them together in the evening.

Literature Circles

If you have 4 or 5 groups reading different novels, why not give each group an opportunity to hangout with students from another school that are reading the same text. Grow their literature circles so that they can have rich discussions with children outside their own classroom. 

Virtual Field Trips

These are my favourite!
There are many professionals out there who are ready and willing to connect with classrooms.

Check out the following people/organizations that we've connected with for virtual field trips:

Google Connected Classrooms
Google offers some fantastic opportunities for students. They post their official connected classroom lessons rarely but when they do, they are extremely worthwhile. You can also request to join the Google Connected Classroom g+ community. This is the place where I found almost all of our VFTs.

GeoShow
Brandon is an educator who is about to embark on a journey around the world and take classrooms with him as their personal correspondent. Join in a Hangout on Air (click here to see ours) with him or just watch as he explores parts of the world that our students may never have the chance to see.

Virgin Galactic Future Astronauts
This was an exciting opportunity for our students to chat with future space pioneers. Click here to access a hangout request form.

Minnesota Zoo

The zoo offers unique experiences with animals and expert zoo keepers. Follow them on g+ to see when their next hangout is offered. 

The National World War II Museum
I haven't had the chance to test this one out yet but it is a definite option.

Skype in the Classroom
I know I'm all about GAFE but let's not forget the valuable option of Skype in the Classroom. 

Google+
Search Virtual Field Trips and see what comes up!

Global Encounters
The Global Encounters program brings together students from across the world through live video conferences that explore global issues and the potential youth have to shape a better common future. To take part in a Global Encounter, they suggest using WebEx

If you have other ways to incorporate Hangouts into your classroom, please share them in the comments below. I'd love to hear them!

**Thanks to a comment from +Sarah Field Mensink, I thought I'd add in two fantastic g+ communities to source out mystery hangouts.

Mystery Hangout
Mystery Location Calls





Virtual Field Trips 6399028050530164899

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