Day 1 of Technopalooza

I had an amazing day of learning today at Technopalooza in Ft. Worth.  I want to share some highlights.

Mystery Skype 

Edna_Phythian_CroppedI attended a session on Global Competence lead by the Global Connections Liaison from Highland Park ISD, Edna Phythian.  I actually went to two of her sessions because she was so awesome.

In one of her sessions a group of us participated in a Mystery Skype.  Have you ever even heard of Mystery Skype?  This was my first time ever hearing that term.

Edna connected us with Hugh McDonald (@hughtheteacher) via Skype.  As a group we had to figure out where in the world Hugh was located by only asking him yes and no questions.  We all took turns asking him questions like, “Are you north of the Rocky Mountains?”, “Are you west of highway 5?”, “Do you live on an island?” and so on.

I was a bit apprehensive at first.  Let’s just say, geography is not my strong suit, but once we got into it we were all completely engaged. My friend Jen was able to figure out that Hugh was in Langley, Canada.

This activity made my mind race with ideas of ways this can be adapted for a variety of subjects and grade levels. One participant had the idea of having a community worker wear civilian clothing and then having her kindergarten class ask the community worker questions to figure out what their job was.

Hugh suggested that we could also do a “Guess my number” session.  Once we got talking, we all realized the possibilities were endless, only limited by our own creativity.

Here is a video Hugh shared on his YouTube channel of his class participating in a Mystery Skype lesson.  Wait until you see his class in action! It is amazing to see the thinking, collaboration and problem solving going on. It is clear that the activity is both highly engaging and highly educational.

Now What? 

I can’t wait to share Mystery Skype with my campus teachers and help them connect our students with students around the world. To learn how to connect with other teachers on Skype visit this site: or use this Twitter hashtag #MysterySkype.

Here is a video that Edna shared that I plan on using to introduce them to this new way of connecting our students with the world.

Augmented Reality Session 

The session Jennifer and I presented on Augmented Reality (AR) in the classroom was so fun.  We had a full house and got to share some neat AR resources.  Here is a picture of our session participants in the storm from The Flying Books by Mr. Morris Lessman. This is a must have book, trust me, just go buy it right now on Amazon. You and your students are going to love this book!

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A bonus . . .

After the conference Jennifer Kimbrell and I went out to dinner and the neatest thing happened! The manager came to our table at the end of our meal to inform us that a customer paid for our entire meal! Simply a random act of kindness!

Now I need to think of a way to pay it forward.

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Jennifer Kimbrell and Nancy Alvarez Salt Grass Steak House Ft. Worth, TX

I can’t wait to go back tomorrow for a second day of learning.

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