Wednesday, March 11, 2009

First Ever Animal Quest

Today I ran the first-ever Animal Quest videoconference with six 3rd and 4th grade classes across Pennsylvania. The Animal Quest is modeled after the very popular multisite MysteryQuest and HistoryQuest videoconference programs started by TWICE and Berrien County RESA. (MAGPI runs our own versions of MysteryQuest USA and Where in PA? with permission from TWICE).

During this collaborative event, schools create presentations that give other schools participating in the game clues about a mystery animal. In order to make sure that everyone is presenting the same information, we provide the format for giving clues and a notetaking sheet to all schools to guide students in taking down information as they listen to the presentations. Following the presentations, all of the sites mute and have 20-25 minutes to determine what the mystery animals are using classroom resources - - anything is fair game except the teacher's prior knowledge. Then we do a round a yes/no questions to help students narrow down their guesses and they have a short period of time to reevaulate their answers. All schools have a chance to present their guesses - - and then there is the big reveal! I was amazed at how many different possibilities schools came up with when presenting their guesses - - and the creative ways in which they 'unveiled' their mystery animals. I was especially impressed with Forest Hills Elementary's snow leopard costume!

In truth, I'm not sure how much help the teacher's prior knowledge would have been during today's game because I learned about all sorts of new animals! In particular, animals that were new to me included the Okapi and the Olm. (Although, most of the schools on the call thought the Olm clues were about a salamander and I have to agree that there are a lot of similarities!)

All of the student presentations were great! Miss Fishman's class at Goodnoe Elementary in Newtown, Pennsylvania was kind enough to send me their short "clue movie" - - The ABC's of Our Mystery Animal. Take a look! Do you know what the mystery animal is?

Many thanks to all of the participating schools for a great morning event!

I know a lot of you are anxious to hear about the Afghanistan and Women's Right's Videoconference and Webstream Program that happened this afternoon - - more on that tomorrow.

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