Mystery Skype–Ecuador Style!

This week we were busy with a whole LOAD of fabulous things, but maybe our favorite was when we did a Mystery Skype with Ms. Turken on Thursday!  She is a beloved teacher who used to work at our school, but who has taken a year away to teach English in Ecuador.  That’s pretty amazing, right?

Well, when we had an opportunity to chat with her, we were beyond excited!  The best part, though, in my mind, was that most kiddos in my class didn’t know that she was where she was, so we decided to do a Mystery Skype with her.


It started in much the same way as the ones we’ve done previously this year–with us asking questions, using the computer and our big world map to figure out clues related to the answers, and then narrowing in on the location of our Mystery Skyper.

Sammy uses Google to help us figure out Ms. Turken's location.

Sammy uses Google to help us figure out Ms. Turken’s location.  I think at this point we’re even trying to zoom in as far as her town–Riobamba.

This map has been a very busy place in our classroom lately!

This map has been a very busy place in our classroom lately!

This was a special Mystery Skype, though, for a couple of reasons.  First of all, Mr. Kieschnick’s class came to sit in with us, so that they could learn how to do Mystery Skype, too.  That meant that we had 40 heads to help us figure out the clues instead of just our 20!  We kept talking, too, once we knew Ms. Turken’s location, since, of course, the real reason we called was to visit with our old friend.  She told us all about her life in Ecuador, including the food, her classroom where she teaches English, and she even gave us a little tour of the house where she’s living.  We learned many things about her (which I think I will leave for my students to tell you in the comments!), and had a great conversation.

So many kids in the room for this one!  That's Mr. Kieschnick in the corner of this picture.

So many kids in the room for this one! That’s Mr. Kieschnick in the corner of this picture.

And then, something very cool–and unexpected–happened.  Since Ms. Turken teaches English, but has to know how to both speak and understand Spanish to do that, someone asked that she speak to us in Spanish so we could hear what they sounds like.  Well, that’s a little bit weird unless you have a reason to be saying something, or someone to speak to in Spanish.  Remember how I told you that Mr. K’s class was there?  Well, a friend of his, Andres, piped up and offered to have a quick conversation with Ms. Turken in Spanish while we all watched and listened.  Perfect!

Ms. Turken began by asking him about school (escuela).  They went back and forth, and I know enough Spanish that I could figure out they were talking about math (mathematicas) and books (libras).  So while I couldn’t join in on the conversation, I could at least follow along.  Sophia, whose dad is from Peru, was also helpful in translating much of it to those sitting by her.  It was so cool to see the looks on everyone’s faces while Ms. Turken and Andres rattled away in another language–I know I heard “How do they do that?” several times and definitely saw big smiles and wide eyes on the faces of many.

Thank you, Ms. Turken, for a great morning, getting to know more about you and the adventures you are having in Ecuador!  We’re excited to learn more (she sent us questions to research) and to speak to you again soon!





Math Warm-Ups February 25-March 1, 2013

Last week was a little crazy, so we only had three warm-ups that stretched all throughout the week.


IMG267We came back to division (again) this week, as it’s a skill that many kiddos still have trouble with, even at this point in the year.  We have another unit of it in a couple more weeks, but we need the practice nonetheless.  The difference, too, this time is that we’re working on using a different strategy.  In the past–like when we were first learning how to divide–we thought about the number as a whole, and worked to find groups inside of it, rather than using the traditional algorithm.  Our focus was on understanding what division means, and we incorporated what we knew about multiplication as much as we could, as well.  This time, we’re trying to use the traditional method–still connecting to multiplication–but just organizing our thinking and our numbers in a different way.  We have been talking about reasonableness of answers, too, and use estimation to help us determine if our answers make sense.


The Rest of the Week

IMG269The rest of the mornings during the week were busy, we we actually took a couple of days to work through these problems.  You’ll notice a second division problem and then a good ‘ole adding fractions problem because we’re still fuzzy on this concept.  But truly, this is what is perfect about Math Warm-Ups–being able to easily revisit concepts that we need more time with.