I started my journey about 10 years ago. I remember my 2nd grade fam and I skyped with my friend who lived in Ohio. I Skyped a couple more times my first year. Each year after, I added a few more until 7 years ago my kids and I Skyped with every state in the US and even some countries outside the U.S. I can honestly say I was and still am hooked!
From that point on it was a challenge each year for us to get every state in the United States. How do we find these amazing people to connect with? Twitter, of course! I have met some incredible people who are not only my friends but my family. I consider these friends my brothers and sisters! They live all over the world and each one inspires and motivates me daily!
The 2020-2021 school year was very stressful for everyone! For me, I started teaching virtual and will continue in this format for the rest of the year! In the beginning every emotion filled my heart! I felt anxious, stressed, nervous, and wondered HOW? How would I continue all the fun activities I’ve done face to face, virtually? I heard myself saying to myself, I can’t do this. I am not going to be able to do mystery zooms and other activities. How would I? It would be too hard! It would be too difficult to teach how to navigate an app and locate a place without being together face to face. AND then I said, “THIS ISN’T ABOUT ME!” I realized that it’s about my family and nothing is impossible! They deserve to experience this amazing activity!
So the first week, I shared and modeled with my kids the Classkick app. They use this app to access various maps which they use to figure out the mystery location. I gave clues about a state and they guessed it within 4 clues. They were hooked and I knew right there, it would be one of the most memorable experiences of the year! I was right! So far we have zoomed with 26 states and 8 countries. I have more scheduled and am hopeful that we will mystery zoom with all 50 states! One of my kiddos even said I remind him of Mrs. Frizzle and we all ride the magic bus to different states and countries:)
Our guests have been educators, admin, speakers, scientists, authors, and more! Our guests not only give us clues as to their location but some have read their favorite book, shared how to navigate an app, given us a kindness challenge, breakout challenge, and more! We may zoom with a state more than once because it’s not just about the state but the amazing people we meet! Each one teaches my family a valuable lesson! After each zoom I choose a kiddo to create a #ZoomSnaps which is where they showcase highlights of that zoom in picture form:) #Zoomsnaps are a version of Tara Martin’s #Booksnaps.
We showcase all of our #Zoomsnaps as a remembrance of our zooms:)
And even MORE exciting, a mystery zoom guest makes a live appearance in my classroom! WHAT?!? I have been so lucky to welcome the Flipgrid family, Michael Drezek, Jenna Mercury, LaVonna Roth, & Bobbi Hopkins into my family's classroom! We had the BEST time from coding,
STEM, read aloud to dancing and powerful conversations! I can’t wait for more visitors when COVID is gone and we can go back to a new normal!
Mystery zooms are a highlight every year and not only does it teach kids geographical skills but it teaches them life skills, problem solving, tech skills, perseverance, leadership, team work, listening, patience, and more! These are the life lessons that our kids will remember for years to come!
In the end it’s not about the destinations but about the wonderful people we meet. This experience is priceless and one that my kids will remember forever! Every year, my 2nd grade family travels around the globe and meets so many phenominal people and learns all about their passions & cultures.