Learning through Skype

A Dual Language Mystery
Posted on 11/13/2019
Student with globeBy: Benjamin Rickert, BCS Communications

A Glen Arden student collects a clue by recording part of a live video conversation.
The game was afoot as Glen Arden Elementary students had a mystery to solve in Ms. Erika Gutiérrez’s dual language classroom Friday. With assistance from Digital Learning Facilitator Kendra Jarvis, students put on their detective hats and played a geography guessing game with another bilingual classroom in a far-off, secret location using a live video stream!

The challenge for students was to determine the location of the classroom they saw on screen while translating and asking questions answerable with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ As they discussed, laughed, and puzzled their way to the conclusion, the Glen Arden second-graders spoke entirely in Spanish! Conversely, the mystery classroom students spoke only in English, since Spanish was their first language. The game gave students on both sides of the conversation the opportunity to practice their second language, make new friends, and think about geography in a new way.

“Are you located in the Northern Hemisphere?” asked one Glen Arden student (in Spanish) into a web-cam.

Digital Learning Facilitator Kendra Jarvis assist a student with his investigation.“Yes!” came the reply from a smiling young girl, whose image was projected onto the classroom smart board.

The Glen Arden students cheered at their early success in gaining helpful information. Students from each class took turns speaking, while strategizing with classmates and consulting maps between questions.

“I want the students to be able to travel to places that they’ve never been before and develop empathy for kids that are different than them,” said Jarvis, who used Twitter to locate and recruit the other classroom’s teacher. “This will allow them to do so.”

As one of six Digital Learning Facilitators in Buncombe County Schools, Jarvis teams up with Roberson district teachers like Ms. Gutiérrez to help integrate technology into their lessons. The underlying goal is to support and enhance curriculum. In this case, that meant adding a digital learning dimension to Glen Arden’s existing focus on global education.

Ms. Erika Gutiérrez leads her class in the iconic "dab" dance move.One particularly humorous moment occurred as the mystery classroom was attempting to zero in on the location of Gutiérrez's students. It was already established that the state touched the Appalachian mountain range, so the Glen Arden students gave a helpful hint by striking the "dab" dance move position. (Professional football fans far and wide are familiar with this signature move performed by players of the Carolina Panthers team based in Charlotte.) The maneuver inspired plenty of laughs and it wasn't long before North Carolina was correctly guessed.

In the end, Gutiérrez’s students identified the mystery school as Scott School Elementary in a suburb of Chicago called Melrose Park. Their new friends were in a third grade bilingual classroom led by Ms. Jocelin Aldinger. Moving forward, the two classrooms will converse through a video sharing app called Flipgrid, with which they’ll record and send messages in their second language.

“This way, we will continue to learn more about one another and also practice our language skills,” Jarvis said.