It has come to that time of year where nearly all of my students are having to take end of year exams. I’m always looking to find innovative and interesting ways to help motivate students to revise. This year a fellow teacher and MIEE, Mr Thom, suggested using Skype between our classrooms to try it out. He wanted a run through before participating in Mystery Skype. Therefore, we came up with the idea of having a competition. My students then proceeded to name this as Skype Wars.
To make this work well we had to lay down some rules and how the competition would run. We decided that each group would have to come up with 5 revision questions based on the content required for the end of year exam, they also had to know the correct answer. In priming the students we made sure they were aware of etiquette, not talking loud in the background and sportsmanship. We had agreed a time for the call to take place and that students had to turn off all devices when the competition had started so they could not just look up the answers. This also gave us a better chance of the call working well as we weren’t using up all the bandwidth with student devices. The students got very excited and were busy working out their questions and asking if they were viable, not too difficult or were open to interpretation. When the call began, we as the teachers were not involved, students took the lead. We both had a student to handle the general introductions and introduce each student when they asked their question. We took it in turns to ask questions. As devices were all turned off (and we use OneNote for nearly everything in Science) students had to problem solve how they would remember the questions and begin working out the answers while other questions were being asked. They organised themselves into small groups, each one working on a different question. Once all of the questions were asked we thanked the other team and ended the call. All the students were then busy trying to work out all of the answers. When a team had all of the answers that team then called the others to find out if they had them all correct. We were first, the call was made. We gave our first answer, they gave theirs. Obviously we kept score, which was very exciting. It was just like a penalty shootout in the final of the World Cup. We went 5-4 up, they hadn’t worked out the answer to the final question, so we won! There was a loud cheer, our MC then congratulated the other team for doing so well and asking great questions, they followed suit. The game was over.
Another member of the department, @coffeychemistry then asked to have a game of Skype Wars. So round 2 was on. We ran things fairly close to the original game, however, she came up with the idea that we should make it one question on each main topic for the exam, so we were making 6 questions. Things ran very well again. There were some tricky questions by both groups that were well thought out. We made the call back again, this put us in a better position for a win. We went 2-0 down, with some good explanations for why my students got the answer wrong. This was a great learning opportunity which was delivered by other students. We finally clawed back to 4-4 with the other team to answer the final question. They didn’t have the correct answer, one of my students took them through the calculation and modelled how to answer the question in an exam. So the final score was 4-4. Everybody was happy. It’s amazing what 12 year olds can achieve.
Skype Wars was an excellent way to get the whole class involved and excited about revision. It’s a must do and you can play in the same school between classes or even with another class in a different country.
Next time I would prime the students to create the questions the lesson before and put certain students in charge of each small group. I would also arrange a time to make the call back and not leave it until one group had answered everything, this will give them a timeframe and make the outcome more exciting. Other than that, I am looking forward to doing this again, maybe with other schools. So if anyone is interested, I teach students general Science in KS3 (11-14 year olds) and Physics at KS4 (GCSE, 14-16 year olds) and KS5 (IBDP 16-18 year olds) please just contact me via twitter on @Clive_Gibson or through the MEC, just look up Clive Gibson and request a Mystery Skype.