Krebs' Class Blogs

Constructing, creating, communicating, collaborating, and thinking critically in grade 5.

December 6, 2017
by Denise Krebs

We had a Mystery Skype Session!

Each morning, I try to start my day writing 759 words. This morning, I was writing along and then wrote this:

“So, this morning I am going to try to connect for a Mystery Skype call. I have no idea how I’m going to do it. It will happen in one hour, so I guess I bett”

I got to that place in the writing and closed my computer.

15 hours later, I came back to finish:
er go…

Yes, I am glad I stopped writing when I did. I quickly got ready and went to school, arriving at 6:40 a.m. Two girls greeted me at the door. Others began coming.

It took most all of my attention to mess with hardware. I brought my Chrome book to school so I could have a portable device to hook up to the HDMI cable. I had my phone to tether to for the WiFi. And all of it made me nervous. Then I needed to fix the display and the sound. I needed to find the HDMI cable. I did everything I knew how to do. It was 6:57 a.m.

While I worked on hardware, the children kept coming. They moved chairs. They covered their logos with duct tape, for they didn’t want the students in our Mystery Skype call to get any extra hints. They then started writing some clues about where we were. The Northern Hemisphere, Eastern Hemisphere, Asia. We speak Arabic. It is 7:00 a.m. here.

Then the phone rang. I missed the first call.

They rang again, and we answered it. We could see them, but they couldn’t see us. Another thing to figure out. How to get the video to work. The teacher on the other end of the call, Mr. Benjamin Lannen, (@bjlannen) was very helpful. His school was at the end of a day-long Skype-athon. We were the sixth school they Skyped with today.

Today I learned again a lot I had forgotten about Mystery Skyping. This was my students’ very first experience. First, we went back and forth asking questions. We figured out you had to ask Yes or No questions.

Them: Are you in Asia? Yes.
Us: Are you in Australia? **Open mouths** Yes! How did you know? (One of our boys recognized the accent. Sorry!)
Them: Are you in northern Asia? **Looking at each other, wonderingly. Then…** No
Us: Are you in NW Australia? No.
Them: Are you in Saudi Arabia? No **Someone wanted to say, ‘But we’re really close.’**
Us: Are you in SE Australia? Yes!
Them: Are you on a really small island? **Unanimously** YES!
Them: Are you in Bahrain? YES!

Narrowing down where in Australia our Skypers were from.

A post shared by arsgrade5 (@arsgrade5) on

Then we asked and answered more questions about each other, like what time is it here (7:30 a.m.) and there (3:30 p.m.). We watched two short commercials for their school that the students had created. Then we said good-bye.

Our students were so excited about the opportunity to do this activity.

Now we’re talking about making our own commercials for our school and planning our own Skype-athon!

June 10, 2015
by Denise Krebs

Bilbies Coming to Bahrain

Thanks to Mr. Ross Mannell, retired teacher and blog post commenter extraordinaire, we took part in a drawing on his blog called Extended Comments for Students.

Our comment was the second one here on his post about bilbies. Lucky number 2 was drawn, matching our comment in the second position, so we won this packet of surprises from Australia. We will be excited to learn all about these interesting animals next school term. You can see the items we will get for our classroom in the picture below.

Used with permission from Ross Mannell

Image used with permission from Ross Mannell

Thank you so much to our friend Mr. Mannell!

June 5, 2011
by Denise Krebs

Good-bye, Stanleys! We loved having you!

Flat Stanley Poster

Finally, we have all said good-bye to Stanleys belonging to Mrs. Howlin’s class and shipped them back to New South Wales. We had lots of fun with them. They were kept busy here in Iowa. Here are a few photos of their adventures, plus a special video for Jorja.

Checking out the compost pile, which includes compostable plastic.

Checking out the compost pile, which includes compostable plastic.

On the neighbor's swing set

On the neighbor's swing set

Grace with Jorja's and Meghan with Angus' Flat Stanleys

Grace with Jorja's and Meghan with Angus' Flat Stanleys

May 13, 2011
by Denise Krebs

Flat Stanley Came For a Visit

Welcome, Stanley, all the way from New South Wales, Australia! Mrs. Howlin’s Year 3 and 4 students sent us nine sturdy Stanleys. They came in a mailer with photos, drawings, and stories.

Since we only have four more days of school before summer break, we got busy entertaining them and introducing them to our Iowa school. Here is a video that shows some of their adventures today.

The students also took them home for the weekend to experience life on the farm, high school graduation parties, traveling, and all the other busy details of a junior higher weekend.

I can’t wait to find out what they do this weekend.

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