The Missouri Reader Vol. 41, Issue 1 - Page 39

Children who struggle to learn phonics knowledge will often be delayed in their overall reading ability.

Blue: Questions

Pink: Unknown words Orange: Something funny


Some of the questions included

● Is your city a large?

● Are you located in the dissected till plains?

● Is your city near the Mississippi river?

● Does your city have any major universities?

● Does your city have fertile soil, good for farming?

The question leaders were responsible for asking these questions in front of the SMART board, so when the other class gave us their response, the answer leaders were in charge of recording those answers.

My class and the class in Nixa got on Google Hangout together and took turns asking questions. Once responses were given, the mappers, recorders, and researchers began tracking this information. They sat closely to one another so they could compare research and narrow down the cities that were left. The other students were busy figuring out what our next questions would be, taking pictures, analyzing maps, or researching new questions if we did not have enough. The expectations that we set up in the beginning stated that our room would be quiet so that each person could focus on their job. Now this does not mean that no one was goofing around. However, I was impressed by the passion and seriousness my students had during this activity. They were determined to use their knowledge and research skills to figure out where our mystery class was in the state of Missouri.

To our surprise, the class in Nixa was able to guess our location of Kansas City much quicker than we were able to guess theirs. After about 40 minutes of questioning, researching and collaborating, we finally figured out that the other class was located in Nixa, MO! As a class, we discussed why it took us longer to locate them. The students soon realized that Kansas City is much easier to find because it is a large, well-known city, whereas Nixa is a smaller town outside of Springfield, MO. The students were ecstatic when they figured this puzzle out on their own.

As a teacher, I was able to see what my students knew about Missouri and how they could research and put information together without having to give them a lengthy test. The coolest thing this project showed me is that a test could not have portrayed the excitement on my students’ faces after solving this problem together as a team. This lesson taught me to take a risk during my first year of teaching and it has only opened other doors for me in the areas of lesson planning and technology. It also made me feel good that I was teaching my students about digital literacy, which Vacca et al. (2017) define as “the use of digital technology, communication tools, or networks to locate, evaluate, use, and create information” (p. 10). This project opened all kinds of news tools for learning for my students.


Vacca, R. T., Vacca, J. A., & Mraz, M. (2017).Content area reading: Literacy and learning across the curriculum. Boston, MA: Pearson.

Brooke Hult is a fourth grade teacher in Kansas City, Missouri, in the Park Hill School District. She is working on her Master’s Degree in literacy through Missouri State University.