Saturday, January 5

Inspired by "Why School?" (A Beginning)

Or... How I Introduced Edmodo!

“Connecting and learning with other people online, distinguishing good information from bad, creating and sharing important works with the world: None of that (and a whole bunch of other stuff I could mention) is on the test.”

Richardson, Will (2012-09-10). Why School?: How Education Must Change When Learning and Information Are Everywhere (Kindle Single) (Kindle Locations 174-176). TED Conferences. Kindle Edition.

I’m currently reading “Why School?” and I’m completely over-using the high-lighting feature on my Kindle!  One of my favorite notes: “No matter how often we dub our kids “digital natives,” the fact is they can still use our help to do those things and more if they are to thrive in the abundance of their times.”  While I consistently try to learn and grow with my students, especially with integrating technology, this book has provided me with a clearer picture of how I visualize my teaching.

I’m leading the Reading Olympics for fourth grade at my school.  I wanted to find a way to have the participants feel not only motivated, but connected as we prepare for our event in May.  To that end, I introduced Edmodo.  At our weekly meeting, I told them that it reminded me of Twitter and Facebook, and instantly these two words were all the anticipatory set I needed.  They were attentive and eager to learn.

I told them that I love Twitter and use it as a way to connect with other educators around the world.  Edmodo reminded me of it and I thought it would be a great way for all of us to discuss the books they were reading.  My typically rambunctious and energetic group was mesmerized as I displayed Edmodo on the Smartboard.  I set up a student account for myself so that the displayed screen would replicate what they would see.  I modeled how I picked my profile icon, joined groups, and connected with our school district.  I shared that we would learn together since Edmodo was new to me as well.

Next, I showed them my teacher account.  They thought this was particularly fascinating.  It was as if they were getting a peak into the teachers’ lunch room.  Again, they were completely focused and mesmerized.  I quickly gave reminders about appropriate posts.  Basically, I reminded them not to post anything they wouldn't shout in front of their parents or teachers.  I have found this is the quickest and easiest reminder to provide.

By dinnertime that night my notifications on my phone and laptop were out of control.  All the students had signed up and were posting.  At our next meeting, we talked about not just saying hello or as they say, “sup,” but composing posts that focused on their reading.  I also congratulated them on the ease at which they learned how to do more than what I introduced.

When we met yet again, I told them I had an idea.  I suggested that we put images of the books we were reading next to our posts.  I said I wasn't sure how to do it and I needed their help.  Within seconds, the  group figured out how to navigate to Google images, copy/past using their right click and paste the images.  The speed at which they worked together and listened to one another was breathtakingly fast and efficient.  Then, since we were working on PCs, I asked about doing it on Macs.  I wanted to make sure they were cognizant of different operating systems.  As I stood back and watched them, I was in awe of their almost innate collaboration skills.  

One of my favorite quotes from “Why School?” is, “Students are encouraged to connect with others, and to collaborate and create with them on a global scale. It’s not “do your own work,” so much as “do work with others, and make it work that matters.”

I think we are off to a good start.