Thursday, January 12, 2012

Edmodo = amazing.

My students are really, really smart.  Sometimes, I can't get over how smart they are.  We had a debate in class on whether or not the average person could run and be successful in gaining political office.  When the bell rung, they were not finished.  They begged me to continue the debate the next day.

Since I had to give  benchmark today, I told them we couldn't do it in class, but we could continue it online...and they ran with it.

While sitting in class, I kept on getting email updates.  When I finally got around to checking my phone, there were over 30 posts replying to the topic that I had posted online.  My students had posted their final thoughts AND responded to each other.  I was enthralled.  Kids who do not talk on class were talking online and responding to others.

I've been converted.  Love it.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Challenges and Rewards of Technology

 Facebook. Twitter. Edmodo.  IPads. IPods. The list, as well as the uses for such technology, is endless.  However, most of the time, we incorporate none of this into our classrooms.  This is due to a number of reasons, whether they be a school with a bureaucracy that lacks the ability or desire to change from the "norm" of teaching, or to a lack of resources, too many teachers steer clear of using technology into their classroom.  We expect kids to act up on Facebook or Twitter, so we make sure that none of this comes into our rooms.  We anticipate our students abusing webistes and media, so we make sure, in a vain effort to keep the (sometimes slim) grasp on control, ban it from our sight.  What if we didn't?

The most exciting thing that I am doing in my classroom right now is making the shift to a learning environment that puts more of the responsibility on the student as a learner both in the classroom and at home.  In the past, I've stayed away from assigning tasks at home.  My kids didn't do it and it was a headache for me.  I was tired of dealing with the extra grading and paper trail that came with assigning work at home.  Usually, the small amount of homework sat on my desk for a couple days until I got around to grading it and, even then, it hurt grades more than it helped.  What's a girl to do?

Edmodo and Google Docs were the answer.  I knew one thing - I hated paper.  I hated making I make my students work harder.  I no longer take excuses for " no internet access at home."  There's a library in school, as well as in their neighborhood.  I have a computer; they can use that.  By publishing the work online, my life became a tiny bit easier.  I wasn't swarmed by absent students asking for work - I told them to print it out in the library.  Eventually, they stopped asking, but things were still being submitted both online and in class.  The best part?  I make copies for two days a week instead of all 5.

Although I still get the occasional whine of, "I don't have a computer.", students still have access in other ways.  One of my students calls her friend on the phone who googles vocabulary for her because she is invested in my class and me.  Although I do run into issues, life has been make a little easier.  And less stress for a second year teacher pursuing an MSEd is always a good thing.