We’re busting out of this town!

Posted: September 29, 2011 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

So, I’ve been wanting to get my students participating in learning with other students outside our school walls. Last year students had individual blogs and we worked on a little this and that. This year I am once again committing myself, and my class by extension, to more outside-our-walls experiences.

One of the first things we are doing is participating in the Global Read Aloud project (the Tuck Everlasting version). I have to say I was hesitant to participate because we already have Tuck in our curriculum at the end of the year where it is connected to some projects that I can’t really move. However, I decided to go ahead and read it out loud now and then have the students read it independently later. It is such a well-crafted and intricate book that I think we will be able to talk about all the hints and foreshadowing when we read it a second time, since we will know the plot already. At least that’s what I’m saying now.

Anyway, we have joined the Edmodo group for the project (I will really have to write about Edmodo too. I am loving it.) and just finished the first week of reading and commenting. A few of the kids are really enthusiastic contributors, others are lurkers. There are so many people in the group it’s a little overwhelming sometimes. One of the things we have done is made glogs on glogster (also a great too) and put them into the Edmodo group. This is now super easy to do as there is an “edmodo this” button on glogster.

One student came in and announced that she had a great conversation with someone about Tuck online the night before, “she’s my new best online friend! We’re going to watch the same move on the weekend.” Another student volunteered that she had been having a conversation with one person and then someone else joined in. Then on Friday we skyped with a class outside Atlanta, Georgia who is also participating. The kids had a great time talking about the book with other students.

I will be the first to admit the conversation is not very high level at the moment. It is a first taste of participating in an academic community that is beyond our walls. It is purposeful, age-appropriate, engaging, safe, and global.

We’re on our way.

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Comments
  1. maggie says:

    Feeling confident the individual student participants are in a safe space online? I guess it is the digital immigrant in me, but I worry about that regardless of platform. And I am also curious with the parents- did you have to bring them up to speed prior to launching this. How burdensome (or not) do you find it getting them in the loop (or not)? You are fearless and your students are lucky you so easily walk in this brave new world!

    • mseiteljorg says:

      Maggie,
      I do feel confident in Edmodo as a safe space. To join a group, students must have a code that is given to them by a teacher. Once people have joined, teachers can lock the group so that no more people can join. Students may not send private messages to anyone other than a teacher. I made the accounts for all my students and know passwords should that be necessary. There are many student groups participating in the Global Read Aloud, and I am sure I have not read all the comments as the stream sometimes gets very crowded. I have seen nothing even remotely troublesome. Certainly there are many boring comments, but nothing problematic.

      In addition, I sent out a letter to parents in advance of this experiment. I outlined all planned online activities (both returning favorites and new adventures), gave educational back-up for them, and expressed my enthusiasm for our digital experiences. All parents signed the letter and returned it. At back to school night I showed parents what Edmodo looks like and gave a brief over view of some key features. I know from feedback that some students are showing their parents around various online spaces that we use, which is exciting. I love to hear about the students being the experts. I do not find it too burdensome; I expect that I should be able to explain the educational benefit of major class activities.

      Although I would say I am far from fearless in many ways, I am completely comfortable with falling down in the classroom and therefore willing to try a lot of ideas that have great potential to be spectacular in one way or another.

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