So far my GAME plan is coming along nicely. I have created an account with Edmodo and two separate groups for each of my freshmen classes. Edmodo is a “service [which] gives educators an online space to interact with students in a social learning environment, sharing content and assignments and allowing classes to interact through moderated discussions. It also provides a social network for educators to connect with each other and exchange lesson plans and other educational content” (Schiller, 2011, p. 34). I have contacted another colleague who has used Edmodo to discuss her experience with the site, so that I can trouble shoot problems in advance. The project I have chosen to use with this site is to create several ongoing threads in response to prompts for the novel, Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson. The novel chronicles the freshman year of the protagonist, who is recovering from trauma. So far, I have reviewed the different activities I have used for this novel in the past, and I have either rephrased some discussion questions or written new ones entirely. I have decided that, as the book is broken into four “Marking Periods,” my students will post a total of eight times, twice each “Marking Period.” They will also have to respond to at least one of their classmates’ posts as well.
I do not believe that I will have to modify my action plan at all. This lesson and this technology fit well with the two standards I have chosen, Technology Operations and Concepts and Planning and Designing Learning Environments and Experiences. This is new technology for me as a teacher. I have shied away from using the real Facebook because my students are so immersed in it, and do not always use it appropriately. However, since they seem to like the format and will understand what it means to “post and update” or “respond to a thread,” then this may prove a worthwhile means of expanding the class discussion. In addition, computer conferencing increases the options for participation and “can be an effective support for the development of creative thinking skills” (Cennamo, Ross, & Ertmer, 2009, p. 71). Incorporating online threaded discussions allows students an easier means of participating and provides them with the opportunity to really think about a response and not blurt out an answer (Cennamo, Ross & Ertmer, 2009). As they will undoubtedly face threaded discussions in college courses, it is worthwhile for me to introduce this format to them now. “As students enter college, their familiarity with social media could mean that integrating new technology into the class- room is not just a novel feature but an essential aspect of curricula” (Schiller, 2011, 35). This is a learning environment and experience they will most definitely encounter again in the future.
Thus far, I have learned how to set up a group in Edmodo and have looked into the different open groups they have, for example one devoted to Language Arts topics. I know how to post an update and how to have my students join the correct group. I have also learned that an internet based project will hold my students’ interests. Once they are issued their iPads in January, I will ask them to download the Edmodo app, that is, if this project goes well. That will give them quicker access to the site.
I have several new questions, some which cannot be answered until after this project is complete. Will this kind of a project help my students to look more closely at the literature they are reading? Will they pay more attention to literary elements if they know they will have to post work their classmates will read? Will they be more engaged? Is the number of times I am requiring for their participation enough? Too little? My last questions revolve around assessment. There are have several school-wide rubrics were are required to use. Certainly one of them will align with this project, so they will be my first choice for assessing their work. But these rubrics do not convert to a grade. How many points will this be worth? How do I gauge appropriate participation? Should I take only aspects of the school-wide rubric, add elements of my won, and use that one instead? Should I attempt a Standards Based grade, as that is the direction of the entire country?
I am anxious to begin this project as I like to try new technology each year. Also, as any teacher does, I like to see my students truly engaged in their work. Last year, I was successful with several projects. Hopefully, I will be with this one as well. I welcome any answers to my questions and any suggestions that will help the success of this project.
Cennamo, K., Ross, J. & Ertmer, P. (2009). Technology integration for meaningful classroom use: A standards-based approach. (Laureate Education, Inc., Custom ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.
Schiller, K. (2011). High-tech classrooms. Information Today, 28(8), 34-35.