Prospecting For Treasure

Always prospecting for the next treasure of an idea.

Learning With Storybird and Edmodo

I have a really good student teacher, who is now teaching most of the day.  During the next two weeks, he will be teaching full time, and then he moves on to a different grade level, in a different school,  in a different town.  It occurred to me earlier this week, as he was teaching a social studies lesson, and I was working with a small group in the hall, that having two people in the classroom, is just about the only way to accomplish all the interventions, small group support, and individual attention that a teacher needs to provide each day.  While he has been teaching, I have been able to make up work with students who have been absent, run small groups to share writing, and meet more frequently with students who need the extra support.  It also gives me extra time to just connect and have fun with kids.

This extra time meant I was able to explore the website Storybird with a group of students.  Storybird is a digital story telling website.  The website is very easy to use.  The first time we visited the website we spent time just reading other people’s published “Storybirds.”  The next time we got together we looked at the tutorial, and then we plunged right in.  My students are collaborating, and their first task was to agree on a picture to use for their first page.  As soon as they made that choice, they were provided with a large selection of other artwork by that same artist.  From there on, it was simple.  Just drag the picture you  want to use onto the page.  Then write about it.

I do have one caution.  When you go to the Storybird Homepage it says “Start a Storybird Now”.  Be sure to log in or register first.  Don’t make the mistake I did, and just begin the story.  We saved our work, but because we were not logged in, we lost it.  Fortunately, the kids had such a good time, that they have forgiven me for that one.

Students carry on a book discussion using Edmodo.

I have another group working on Edmodo.  This group is made up of some very strong readers, some of whom are at least 2 years above grade level.  Edmodo is a closed social networking site, that looks similar to Facebook.  In fact, when we returned from our winter break in early January, I discovered that some of the kids had been on it over vacation, and were using it like Facebook.  Students access the website with a unique code, which keeps the discussion private.  Edmodo is a very cool website and the kids love getting on there.  We have been using it to discuss a book we are reading. When we started the book, I was able to introduce them to the author and build background knowledge by providing them with links to websites.  There is a component for making assignments and grading, as well as conducting a poll.  I think it would be an even better platform for reading and discussing non-fiction topics. 

We started out strong with some thoughtful discussions, and students soon figured out that they could shape our conversation  by posing their own questions and thoughts for discussion.  We have had several talks about courtesy to one another, and the importance of staying focused on our reading discussion.  The problem that I have been having is that one or two students are being very thoughtful in their comments, while others are being silly with comments like “Yeah, what she said.”  “Me too!”  or “Ditto”.  This week my student teacher and I told them, if they weren’t going to use Edmodo responsibly, we would go back to paper and pencil.  It has improved some, but I am looking for ideas on how to use this great website, and keep our time productive. 

Please tell me what has worked for you.  How have you used Edmodo?  What other websites do you recommend for small group work?

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February 14, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , ,

4 Comments »

  1. I have implemented Edmodo in my science classroom and so far it has been a hit. It provides an opportunity for students to share their opinions on some of the values related to science. To make it productive for my eighth graders, I have had to incorporate a grade into it regarding the quality of their responses. So far that has worked and immediately got rid of their goofiness. Also, I delete anything goofy on a daily basis and had conversation with the responder. We have not been doing this too long so now I am wondering if I am just in the honeymoon stage.

    Comment by FKaiser | February 15, 2010 | Reply

  2. FKaiser,
    Thank you for your comment. Having more accountability for their responses in the form of a grade, might be the solution. I think that would work with this group. We will give it a try. I really enjoy working with Edmodo, and I know the kids like it, so I want it to be successful.

    Comment by iageode | February 16, 2010 | Reply

  3. I use edmodo with my 5th grade classes. I use it as a class portal for basically everything from posting/submitting assignments, polls, “ticket out the door” quick responses, posting links, etc.
    I do one activity when the students are learning about creating effective Internet searches where the students each can create 3 questions. Then they must reply for the remaining time to other students’ questions with the best search and/or fix and improve searches posted by other students with an explanation of their changes/suggestions. I have found that limiting their own posts and requiring them to respond to others’ posts and responses helps facilitate a discussion instead of a posting frenzy.
    I love the idea of using it for small group book discussions, though. I’ll have to try that with some of my students.
    A website I would recommend for small groups – I have just started experimenting with Wallwisher for group brainstorming (and I’m sure it can be used for much more), but I love it so far.

    Comment by KMakatche | February 16, 2010 | Reply

  4. Thank you for you for the great ideas, KMakatche. I have used Wallwisher several times for the whole class to comment on a particular topic/question, but I hadn’t thought about using it for a small group discussion. I think that is a really great idea, and I am definitely going to try that. I do think that it might be a good idea to structure their time more, so they have time to pose questions, and then respond to others questions/comments. Thank you.

    Comment by iageode | February 17, 2010 | Reply


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