Yesterday was our building’s 7th and 8th grade orientation/schedule pick-up. While Dee did her 8th grade thing, Ian hung out in my room while I chatted with a few students and some new teachers.
When I came back to my room, Ian had this exact letter for my students up on the SMART Board.
I can’t even express my total delight when I read this:
Hello class of 13/14 today is the first day of your last year of middle school then you will continue on and make your way to high school then collage I have good news I have got 6 I pads for you guys to use during class for your last year I hope you like them if you are wondering whose dog on the screensaver of the smartboard it is mine my awesome son ian has been begging for a long time his name is blue he is a yorkie terrior he is only 3 month old how has your summer been? Type about it and then get some pics on safari then I will get them up on the smartboard for you to present to the class.
Tonight as I thought about the letter, I decided to use it AS IS and have my students edit it on the first day. There’s definitely room for improvement but not bad for a 5th grader who doesn’t know how to capitalize on the keyboard! I have done similar things before with them on Edmodo (read about it here) so I think it will be an effective and interactive kick-off to the year!
Do you ever have ideas that come out of nowhere or get a result that you never expected? Like when a decently planned lesson all of a sudden takes a turn for the best and you are like “Yesssss!! This is why I love my job!””
That was me about three weeks ago when I decided to try to use Edmodo with my Resource Room. My original goal was to get them used to signing into the computer, logging into Edmodo, and typing a reply (hopefully with capitals and punctuation).
Here is what I did:
1. I loaded a picture on Edmodo.
2. I gave these directions: Ask three questions about the picture. Answer two of your classmates’ questions. Use capitals and periods.
3. I set them loose and didn’t fuss about their grammar, punctuation, etc. I was happy to see them responding and interacting and looking at their question words. Almost everyone completed the task in the allotted time.
Class ended and when I returned to my room, my iPhone had 47 notifications from Edmodo!
4. During my prep period, I logged into Edmodo and used the Screen Capture Tool in SMART Notebook and copied their work. All 47 replies.
5. I created some editing icons for punctuation and capitalization and included a smiley face.
Fast-forward to the next day for our Bell Ringer….
6. We edited those sentences and man, were they engaged! My room is a safe place and no one was embarrassed about their mistakes. They gracefully came to the board, made their corrections with my editing icons, or rewarded themselves with a smiley face.
During this activity, I had to give a mini-lesson on how to use the shift key for capital letters and question marks by putting a photo of our same keyboard on the SMART Board. I made students come up and practice “holding down” the shift key and then hitting the question mark.
The best part came when we returned to the lab later that week and I provided another photo prompt with the same directions.
And I heard things like,
“Am I allowed to edit my reply?” (Ummm…absolutely!!!!)
“Oh no! How do I fix that sentence?” (Let me show you!!!)
“Can we do more than two replies?” (Not a problem!!)
“We’re gonna blow up your phone today!” (::::::Insert their evil laughs:::::::)
My kids were excited about writing and they were recognizing their mistakes and they were fixing them!
Imagine their delight when on our second day of “Edmodo Editing” we had twice as many smiley faces!
We’ve done a few more photo prompts. On the fourth one, I told them I would be taking a grade on their work. The easiest way for me to do this was to print the post and all the replies. I cut them into strips and put them in piles. I then gave them a percentage on their use of capitals and punctuation. One girl did three sentences and another did 12 so this was the only fair way to do it. (Grading writing is always tricky for me.) I can also use these work samples for their IEP objectives.
Next we will be moving onto prompts related to short stories we read in class. The first one will be from the true account “Forty-Five Seconds Inside a Tornado.” (Explain how you would stay safe during a tornado. Describe what it would be like to be in a tornado. Give two details you remember about the tornado that hit Waco.)
I see this activity evolving into bigger and better writing and editing experiences throughout the year.
And to think it all happened somewhat accidentally….