And I liked it!!
When our district made a mandatory move from Edmodo to Schoology, I was frustrated. I had spent a few years building my Edmodo library and was happy there. I didn’t want to move!
Feeling overwhelmed with all the other changes going on in our building, I decided that I was only going to do the bare minimum – post my homework – as we would be required to do during the 2nd semester.
Well, as you can see from above….I didn’t hold myself to that and Schoology has become an important part of my day…every day.
I have been struggling with two things in particular lately.
1) How to best use the limited technology that I have available to me
2) How to increase my students’ vocabulary
I am trying at all costs to avoid: looking words up in a glossary, copying definitions, matching words and definitions on a test, and completing worksheets to teach vocabulary. It’s boring, it’s ineffective, and I’m not seeing results.
Vocabulary instruction like this does not help kids make connections and any memorization that may occur…simply doesn’t last.
I wanted something authentic, interactive, and hopefully technology-based for use in our small, fairly outdated computer lab.
I spent over two hours researching ideas the other night and ended up with way too many of the same old ideas, nothing that I envisioned as I started out, and a headache.
Feeling overwhelmed and guilty I wasted two hours of my night during the busiest time of year, I took a break and came back to the computer after dinner with a plan in mind.
I used the “Polls” on Edmodo to create 6 vocabulary-based questions for our upcoming novel, Stargirl.
I chose some particular vocabulary words that I knew I would need to explain to my students as we were reading the novel: mesa, saguaro, ukulele, cactus, canyon, and porcupine. Students also had to understand a little about Arizona and where it was located.
Here are my six questions: (and their votes)
What is a “saguaro”? Research the word and make your choice. Find a picture and insert it into a Word document. Be sure to label the picture.
- a type of boat 0 vote(s)
- a type of flower 0 vote(s)
- a type of cactus 75%, 3 vote(s)
- a type of car 25%, 1 vote(s
Which of these would not be found in Arizona? Find pictures of the three found in Arizona.
- canyon 0 vote(s)
- mesa 14.29%, 1 vote(s)
- grass 57.14%, 4 vote(s)
- cactuses 28.57%, 2 vote(s)
What animal has quills? Find a picture of this animal.
- a shark 0 vote(s)
- a muskrat 0 vote(s)
- a porcupine 100%, 7 vote(s)
- an octopus 0 vote(s)
Which state does not touch Arizona? Find a map that shows this.
- Utah 0 vote(s)
- California 12.5%, 1 vote(s)
- Texas 87.5%, 7 vote(s)
- New Mexico 0 vote(s)
What instrument is a “ukelele” related to? Find a picture.
- a trumpet 0 vote(s)
- a guitar 100%, 7 vote(s)
- a piano 0 vote(s)
- a harmonica 0 vote(s)
What is a road runner? Find a picture of a famous one and a real one.
- a type of internet service 0 vote(s)
- a very fast bird 100%, 5 vote(s)
- a type of race 0 vote(s)
- a car part 0 vote(s)
I reminded my students how to enter a search term in Google, locate an image, and create a mini-poster using Word. We’ve been working on computer skills lately, so this was good practice of the steps for inserting a picture and formatting the picture.
The students had to answer the poll questions while doing their research. Because there was no “right answer” given, students were not as likely to share answers with their neighbors.
Students had two windows open on Firefox and a Word document open. They had to turn in the assignment on Edmodo when they were finished.
It may not seem like a lot, but for my students this was a big task. These kids were multi-tasking and learning.
When we return from break, they will share their posters on the SMARTBoard.
So, this is not the most traditional use of a poll, but it provided enough motivation and variety for my students to keep it interesting and help them learn the vocabulary.
Here is what I loved about this activity:
- Students didn’t touch a single worksheet during this lesson.
- Students were not asked to memorize or write a definition.
- Instead, students found their own definitions by researching.
- Students had to use some logic and reasoning skills to eliminate and determine search terms.
- Students practiced computer skills (Word, Google search, and Edmodo)
- Students now have a visual for when we start the novel after break. Students will share their products on the SMARTBoard when they return.
- Students were engaged for two 40-minute periods in an authentic learning activity.
- Students have made meaningful connections with half a dozen words that they had little prior knowledge of.
- I am inspired to create more activities similar to this one.
How do you teach vocabulary? Do you have some ideas that will meet my goal for authentic vocabulary instruction? Share your ideas with the comment link at the top of this post.
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….