Friday, October 26

Travis Allen: The 21st Century Student

I was fortunate to have been able to attend the MassCue Technology Conference at Gillette Stadium earlier this week.  While I didn't experience any "Tom Brady sightings", it was a memorable conference nonetheless. I have pages of notes (digital of course) that I need to review and organize to share with you in a future post. For now, I’d like to rave about one of the keynote speakers that addressed the crowd of 1,800 captivated educators. Rarely have I ever been impressed by a keynote speaker but this college student (yes, he is quite young) was amazingly blunt, enthusiastic, creative, smart, etc.; I want to adopt him.

Travis Allen is currently a junior at Kennesaw State University in Georgia.  Frustrated by the disconnect between students and schools (fueled when his teacher told him that his smart phone was not an educational device), he started his own company, The iSchool Initiative, while still in high school. According to Allen, social media has given him and his generation "a voice." He went on to say that they are digital learners, and that schools, often working on an outdated-antiquated model, are killing their students’ creativity.  He emphasized that for technology integration to be successful in schools, three things must be in place; mindset, infrastructure and of course, funding.  Allen questions why schools spend money on books explaining that he has used eBooks throughout his college career. What I really liked about Allen was that he isn’t just complaining; he's proactive in his passion to eliminate the disconnect between students and schools.

I encourage you to read more on Travis Allen and his initiatives afterall, he speaks for the generation of students that sit in our classrooms; our digital natives.

Thursday, October 18

Getting Social With Edmodo

Edmodo is a social networking tool designed specifically for educators. Using Edmodo, educators can easily connect with other like-interested educators to collaborate, share ideas, and resources. Edmodo can also be used by teachers to engage their students in meaningful-online discussions.

For those of you at DS that would like to experience what Edmodo is all about, please be sure to create a "Teacher" account ( ) and join us on the Experience Edmodo discussion forum. Please refer back to my email (on HS News) for the GROUP CODE that you'll need to join the Experience Edmodo group. (For security purposes I did not include it within this post.) If you're having difficulty with this please let me know.

Linda Lannon, Spanish teacher and Department Head of the World Language Department at DSHS, has used Edmodo with several of her classes. Below, you will find a brief write up by Linda as she shares with us her experience using Edmodo.

This past summer, I used Edmodo to administer and assess the AP Spanish Language summer reading and listening assignments.  I posted the assignments which were to read an article or listen to a podcast (both for which I provided links).  Students were required to comment about the articles and specifically answer questions that I had posted.  They were then required to comment on two of their classmates' postings. 

It was an excellent way to engage all students and allowed students to pick and choose the articles that most interested them.  I gave them ten options from which they had to choose six to complete.  Students who are normally quiet in the classroom had a voice and appeared comfortable participating in the online forum, as evidenced by the quantity and quality of their posts.  The only problem I found with Edmodo is that once the students completed what was required of them, they did not return to the site to read what others had posted after them.  I would include that task in the future to mirror other online forums (fora).

For assessments, I used a rubric similar to one used by the College Board for writing tasks.  It consisted of three categories:  Task Completion, Topic Development and Language Use.

I also used Edmodo this year for several homework assignments that required students to post their opinions.  I also made a survey using Edmodo. The next task that I’d like to investigate is how to use Edmodo to create (online) quizzes.

In addition, I’ve “joined” an Edmodo group of Foreign Language Dept. Heads in Eastern Mass for sharing documents, insights, and websites.