Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Digital Book Clubs: 1:1 classroom with Edmodo!

So- my first two years of teaching I was a bilingual, self-contained teacher and I taught every subject in two languages.  To say the least, I was cramped for time and this caused me to feel that I was only able to narrowly skim the surface area of each subject with my students.  I felt like I was inadequately preparing them for middle school.  My third year was a relief though, as I was given the opportunity to focus on one subject, Science!  I was excited that I would be a "Science teacher" and have the chance to delve deeply into the material with my students!  I would be able to hone in on this very engaging subject matter and put my creativity and skills to work creating interactive, hands-on lessons thus making curriculum better for my bilingual kiddos.  I have a natural interest and knowledge base for Science, so I felt like the teaching part would be so much more enjoyable for me.
Well, it was good while it lasted : ).... My fourth year of teaching, I was told I would be teaching Language Arts.  My first thought:  BLAH!... but, as I am a very adaptable, easy-going person, I knew I had no other option but to give it my best shot.

I was pleasantly surprised as the year began... the read alouds were rather enjoyable and my students seemed to get very into them.  I also did, as I read I remember holding back tears a few times in the different books we were reading.  So, all in all, I gained a new appreciation for Language Arts and actually started to enjoy it quite a bit.  I was not the most avid reader in school, so I did feel like I gained a completely new appreciation for reading by teaching LA in 5th grade!  I also came to realize that I could be creative with LA as well.  Once we started using our tablets, we were able to integrate technology into the LA curriculum, which really drew some of my students in and helped them to become more responsible about their work. 

 One thing we do in 5th grade Language Arts is student book clubs.  Again, not a big LA teacher, I was pretty nervous about doing book clubs with my students.  My uneasiness about it was confirmed at the beginning of the year when I put a few of my students into book clubs and I felt like it was a complete fail.  They were not engaged, and they were playing around more than they were getting work done.  So I abandoned book clubs and went back to guided reading until later in the year. 

The second attempt went much better, as we eased into the book clubs instead of me just letting them run with it.  We talked about guidelines for book clubs, we watched a clip on a model book club and discussed what we saw, the students wrote their own constitutions, and they first practiced with a short book.  When I felt that they were ready, they received their chapter books.  

I used Edmodo to help manage the books clubs and students were able to access Edmodo on their tablets.  The part that they really enjoyed most, was that I created small groups on Edmodo for each book club.  It was the students' responsibility to log on to Edmodo from their tablets at the end of their book club session and post their book club assignment for the next meeting.  I also used the small groups to post notes that the students would need for their discussions that day.  The Samsung tablets came in handy when I would have different notes and pointers on the Activboard that the students would need to focus on that day.  Students used their tablets to take pictures of the Activboard notes and would display those notes for their group during their meeting time.  I would circulate around to the different groups and formatively assess the students on their discussion abilities.
We ran books clubs most days out of the week for a few months and at the end of that time, I assessed the students on three different days based on discussion criteria that I gave them ahead of time:  referring to text evidence, asking valid questions, and responding to others' comments.

I felt the second time around that book clubs in my class functioned much better!  I think the combination of giving lots of modeling and practice for students and using Edmodo helped the students to take charge of their own book clubs.  I loved seeing them come into class excited to read and discuss with their peers!

This coming year, I will be focusing more on using Edmodo to allow student discussion of their books outside of the classroom- goals, goals, goals...

                                          Students began in their groups by writing their own constitution.
Writing their own constitution so they could take ownership of their behavior and effort.
Dry run:  first day functioning under their new constitution... practicing discussion skills with a shorter picture book.

Ridiculously in love with post-its for recording thinking while she's reading!

This was their idea! :  using their tablets to take a picture of the activboard that had different notes that they could keep in mind while working in their book clubs.  Then they laid out their tablets so they could see all the notes at once!

Deep discussion!

screenshots of how students and I used Edmodo to post assignments for
Book Clubs...

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