Changing the Norm

We began our year together talking about norms, and about how we would treat each other as learners.   We ended up creating classroom norms and personal standards to live by:

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We come back to these norms all the time, calling each other out (including me when I don’t turn off my cell phone, which is a norm they wanted to put on that list) and reminding us of what we’re supposed to be doing.

Well, we’ve added some new norms to our classroom recently, based on new things we’re doing together.    And just like the last ones, we brainstormed together and then narrowed down our favorites.  And we’re so good at that.  I wish I’d have recorded the conversations around these norms, because they are such great examples of respectful, civil discourse leading to consensus.  LOVE IT!

Ok, here’s what we’ve got:

Before we started our Literature Circles, we brainstormed how we thought we should work together with our groups.  All ideas were fair game, and they had some great ones!

Before we started our Literature Circles, we brainstormed how we thought we should work together with our groups. All ideas were fair game, and they had some great ones!

Then we narrowed it down to a more reasonable number of norms to follow.  And we do a super job of doing so!

Then we narrowed it down to a more reasonable number of norms to follow. And we do a super job of doing so!

The second group of norms is related to our work on Edmodo (more on exactly what that is sometime soon).  We started out without an specific “rules,” just the basic ones that we follow every day in our room.  But as we got better used to collaborating and working on Edmodo, we started so have some concerns about how it was going.  For me, the best part of this list is that all I had to say was, “I’ve noticed some things about Edmdo lately.  What are you thinking about it?” and they thought of the same things as me!

Edmodo concerns brainstorming list

Edmodo concerns brainstorming list

There was an in-between list where they then proposed norms related to each of these concerns, but I don’t have a picture of it. 😦  Fortunately, I think they all ended up on our final poster:

There are a lot of them, but they were all important and necessary to our learning.

There are a lot of them, but they were all important and necessary to our learning.  My favorite one is “quiet hours.”  I would never have thought of that one, but it’s related to the online aspect of Edmodo and not disturbing each other with notifications while we’re trying to sleep.  SO SMART!

But just like with any expectations, rules or norms, the bid deal is following them.  And we’re doing such an amazing job of that!  I really do have the best bunch of 5th graders around!

How do you use norms in your classroom?  Do you norms look like ours?  If so, how so? Thanks in advance for helping us learn!

Edmodo Have-a-Go

Remember how I told you about Edmodo the other day?  Today’s the day we’re going to try it out!  You will need to use the link here to get to the login page.  While you’re there, look around, and then I want you to consider these things:

1. Can you figure out what to do?  Is it easy?  What are some confusing parts that you have a question about?

2. What kinds of things do you think we could use this to do in our classroom?  Why do you think that would be a good idea?

3. Would you use Edmodo at home?  (if you know that at this point)  Why or why not?

Ok, lastly, I want you to post something.  It can be about anything right now, but I want you to think about adding a question so that people can respond.  This will feel pretty much the same as writing on your blog, only WE will be the only ones who can see it.  This will be a little assessment to let me see how much we figured out and then what I need to do next so we can get started.

GOOD LUCK and have fun learning about Edmodo today!

EDUC 573: Week 2–Edmodo and Twitter

Hopefully it will not come as a surprise when I say that I am a life-long learner.  I feel like it oozes out of my pores, and that if you spend more than 5 minutes with me, you get that vibe.  At least that’s what I hope.

And so I also hope that it’s not a surprise that the learning I’m most interested in these days is related to technology.  I’ve written about some of it already , in the form of how my kids are blogging, and I’m sure that somewhere farther back I explained how I got to the place that I am now with using technology in my classroom (and if I haven’t, I’m sure I’ll decide to write about it!).

This post is the second one for the class I’m taking right now: EDUC 573–Applications of Technology.  It’s a requirement for my Masters; even though my focus is not tech, it’s a topic helpful to every teacher these days.  And even in just two weeks, I’ve already learned about and tried countless things!  I’m beyond excited about “having” to do things that I’m interested in doing anyway.

So that brings me to my goal from last week.  I was most excited about beginning to use my blog “in-the-moment” and pledged that I’d try something on it the next day.  Which I did, indeed.  This week my class reflected on themselves as learners and wrote their own goals, and we used the blog for our ActivActivity in math rotations two different times this week.  And so far I’d say I LOVE IT!  Kiddos loved seeing their work all right there in one place (rather than all spread out on their individual blogs), and I loved it for the same reason.  We could quickly review what we had shared, and compare our thinking.  There have already been several other suggestions for how we might continue to use this together.  Love that my kiddos are such great thinkers, but I love even more that they know I’ll listen to and incorporate their ideas into what we do.  It is, after all, OUR classroom, not just mine. :)

The topic this week was related to becoming familiar with and beginning to use learning management systems in the classroom.  We investigated both Moodle and Edmodo, and considered how they could be used in the classroom to enhance the learning that’s already happening.  And that’s the key, I think, to any tech that you’re using–it should complement the learning goals you already have.  It should be the learning goal, nor should it come first.  I also think that it’s key that whatever you add be easy to use.  And for that reason, I am excited to start playing around with Edmodo in our classroom.

Edmodo is a learning management system that is comparable to “Facebook in the classroom.”  It’s a safe, private, focused way for a class to communicate on a topic, and has countless features useful to teachers, students and even parents.  I think that the first thing I’ll do (after a suggestion from a colleague) is give them some time to see what it can do.  I am sure they’ll figure out alot of the ins and outs very quickly.  Next my plan is to start literature circle conversations on Edmodo.  We’re just about to start them anyway, and it would make sense as a starting place.  I’m excited to see the difference in depth that may happen when kids have a chance to put their thoughts in writing this way.  And as always happens, I’m sure someone will come up with a great idea for what to do with it next.

Aside from the LMS, we also read the article “Taking the Digital Plunge” by Bill Ferriter (2009).  And while I originally focused in on a quote about how quickly finding like-minded learners helped me want to jump in and get my feet wet with tech, this one might even be more meaningful:

Connecting with colleagues online has helped me explore skills and dispositions necessary for
networked cooperation—skills like finding partners beyond borders, making my own thinking transparent,
revising positions on the basis of feedback, accessing valuable information from colearners, and
creating shared content. It has profoundly changed the way I learn.

This week alone, I’ve signed up and am starting to use Edmodo, created the template for my eportfolio, added over 50 links to my delicious account, and planned a Mystery Skype for next week with a teacher in my PLN on Twitter.   I believe these are all powerful tools that used by both me and my students to make connections.

I’m excited to see what continues to come out of this learning I am “having” to do here.  It’s so much fun it doesn’t seem at all like work!

What have you learned this week about technology?  Have you read “Taking the Digital Plunge?”  What did you learn?  Have you tried Edmodo, Twitter, delicious or Mystery Skype?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!