Monday, December 3, 2012

Digital Class

There is no doubt that society is currently in a push to take advantage of technology and "go green" in an attempt to protect to some degree the earth's climate.This year in my classes I have attempted to go paperless. Assignments are sent out electronically, students  complete the assigned tasks and send the information to me through email or various other methods.

Rationale for the Paperless Classroom

I believe there are three major benefits to creating a "green," or paperless, classroom. Going paperless in the classroom reduces paper waste, which means that less energy is used in the making of paper and that fewer natural resources are destroyed.

It also creates a conservation mind-set in students and educates them on related issues. It creates "teachable" moments that often carry over into the home. Creating a paperless classroom also allows the teacher to introduce new technologies to students.

Program Highlights

One of the many IPAD applications that has allowed my classes to make this transition to a paperless classroom is the program EDMODO. Throughout my social studies lessons I have found ways to incorporate the social networking site to disperse assignments, spark conversations, and generate a positive platform of sharing information.

Edmodo provides teachers and students a secure place to connect and collaborate, share content and educational applications, and access homework, grades, class discussions and notifications. The program encourages a variety of communication in a variety of methods.

One of the things I tell my students when I initially introduce them to Edmodo is to embrace positive communication. I challenge my students to give up their typical ways of expressing themselves on other social sites and I encourage them to embrace positive communication. My class uses Edmodo as a ‘safe’ Facebook. The kids like the no drama zone, and the fact that they can send a message to me or the group and get an answer about just about anything. We have used it for current events assignments, summaries but my favorite is the poll.

The application has opened up an entirely new world for my students. They are learning that they can communicate through Edmodo in a way that can be constructive and thought provoking. As with many things, students need to know and understand what is expected of them. In particular, I use Edmodo to list assignments, answer questions, and communicate with parents. What I like most is that I can add assignments to the calendar that are automatically listed as either an assignment or an upcoming event. Assignments have past due dates while events simply remind the student there’s something due.

Dialogue and Reaching More Students

Social networking can be an incredible tool when it comes to reaching and engaging those "hard to reach" students. For those who are very shy and find it difficult to contribute to class discussions, being able to participate in a web-based environment can provide enough of a "veil of protection" so that child feels comfortable enough to open up. Contact of this kind is far less intimidating than face-to-face discussions. Dialogue becomes more fruitful when everyone participates, and when given clear guidelines for classroom discussions, students are able to express themselves in ways they did not feel comfortable doing so in class.

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