If you never thought you’d hear a librarian say, “I love it when the library is crazy and super noisy!”, meet Shannon McClintock Miller. Growing up on a farm among hogs, sheep, and row crops, Shannon spent her childhood in 4H and Future Farmers of America, always knowing she’d one day put her creativity to work as an artist or a teacher. Today, she’s the district teacher librarian at Van Meter Community School, a K-12 school outside of Des Moines, Iowa.
When we chose to spotlight Shannon on National Library Workers Day, we had no idea how much we hit the librarian jackpot. Just recognized as a Library Journal Mover and Shaker and helping to design her district’s new library, Shannon absolutely loves being a teacher librarian and really lights up when talking about being able to make a difference by connecting with students, teachers, parents, and her community—especially with Edmodo. She feels she’s in a unique position to help students discover and follow their passions, and encourages them to find their voice within their community and share it with the world.
The best thing about Shannon and her students using Edmodo in her district’s library? It’s entirely optional. The students are there and using it because they want to, not because they have to. They’re excited to learn and share their lessons with others.
When she’s not advocating for more high-tech tools for her district, giving keynotes at library conferences, or inspiring her students to grow and learn, Shannon likes to spend time with her husband Robbie and their three kids. She also loves listening to music, going to great concerts, reading, cooking, and being with friends.
How did you discover Edmodo?
I discovered Edmodo five years ago as we kicked off our 1:1 laptop initiative at Van Meter. With all this new technology, we were looking for ways to connect our students and teachers (and parents) to each other and other places in the world. I first started using Edmodo with our secondary students, but soon found wonderful ways to connect our elementary students as well.
What problems does Edmodo help you solve?
Edmodo helps me provide a safe, effective, and wonderful place for our school community to connect to each other and the world. It’s a place where people can connect and share ideas through conversations and discussions, as well as a place to share projects and other content they find interesting. Students can also receive assignments, projects, and information from teachers and group leaders.
What surprised you most when you started using Edmodo?
How easy it was to use! It was easy to sign up a class, to get the kids connected, and of course to get the kids using Edmodo. It’s also very simple for parents to connect with students and teachers. From the very start, I love how much my students enjoyed the interface and how it looked like their very own Facebook pages. This gave me a great opportunity to teach them about using social networks and being online in a responsible way.
How has Edmodo helped you amplify a lesson or project?
Last fall, our fifth graders participated in the Global Read Aloud, partnering with Stephen Gagnon’s classroom in Stratham, New Hampshire. As part of the lesson, I read a chapter aloud while the students used their Edmodo Van Meter Stratham Group for a back channel. Our students then logged into their Edmodo Global Read Aloud Small Group on their iPads or Chrome Books.
I’ve never seen a group of students so engaged in not only listening to a book, but also in the discussion that was happening online. They didn’t want to stop! The discussion that took place within Edmodo really showed how the relationship between these two classes is growing. We all need to take a look at how our students are engaged in reading, listening, and writing. Bringing experiences like this to our young people truly brings excitement, engagement, and real life connections. Read more about our lesson here.
What do you use Edmodo for the most?
My students who visit the library or my office use Edmodo most for connecting with each other, and other schools and libraries. One summer, we used it for Summer Reading Groups, which focused on nonfiction books found with our eBook platform, MackinVIA. We not only connected with each other, but also found students in other school summer reading groups who were reading and discussing some of the same books.
Currently, we’re getting ready to kick off a new summer reading program with In This Together Media and their books. We plan to not only connect kids at our school, but others around the world. Anyone who wants to join us will be welcome.
I’m also part of a larger, international project that I’ll be able to announce later this week, so stay tuned—it’s very exciting.
How do you use the apps available on Edmodo?
Our students have really enjoyed creating videos and animated presentations in PowToon. It’s really exciting to watch how the different apps bring out a skill, talent, or passion a student may have been unaware of. Our students have also enjoyed practicing their keyboarding skills with the typing apps.
What do your students like most about Edmodo?
Being connected to each other. Being able to share with each other, and have those conversations about books and schoolwork they might not have face-to-face. Having a voice on a platform like Edmodo really empowers them to do their best, be creative, and collaborate. Edmodo gives them a place to be heard. I’ve also noticed it raises their expectations of themselves.
My students also love the fact that they can connect with others outside of the four walls of the school. That global connection is so important to them, and they realize the similarities and differences in other cultures.
What guidance would you give a teacher trying Edmodo for the first time?
The first things I’d explore are the global connections teachers can make with other teachers and classrooms in other countries. I’d encourage them to connect with others who are using Edmodo, and to browse what they’ve done. Teachers can be so creative with it. And I’ve had success reaching out to the Edmodo Support Community, both through the interface and on Twitter. Everyone’s so eager to help other Edmodo users, whether they are beginners or power users.
Another hidden source of support teachers have when learning a new technology is their students. We are not the only “teachers”—our students are, too! Learning together is so powerful, and this can often be what keeps teachers continuing to use new tools.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from a student?
Always include their voices. They have so much to share, contribute, and add to the world. Developing and encouraging these voices are the reasons I’m a teacher and librarian.
Food: I love pizza and vegetables
Movie:The Sound of Music
TV show: Grey’s Anatomy and Ellen
Music: I love all kinds. A couple of my favorite artists are Zac Brown Band, Dave Matthews, Pearl Jam, and so many others. I LOVE live music!
Book: Looking for Alaska by John Green. My new favorite picture book is The Day The Crayons Quit.
Superpower: Connecting…students, teachers, families, professionals, friends, passions, voices…
Quote: “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” –Gandhi
Three things I could never live without:
Look for a follow up post later this month, where we’ll share more of Shannon’s projects and specific ways you can implement Edmodo in your school library.
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