This is a guest post from Sandy McConnell, a 5th grade teacher at Bagby Elementary. Originally published on Mrs. McConnell’s Blog, she shares her perspective of StoryLines, an app recently developed and released by Edmodo. Want to see yourself on the Edmodo Blog? Submit your story.
I co-teach a class of 36 fifth graders with Sheila Monger, our inclusive education teacher. (Some would call her an SDC teacher, but she would not.) Since we’re in room numbers 7 and 8, we call ourselves Team Seight. If you were to drop by when we’re all in the same room, you wouldn’t know which students are officially assigned to each teacher. There’s so much interaction. Edmodo has been a great tool for connecting our students in authentic ways, and for preparing them for the world of social media in a safe and controlled environment.
Our students are working on a project using Edmodo’s StoryLines Pages app and creating a Kindness Matters book for one another. The project integrates kindness, one of our school’s themes this year, and is a collaborative classroom activity that teaches the power of compliments and encouragement.
Inspired by the story All Good Things by Sister Helen Mrosla, StoryLines Pages asks each student to express (in one sentence) something unique that he appreciates about his classmate. Our most interesting findings as we work on this project have been:
- I can get a quick snapshot of who has and has not worked on their pages using the status page.
- As I review students’ pages, I’m able to see common and recurring mistakes, trends, and areas in need of more focus. For example, many kids are misusing the contraction “you are”, spelling it “your”. I also noticed several of my students had difficulty writing in the first person, present tense.
- It’s been extremely rewarding to read the comments my students wrote about their classmates. I’ve not had to check the “It is not nice” box when reviewing a comment. Overwhelmingly, the students really had surprisingly nice things to say about each other.
- One of my students on a 504 has significant challenges focusing, and will often sit and stare into space. I was very worried about what other students would say about him, since from a 10-year-old’s perspective, this may appear odd. I was delighted to see compliments such as, “You respect others;”, “You are smart and funny;” ”You are a good listener;” and “You are good at sitting still when others are talking.” None of these things are untrue, and I loved seeing how they took a behavior that can be difficult and were able to see the positive in it. I learned a lesson from these kids—as I do most days!
- The app is incredibly easy for me to use, and even easier for the kids. When a student makes the same errors repeatedly, I can save time by copying and pasting my comments. It’s also helped identify problem areas.
- I’ve had a few students think they could make the same comment to multiple classmates using copy and paste, but since I review the comments by each student in one sitting, it’s easy to catch this and tell students to be original and specific.
After the students finish their compliments, each one will receive a published book specific to themself, as well as a link to share outside of Edmodo. I’m eagerly awaiting the smiles when the students read the kind words their classmates wrote about them.
As a parent, I know I would cherish seeing the kindness extended toward my child through such a project. As a teacher of students with a wide range of abilities, it was great to find an activity that all students could participate in equally. The StoryLines Pages activity also served as a valuable formative assessment tool, giving me insights into students’ needs for extra attention. Finally, it was just sweet—and at this time of year in fifth grade, we can all use a little sweet!