Throughout July, the Edmodo blog will feature EdmodoCon 2016 speakers. For our seventh installment, meet the four panelists of The “Supporting the Whole Student” panel: Kathleen Dunne, School Counselor and GSA Advisory, Chassie Selouane, Teacher, Scott Meile, English Teacher, and Fredy Alexander Duque Sánchez, Tech Specialist. This panel includes short presentations from the speakers on how they use Edmodo to meet the unique needs of their students for more than just academics. Be sure to register for EdmodoCon to catch this exciting panel discussion.
Briefly tell us about yourself. What’s your role and where do you work?
Kathleen Dunne: I have been a middle school counselor for almost three decades, at the Oceanside Middle School, in New York. Prior to that I worked with New York State as a substance abuse specialist in the New York City Schools. I am a licensed Mental Health Counselor and am currently pursuing my doctorate in Social Work. And for the record, I LOVE working with ‘tweens’, nothing beats their enthusiasm and creativity!
Chassie Selouane: I have a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre & Education, a Master’s of Education Degree – Curriculum Instruction with a Specialization in ESL Education, a PMC in ESL Education, a PMC in Instructional Leadership & currently amidst writing my dissertation and I am a dual candidate for a PHD in ESL and PHD in Instructional Leadership. I am very blessed to be The Director of Learning & an Assistant Principal at Sharjah American International School- Dubai Campus. I am a contributing writer for Teach UAE Magazine and Educational Journal Middle East. Three unique facts that I am very proud of is that I am a member of the KHDA Visual Harvesting Team, a former international pageant queen and I am the only candidate to hold three individual category nominations for the 2014, 2015 & 2016 GESS/Global Educational Awards. 2014 finalist for Community Citizenship, Innovation in Education Award. 2015 finalist for Outstanding Contribution in Education Award, Outstanding Use of ICT in the classroom, Outstanding Contribution in Education, and Innovation in Education Awards. 2016 a finalist in Community Citizenship, Innovation in Education and Outstanding Contribution to Education. I was extremely honored to win the 2016 Global Education Awards Judges Commendation Award.
Scott Meile: I have been a Middle School English Teacher over the last 11 years at William Davies Middle School in Mays Landing, NJ.
Fredy Alexander Duque Sánchez: I work at BNC Centro Colombo Manizales as a tech specialist of technology applied to the English Classroom and I am studying applications design since I want to reach the further generations.
How did you find Edmodo, and what inspired you to apply to be an EdmodoCon speaker?
KD: Our middle school uses iPads and one of our preferred platforms has been Edmodo. As the advisor for our middle school’s Gay Straight Alliance, I set up an Edmodo group so that students who wanted to connect with us could do so, online, through a safe, monitored platform. I believe my own expectations were exceeded, and have been in awe of how my students have supported and encouraged each other. Thought it was worth sharing.
CS: My story of using Edmodo actually started halfway around the world, in Virginia, with my former college suitemate Adrian. We were looking for a way to link her class in Virginia and my class in Dubai. Her technology coach at her school suggested Edmodo. We talked about the idea and I signed up with Edmodo with the idea of an International shared classroom. While the shared classroom idea never really took off, I kept exploring Edmodo on my own, and quickly fell in love with the program. I soon began using Edmodo little by little in my English Language classes. The first year of Edmodo was trial and error and we worked on developing a set structure. Before too long, things just clicked and copy books, worksheets, quizzes, journaling, and writing were replaced with Edmodo. Mrs. Chassie’s Kids Virtual Classroom was born, three years ago and we have not looked back! We have changed and developed our classroom into something that not only encourages students to learn, but also supports communication and citizenship development as well.
I applied to speak at Edmodo because of the benefits my students have received from our classroom and to share what I have learned over the past few years about how to structure my Edmodo classroom.
Edmodo allowed my students in 5AA classroom to become a part of the virtual world. Edmodo hosted our virtual classroom. Every two week cycle students were responsible for answering Discussion topics related to topics discussed in our class and had to submit various assignments, projects and assessments. My students are all non-native English speakers. In our Edmodo classroom my students were required to use correct grammar, mechanics and punctuation and to give thoughtful and creative, critical thinking answers to the questions, discussions and the general virtual class discussion. Through this digital interaction the students of 5AA began to use 21st Century Learning Skills to build an effective learning community within their own classroom, as well as increasing their written English skills. As teachers we often talk about using Professional Learning Communities for our own development but with the use of Edmodo I was able to effectively create an effective Student Learning Community that promoted and enhanced learning and engagement of all students in the class. Our only rules of the classroom revolved around TR2UST (Tolerance, Respect, Responsibility, Uniqueness, Success and Teamwork). Students took control of their own learning, and gained real life experience by pacing themselves on the set two week deadline and completing the assignments as they chose, with work submitted after the due date not being accepted.
All students who participated in my Edmodo classroom showed an improvement on Measured Academic Progress (MAP) standardized testing, in each term.
If properly designed your virtual classroom can remove the walls of your classroom and extend into the real world and outside of the traditional school building. A virtual Edmodo classroom if well designed can not only be engaging learning opportunities, but an opportunity to support and develop students not only as independent learners but as responsible global citizens.
SM: As a teacher and a coach I have always been on the lookout for ways to bridge the gap in the classroom and on the field. A Talent 21 Grant was issued to our school in 2010 and the exposure to the growing reach of digital educational tools was just in its infancy. Finding Edmodo was something organic and utilized collaboration between students and the teacher, so I brought it into the classroom like any coach would bring a new tool to their team. Edmodo has changed our classroom, it has brought us closer together and has provided us a way of communicating that allowed digital explorers to meet with the digital natives. Using Edmodo and being an Edmodocon attendee brought so many cool ideas that other teachers were exploring using the platform and inspired me to gain more insight into my students’ lives. I applied to Edmodocon because over the course of the last two years I have seen a significant jump of improvement with connecting with my students. I have noticed that students come to me with personal problems, issues at home, and have had more honest and meaningful academic conversations because of Edmodo and the connections we have made using the platform. The personal connection we have using Edmodo has given me insight into what inspires the individual student, what their needs are, and how I can meet each child’s needs. Our classroom goal developed at the beginning of the year is to understand that being a well rounded person is just as important as having academic success.
FADS: Our institution was looking for ways of improving the use of technological resources in the classroom. So we piloted Edmodo as that way to enhance our teaching practices. Now, Edmodo is a must in every single classroom of our Binational Center.
Our back to school campaign will revolve thematically around explorers. What kind of explorers do you think your presentation will resonate with most and why?
KD: The Moonwalker resonates best…saw the need to create connections and a sense of community for my students in the sexual minority. Creating an online community for those students and their allies was critical to building in essential protective factors for this most at risk population within our schools. We often talk about empowering the ‘silent majority’ but they are also the ‘invisible majority.’ Through Edmodo these students have been able to demonstrate their support in a more visible and powerful way. This type of dialogue is essential to creating a climate of safety and acceptance.
CS: I hope that my presentation will resonate with The adventurer, the Climber, The Voyager and the Moon Walkers. Adventure starts with just one step and I hope that the success that my students have found will inspire adventures at any level of their journey.
SM: For the Mountain Climbers out there who are open to changing, are open to developing new ways of connecting with students, and are open to creating a collaborative learning environment my presentation will resonate most. Each one my classrooms is a partnership forged with 20 some odd kids from every possible background and there has to be a personal commitment made to getting every student to buy in, to forge ahead, and to take personal ownership of their learning. We are largely successful because we develop a personal understanding about each other, we get to see each others failures, and share in our triumphs no matter how large or small! We go on this journey together and we strive for the successes but learn and grow from our failures.
FADS: All of them, since learning is limitless. You can never learn enough of anything. Just seek, be curious, ask, inquire, double check and never cease in the quest for knowledge.
What’s the best piece of advice you have for teachers and administrators who are just getting started with edtech or blended learning tools?
KD: Don’t be intimidated! Like any new skill set, be patient and take your time. Have some fun with it!
CS: All educators should strive to be lifelong learners, and lead students and colleagues by examples and modeling. Knowledge is an invaluable tool that has no limitations, and when paired with a positive attitude and hard work anything is possible and no expectation is too high. Always be willing to try technology, don’t be afraid to try something different and unique. Chassie’s personal motto is “Attitude is contagious.”
SM: Find what works best for you and be unafraid to use, manipulate, and develop your classroom around that tool. Every tool has advantages and disadvantages, but when you can develop a culture in the classroom that allows students to understand learning outcomes and the advantages of blended learning tools, it allows for more open and meaningful communication. It also creates an environment that is fair, practical, and most importantly pragmatic for both students and teachers. What blended learning tools work best for me are the ones that give me meaningful feedback and allows me to meet the needs of each individual student, shape my teaching, and develop personalized goals.
FADS: To make sure what are the needs of their corresponding classroom and students and to trust platforms such as Edmodo that is improving everyday to have it all just in one place.
What’s the one thing you hope your audience takes away from your EdmodoCon presentation?
KD: Adolescents may or may not listen to us, but they truly care what their peers are thinking. Edmodo can be a powerful, safe forum for creating much needed positive connections. Kids are amazing if you give them a safe space to be themselves.
CS: I hope they walk away with the willingness to try something new with their students, and encourage them to take control of their learning and help build a program that is successful for their stakeholders.
SM: That there is a passion to teaching, that there is an understanding that needs to be developed, and though we want students to strive for academic success we most importantly should be hoping that they are well balanced and complete people. We need students that are tough, open minded, determined, and most importantly compassionate for their community no matter how large or small. In this digital age, we must continue to remind our students that our experiences in school are mostly made up by the relationships we develop as people.
FADS: The best practices to tell your students that there is always hope for every single one of us. That even the longest tunnel has a beginning and has an end, and there is always something better awaiting for you on the other side.