Friday, September 28, 2012

Lessons from a Llama & John M

As you may or may not know, America has been homeschooling the two littles this year. As such, there has been a lot more flexibility and creative structures to "schooling." Having worked for education technology groups for the past 22 years, I thought we should use more technology with the kids.

Recently we signed the home academy up to Edmodo. I wasn't sure America was going to buy into it, but it has become a great resource to manage, organize, share and deliver open source resources. Additionally, it is great for creating daily assignments tailored for each of the two kids. I especially like finding great resources by age or grade capability and organizing them into the library for later use or to create short assignments. Once they are assigned, the kids can complete the task, come back to Edmodo and mark their activity as "Turned in."

From a technology end, it is great to manage content, embed content and curate great resources all into one location. There are some things I wish it did better like organize and archive assignments, posts, etc. The linear sequence of scrolling through activities can get cluttered, but overall it's something I wish I had when I was in the classroom. The kids love it.

So below is a screenshot of a short lesson America assigned to John M. & Grace: Write a creative story about a Llama with a beginning, middle and ending. Using good old fashion paper and pencil, she had them write their story, illustrate using a Draw Write notebook. Then I had them go to to narrate their story and animate a Llama to tell their story. Once he completed his story, we were able to take a picture of his story and drawing and upload them to his Edmodo profile/portolio from our iPhone Edmodo App. How cool is that?

Finally, he posted his final production Llama video to his profile. Take a look...

 I am just amazed at how much these kids can do if we give them the tools and engaging resources to do so. I think the notion of "teaching to the test" is something we hear over and over, but I don't believe we are really teaching them when we do this. Kids are going way beyond "learning from the test" when they get home or go online. This is the digital world they know and they are moving ahead with or without the adults. There are so many good things happening in classrooms today that go beyond traditional textbooks, worksheets and test taking. And, the web has made it so compelling to find shared resources online to teach and reinforce concepts. I have discovered and stored many great online education tools. What are some of your favorite resources that you use to engage your students?

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