Jack Black – God of Teaching?

Even Jack Black struggled with the blackboard.

Most of  us remember School of Rock. Jack Black as the wanna be rock star who poses as a substitute teacher at an expensive private school who turns the class into a rock band. What’s interesting, is how he does it. It’s not all about the blackboard and taking copious amounts of notes. The kids are familiar with this but once they discover that they can use their talents in a way that helps to contribute to the rock band their energy and engagement changes and grows. I’m sure there are a few computers in there somewhere.

School of Rock is a great example of what can be achieved away from the whiteboard or blackboard (for those who may still be using them which I know there are some). The scary thing for us as teachers is that technology is moving at a speed faster than any of us could have imagined.

I’m 27 and even I feel behind and I’ve been growing up around computers since I was about 8 years old.

It’s scary because with all our job responsibilites and expectations, our families, having some sort of work/life balance, kids complaining about how “boring” English is or Science is preferring instead to send a text to the hot guy on the other side of the room from underneath the desk, technology can sometimes be left in the “too hard” basket when trying to integrate it into our teaching and learning programs. It is now the common divide between teachers and students and we have to face up to it.

Thankfully there are really creative and innovative teachers out there who are motivating and pushing the use of technology in the classroom and making it accessible for teachers to learn and manage on their own. Things like the Edublogs Teacher’s Challenge. This needs to happen far more regularly in all schools.
A teaching tool that I would like to share and recommend is Edmodo. It is a secure, social learning network for teacher’s and students. It is a “safe” Facebook if you like. Many teachers are confined by government or regional policy. Particularly to do with this issue of social networking, its use in schools and the safety of students on the Internet whilst doing this. Edmodo offers an opportunity for social networking to happen within a school that is closely monitored by staff.
Some of its advantages include:
  • Creating a specific class or interest group and “wall” that you can then post information to.
  • Using the “wall” to post polls, assignments, notices, alerts.
  • A calendar feature to help students keep track of when assignments are due. If they are part of more than one group they can see all their assignment due dates.
  • A grade book feature where you can keep track of students results and they can also see what they have achieved.
  • A library to keep track of links and documents that you post to your “wall.”

Some suggestions for ways the pages could be used include specific class work/discussions, faculty groups, sports teams or other extra-curricular activities, whole year groups and parent contact.

Most importantly, you are interacting with the kids in a way that is accessible and familiar to them.

So, as teachers we can either choose to let technology rule us or we can choose to rule with technology. We know our stuff. We know what to teach and how to teach it well. Challenge yourself to mix it up a bit. To do something a bit different. See what happens. You might surprise yourself. Least of all the kids themselves.

This post is part of  Kick Start Your Blogging Activity 2. We were required to post on one of several topics and I chose a review of a technology learning tool.

14 Comments

  1. I really enjoyed reading your post. I agree about that balancing act. I never thought I would be the first to start a blog at my school. We have to try to use the technology students are using no matter how much things change or new it is to us.

  2. Great post–I loved using Edmodo with my junior high age students. Their parents felt comfortable with it since only the class could access it and I monitored it daily.

    I also used it as a place students could upload rough drafts of writing to me. I could read and comment and then send it back. Loved that!

    As of this semester, i no longer teach those students, but one class begged me to keep Edmodo going so we could stay in contact. How could I say no…

    Anyway–thanks for the post.

  3. I watched ‘School of Rock’ for the first time the other with my daughters and her friends. I loved it. Edmodo sounds great…but perhaps not for 7-8 year plds that I teach? Too young-do you think?

    • Thanks Oona for visiting my blog! I really appreciate it. I agree with you that they may be a little young for Edmodo. It is scary to think however that some young ones do have Facebook pages and Twitter accounts! Edmodo is a such more sanitised version though. I wouldn’t put it past Year 5-6. They’re pretty cluey! If guidelines were set out and specific tasks set in order to use Edmodo it may work.

  4. Karla,
    Great post. I enjoyed reading it and hearing about Edmodo. I’ve heard of it, but I haven’t tried it yet. Here is a link to a video, “I Need My Teacher to Learn”, that I think is applicable.🙂

    • I watched the clip Denise and I loved it! I particularly liked the line “Prepare for our future not your past.” It is so true. I’d like to think it’s more about preserving the past by making it exciting and interesting with the technology of now and the future. Thanks so much for sharing and responding to my post. I really appreciate it.

  5. Hi –
    I love your post – of course Jack Black at the Blackboard grabbed me right away.
    Just a few weeks ago I signed my fourth grade students up at Kidblog. They thought it was like ‘Kid Facebook’. I was a little nervous with their comment and have definitely steered their blogging in a direction (that is not quite blogging but posting to specific assignments.) Anyway, Edmodo might be an interesting site for us to check out. Thanks for the information.

  6. I haven’t seen school of rock, but then I was still using a blackboard with boring colored chalk until last year. Anyway, I am appreciate your review of Edmodo. I will be checking it out. I wonder if it has ways for students to privately chat when they are on the site; that is the biggest sticking point for our district. We introduced Wiki’s to the students, but then discovered, or rather the students discovered, the private email service within Wikispaces. Our district policy is that all student interaction online has to be visible to the administrator of the program. Anyway, I will be looking at Edmodo. Thanks!

    • Thanks Tom! I don’t think it does have a chat function. I’ve not seen or used one before. That’s why Edmodo is so good because you can monitor all student interaction because it all comes through the “wall” and everyone can see it. We are also very specific about the login names the students use and the language that they use on the wall. The students must use their full name and any inappropriate or off topic wall posts will see them banned from Edmodo. Most kids we have found respect the rules so we haven’t had a great deal of problems with this. Good luck and enjoy exploring!

  7. Pingback: Lesson Lovenotes: Teaching Theatre History « Drama Teacher's Network

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