Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Who says class has to stop for a snow day?

Recently I created a facebook page using my school email address and opened it up to friend requests from my current students.  I will not go into detail about my facebook page and its rules now, you can find more information about it under the communication link on my website.  This page has been up for about a week and I currently have 29 students and 3 parents as friends.  Earlier tonight I got the idea to post the following update on my page:

"Let's experiment with the power of social networking. I am going to create a moodle chat room. If we get 50 students to join I will give each chat participant bonus points! Let's go..."

In a very short period of time I had my first couple chat participants.  Over the course of the next hour or so the chat grew and hovered around 15 students.  That is about 50% of my facebook "friends", but a far cry from 50 students.  These were my 8th grade physical science students, and since I only teach for half a day at the middle school, I invited the other physical science teacher to join as well.  

Of course the students still wanted their bonus points.  It was my initial intention to wait until I had 50 students and then offer to double the five bonus points I intended to give them if they could answer some questions.  With the realization that the chat was not going to get 50 students, the other science teacher and I offered to give them one point per correctly answered question.  They jumped on it!  We initially asked six questions, but how can you refuse when they ask for more.  We ended up asking them ten questions, of which they got nine correct.  Five of the questions came straight from current class material.  The other five came from past science courses and where about topics they might see on their upcoming PSSA exams.

This was a blast!  I have one question for those teachers and administrators out there that do not think social networking applications and course management software like moodle have a place in education...  What were you doing on your snow day?  I was having class, and my students loved it!  


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