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A school communication hero!

April 30, 2012

Kimberly Flanagan is an English teacher at Brandywine High School and a communication hero. Ms. Flanagan was honored with recognition by the Delaware Showcase of Excellence in Digital Learning for her work in home-school communication.

Ms. Flanagan communicates with students and families using a website powered by Edmodo. Edmodo is a free service that provides powerful websites designed for districts and teachers to manage and communicate schoolwork and assignments.

Edmodo is a good system and is very cool, but that’s not the point. Any similar system will do, including eSchoolPLUS which all teachers already have. The point is the communication philosophy Ms. Flanagan brings to communicating school assignments:

I use Edmodo to post each day’s LFS formatted lesson plan. I put all worksheets, handouts, and packets in the Edmodo library so that the students may access them at any time. I also post all PowerPoints and video feeds that I show to the class on the site so that they may review the information as often as necessary. This provides the students with one central location to access information provided in class.

As readers of this blog may know, in my experiences in Red Clay I have mostly despaired of convincing teachers to enter assignments in advance in eSchoolPLUS. When I ask for assignments to be communicated in advance, and documents provided online, I get responses like:

  • “I don’t have to.”
  • “It takes too much time.” (actually, it doesn’t take any extra time)
  • “Withholding this information teaches students responsibility.”

So Ms. Flanagan’s communication philosophy is a blast of common sense that cuts through all those excuses. I can’t understand why this kind of communication isn’t promoted to be a district-wide best practice. Especially since teachers don’t really have to maintain a web site anymore – all they have to do is enter the assignment in their eSchoolPLUS gradebook, and parents and students can immediately see the assignment on the web.

Does providing assignments online mean students aren’t learning responsibility? Nope:

I use Edmodo primarily as an accountability and communication tool […] I am not a fan of excuses, and Edmodo is one way for me to help the students to become self-sufficient in seeking answers to any point of confusion after the information has been taught within the classroom.

Is communicating assignments too much work added to the burden teachers already have? Ms. Flanagan doesn’t think so:

Edmodo also helps me with the teacher’s “paper burden.” The students submit their work to the site, and I can annotate it, grade it, and provide feedback in a timely, yet private manner. I can even do most things through my smart phone! […]
I cannot tell you how many once time consuming emails, questions, and requests from administration, students, and/or parents I can now answer with the simple phrase, “It’s on Edmodo.”

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