Saturday, April 26, 2014

Kindness Matters: Writing with StoryLines Pages & Edmodo

I partner teach 36 fifth graders with +sheila monger , our inclusive education teacher (some would call her an SDC teacher, she would not). We encompass rooms 7 & 8 so we call ourselves Team Seight. If you were to come in when we are all in the same room, you would not know who was officially assigned to each teacher.  +Edmodo has been a great tool for connecting our students in authentic ways, and preparing them for the world of social media in a safe and controlled environment. This year a theme at our school has been kindness, so using StoryLines Pages, an app in Edmodo, we created a Kindness Matters Book for each student.  

StoryLines Pages is a collaborative classroom activity where students learn the power of compliments and encouragement. Inspired by the story "All Good Things", by Sister Helen Mrosla, StoryLines Pages has each student in your class creating a page for each other student, expressing something he appreciates about his classmate.With this app, each student writes a “page” (one sentence) about every other student in our class. We read the short, true (verified by Snopes) story by Sister Helen and then the kids got to work. Some of my findings as we worked on this project:

  • All students participated, and I had a quick snapshot of who was or wasn’t working on their pages, using the overall status page
  • As I went through and reviewed students’ pages, I was able to see common mistakes, trends and areas of need. For example, this student consistently used capital letters incorrectly. Many of my students are still misusing the contraction of you are, spelling it Y-O-U-R.  Several of my students had difficulty writing in the first person, present tense.


SL comment page.PNG


  • It was extremely rewarding for me to read the comments that my students made about all of their classmates. Never once was a comment checked “It is not nice” because it was mean. Some of our ED kids did have challenges differentiating between a statement (You play with me at recess. vs I like when you play with me at recess.) However, overwhelmingly, the students really had surprisingly nice things to say about each other.

  • One of my students on a 504 has significant challenges starting work.  He will sit and stare into space. I was very worried about what other students would say about him, there just doesn't seem to be much 'there-there' from a 10 year old’s perspective, or so I thought.  I was delighted to see pages such as “You respect others, You are smart and funny (he is, when he speaks), You are a good listener, You are good at sitting still when others are talking. You are polite, respectful to others and very quiet in class.”  None of these things are untrue and I just loved seeing how they took a behavior that can be difficult and saw the positive in it! I learned a lesson myself from these kids (well,honestly they teach me something every day)


  • The app was incredibly easy for me to use, and even easier for the kids.  Because often the same child would make the same errors repeatedly, I could cut and paste my review comment, and they got practice correcting these problem areas.



  • I did have a few students think they could just cut and paste and make the same comment to multiple classmates. Because I would review all of the pages by a given student at one time, it was pretty easy to catch this and comment back to them to be original and be specific.


  • Once most of the Storylines Pages ages are done, we will go ahead and publish the book. Students will receive a link that they can choose to share outside of Edmodo.


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I am eagerly awaiting the smiles and happy sighs when the students read the kind words said about them. As a parent, I know I would cherish seeing the kindness extended toward my child through such a project.  As a teacher of students with a wide range of abilities, it was great to find an activity that all students could participate in equally. This activity also served as a great formative assessment and gave me insights into student needs. Finally, it was just sweet and this time of year, in fifth grade, we can all use a little sweet!


3 comments:

  1. Excuse me if this is a double post. The page flew away. I love this song by Jewel. It reminds me: (a) We are in charge of our own works (b) Others remember our kindness and our kindness ultimately defines us (c) Only Kindness matters
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AfsS3pIDBfw

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  2. This song is amazing, and yes, small hands can and do make a difference! Thanks for the link!

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  3. Thank you for sharing this amazing journey our kids took us on.

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