Occasionally, the NCS Ed Tech News blog has guest writers. This week Karen Pollard, our PFAA Theater and Performing Arts Chair has created a piece sharing her recent experience using Edmodo.
I just had a great experience using Edmodo in my Acting II class – and no one is more surprised than I am!
Before I tell you about it you should know that as an acting teacher I’ve been very concerned and confused about how to integrate technology into my Drama classes. I’ve been worried that it would take stage time away from my students and plunk them down in front of a computer. I realize that our school has recognized and acknowledged the need to have an increased focus on expanding our student’s access to and understanding of technology and I think that’s extremely important. But I always worry that implementing a common direction for all will force the art classes (which are steeped in classical arts practices) to create inorganic strategies in the classroom that may not enhance a hands-on artistic environment.
So – why did I create this assignment? Well, first and foremost our students need it and this movement is clearly happening. The second reason (and the funnier one) is because this is an evaluation year for me and I had to come up with professional goals, so I came up with one related to technology. The assignment was very simple. I filmed my student’s final performances of their Shakespearean monologues. I uploaded them to YouTube and then pasted the links onto Edmodo. I booked the Media Center for a day and got them all online. I had all the students pick one other student to formally critique (using my rubric for terminology) and then they were required to respond to three other formal critiques after having viewed those pieces as well. I was a little nervous about this day because it was outside my comfort zone. I have no problem teaching teenagers to fall in love, kill or kiss each other on stage – but computer classes? No way!
Here’s what I didn’t expect. The crazy, positive energy the kids felt when they watched themselves on YouTube. They felt like stars. They also felt a heightened sense of importance and responsibility to be thorough with their critiques because it was being posted publicly. When I asked them to discuss the value of this assignment the next day in class the overwhelming assessment was the lesson was “so cool.” They said they were far more engaged than they would have been if this were a traditional writing assignment.
The other unexpected benefit of this assignment was it actually bought an entire week of stage time for my kids. I have always taken a week to view their performances in class and then openly discuss aspects of each piece. Now I can add a class exercise and they get more time to develop their skills on stage. I know this won’t work for everyone but I thought I would share a tiny success.
Theatre Arts Department Chair
Natomas Charter School Performing and Fine Arts Academy