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Two South Orange Middle School Educators Present at Worldwide Conference

David Lackey

Wednesday, August 7, 2013 • 5:08pm

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ – Two educators from South Orange Middle School (SOMS) are presenting at EdmodoCon, the country’s largest virtual education technology conference on Wednesday, Aug. 7 in San Francisco. Elissa Malespina, SOMS librarian/media specialist and Melissa Butler, sixth-grade language arts teacher, are two of eleven teachers from around the world presenting at the conference. More than 25,000 educators have registered to attend either in person or online.

They will be discussing how technology is transforming the classroom and creating new educational opportunities for students. SOMS has been utilizing Edmodo, a closed social networking platform for a little over two years. The system, which is similar in some ways to a private, safe and secure Facebook site for teachers and students, allows web-based communication from school or home, and is designed to get students excited about learning by engaging them through digital devices. Teachers can continue classroom discussions online, give polls to check for student understanding, and award badges to students for completing assigned tasks.

Butler said that their presentation at EdmodCon is entitled “Flattening the Classroom.”

“Bringing this technology into the classroom, breaks down the classroom walls.” Butler explained. “We can connect with teachers and peers around the world.”

An example of this is the Poetry Summit in which SOMS students participated with five other schools across North America for two hours of learning and reciting poetry.  Students shared with their peers and learned from teachers as well as a professional poet, Tina Kelly who joined in the discussion.

Malespina noted that Edmodo is not just used for communication.

“It is a great place to put resource links and live binders for students to access,” she said.  “It allows the teacher to go home with them.”

The use of Edmodo is spreading across the South Orange-Maplewood school district, as more teachers see the benefits of using it.  With the SOMS teachers leading the way, they anticipate helping to train educators in the districts other schools.  

Here is a video featuring SOMS students explaining why they like using Edmodo:

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Our earlier story about SOMS students utilizing technology to hold a virtual debate with students in schools across the country may be found here: http://thealternativepress.com/articles/south-orange-middle-school-students-compete-in-a

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