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Tinley teacher turns social media into tool

Chuck Moore an English teacher Tinley Park High School uses edmodo.com classroom as an interactive reading guide for students.

Chuck Moore, an English teacher at Tinley Park High School, uses edmodo.com in the classroom as an interactive reading guide for students.

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Updated: December 10, 2010 3:40PM



"I have a growing concern for my books, because a good book is a tattered book," Chuck Moore, a Tinley Park High School English teacher said. "A neglected book is a brand new book, and I've noticed that the longer I teach, the more my books come back to me in pretty good condition."

Moore faces a challenge that many educators are probably familiar with: How to keep increasingly tech-savvy students interested in actual books.

His solution- To incorporate elements of social media into his lesson plan.

Moore shared his methodologies with fellow faculty members Oct. 8 during the district's Institute Day and offered an encore presentation for board members and staff during last week's Bremen Community High School District 228 school board meeting.

He has found that by tapping into students' inclination toward social networking and teamwork, his class discussions could continue to affect and motivate students outside of the classroom.

Moore relies on both PBworks, which provides a free, secure network that allows students to collaborate online, as well as edmodo, a free, education-based social networking site that allows students and instructors to discuss class assignments.

One of Moore's classes recently read Kurt Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse-Five" and he cited examples of how students were to access the traditional course reading guide but in addition, they also were able to create links to Vonnegut's Web site, the novel's reviews and information about the bombing of Dresden, Germany - a key element of the book's plot.

This online component allowed students to quickly grasp the book's historical elements, which in turn helped them develop a deeper understanding of the book's content, he said.

Moore uses edmodo to facilitate class discussions and create online assignments for students to complete. Each student creates a profile and posts comments pertaining to specific reading assignments. Moore also can give students real-time feedback on assignments that they've turned in.

"They use this site and they start talking about the book ... it's like natural to them," he said. "It's like what they're used to doing when they socialize with each other."

Although this style of learning gives students a bit more autonomy, Moore has noticed they actively contribute and are respectful of their peers' contributions.

"I talk to the kids, and they appreciate that you're going in this direction," he said. "They usually don't abuse it because if they abuse it, they're going to lose it."

Moore's teaching methods also have led to meaningful classroom discussions that nearly all students participate in.

"When you have class discussions, you're going to get those same three or four kids who dominate that discussion," he said. "This (new approach) gives every kid in the classroom a voice. Once they have a post, then I have noticed that they are much more willing to explain their post in class."



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