Within nine minutes, there were more than 600 posts from B. Michael Caudill students and faculty in an online group Tuesday night to discuss the presidential debate, said principal Ken Bicknell. Students were able to share their thoughts on the debate and receive live feedback from their peers in real-time.
Schools district-wide use an online community called Edmodo, which provides teachers and students a secure place to connect and collaborate, similar to Facebook, said Wendee Clark, a sixth grade social studies teacher.
Clark and Bicknell set up the group Tuesday morning and within hours after the announcement, around 200 people had joined, the principal said.
“What I noticed on Edmodo was how informed our students are. Probably more informed than many of adults are about the issues. I'm very proud of them,” Bicknell said.
More people are still joining and posting in the group, he said.
Bicknell could tell that families were watching the debate together because “the posts became more involved,” he said. “With families involved in an activity like this, our kids are more informed.”
Sixth-graders started their unit on the election just recently, but the online group spread the election discussion to the whole school, and now the idea has spread across the district, Bicknell said.
In Clark's class, students chose their presidential candidate and the two teams engaged in a debate over issues like welfare, gas prices and the economy, she said.
On Nov. 5, the school will participate in their own mock election and the votes will be tallied online.
The following are comments from seven Caudill sixth-graders, all 11 years old, about what they learned from the presidential debate and how interacting with their peers on Edmodo furthered their understanding of the election process.
“I learned about the whole process of the debate and how much time they have to answer questions,” Hannah said.
“I thought it was funny sometimes, but it was kind of rude too,” she said about the presidential candidates interrupting one another during the debate.
Edmodo was an opportunity for her to learn some things about the candidates that she never knew before, Hannah said.