Read With Me is now on Edmodo

Good News! Recently Read With Me was approved to appear on the Edmodo App store and as of this month, thousands of teachers have signed up. Now it is easier to add your groups to your Read With Me account straight from Edmodo. Assessments you save can be posted as grades in your grade book. We are really excited about making Read With Me more accessible and easy to use. We encourage you to sign up with Edmodo, not just because they feature our app, but because it is a great educational community for teachers students and parents.

As teachers we are also Edmodo users and are very excited about the possibilites of developing apps for their appstore. We hope you will check them out.

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This just in! Read With Me is now one of the top 5 free apps on Edmodo with thousands of users and the list is growing!

Team Wins Hackathon with School Office Pal prototype

It’s hard to resist the urge to build an educational app once you do it. Reina, Francisco and I went back to the AT&T Foundry in Palo Alto Saturday, where it all started back in June with first place winner Read With Me App .

This time around, we built a prototype concept called School Office Pal. The web app tries to simplify the time-consuming office referral process while simultaneously helping to calm the student using videos on mobile devices.

Usually when kids are sent to the office, they sit there, sometimes for hours, waiting to get processed by staff and administrators. If a serious enough incident has occurred, the process usually requires an investigation, the  calling of witnesses, validation of the different versions of events, student written reflections, conflict resolutions, etc. This can take up a lot of time from busy admins, not to mention lost class time. In the tradition of Read With Me, which hopes to streamline bottlenecks in the reading assessment arena, School Office Pal also tries to tackle the overwhelming problem of school referrals by making the process faster and digital, so that data can quickly be analyzed and saved.

Here is a short video from the Hackathon:

School Office Pal first calms the student down using a meditation video. The student is given a list of options to choose from for the reason they were sent to the office. Some options include fighting, bullying, being sick, or misbehaving. Each option leads the student through a set of questions that can help school staff handle each case faster and more accurately.

After filling out the questions, the student can watch a short video clip about the situation, including ways to remedy the issue or help the student emotionally. They are encouraged through the questions to reflect about the incident, what they could have done differently, what the other person might say about what happened, etc. A student’s testimony is then recorded, saving the principal or vice principal the time of conducting extensive investigations, dealing with changing stories, or uncommunicative kids.

 

That’s not to say that there is no room for deep conversations about what happened. Principals can and should continue to have in-depth dialogue with students caught in negative behavior cycles. In fact it is the very purpose of the app, to relieve the data gathering, the self reflection, the pre-conference metacognitive thought process, so that when the principal, parents, counselors are ready to meet, all that is already taken care of, and the deep conversations can begin in earnest.

Our team was awarded twice: second place Best General Social Good App and as Best App using Stackmob , a database service that allows applications to store data remotely. We also used Tout,  a short-length video hosting service who was also present at the hackathon.

We are currently reviewing how this prototype can be integrated with the products currently in the development pipeline. We believe that helping teach students ways to self remedy or handle situations they find themselves in can lead to a more productive school ecosystem, allowing staff more time to focus on and help students instead of filling out paperwork.

The team is looking for feedback and suggestions, which can be sent via this form .

Private Beta is Underway!

Read With Me is excited to announce that our app is currently in private Beta, signing up new users daily. Over the summer we sent out a few feelers to teacher communities like Edmodo, and relied on word of mouth, Twitter, and other media to pull together a good number of folks interested in pioneering out app.

With the start of the new year, we knew we had to launch and show off all the work we’ve been doing. Our app is far from finished, but we believe we have a field-tested tool now that can function in a classroom. The only problem is that for the most part it has been only the development team, or folks under the supervision of the development team that have used it. Now it is time for complete newbies to have a crack at it, and tell us which  features really work and which should walk quietly into the shadows.

Over the next few weeks we will be adding more users from our growing list of folks who asked to try it out. If you already requested and are eager to try it but have not heard back, please shoot us an email. If not, we’ll get to you soon enough.

FYI: Even though we are technically running a private Beta release, teachers, parents and anyone can still request an invite by going to: readwithmeapp.com/participate 

If everything works out, you most probably will get one while we are still developing the full version and if you are willing to work with us on making it better.

 

Why Read With Me?

Just yesterday morning a student of mine, Luis Duenas Hernandez, was shot in the chest while sleeping in his East Oakland residence.

While this is not the first time a student has been shot, and while those shootings are just as tragic, this is the first time one of my scholars and babies has been shot.

You may ask “Why post this story here?”

Well, because this is one of the students I do what I do, in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health.  Those aren’t just some generic vows, those are values that anyone working with love in their hearts sees to it they uphold.

My team and I want to send him and his family all the love and tenderness to give in these difficult times.  Please help me by keeping him and family in your hearts and minds as you undertake the sometimes thankless job of helping raise the next generation.