Thursday, July 24, 2014

Using Edmodo with Younger Students - part 1: Getting Started

I suppose I am what you'd call an +Edmodo  power user in our district.  I am an Edmodo Certified Teacher and an Edmodo Support Ambassador, I have the t-shirts to prove it. I am often asked how I use Edmodo with my fifth grade students and how I would use it in even younger classrooms. So here are some ideas and what I have found to be best practices.

In my first day letter to parents, I include information about digital citizenship, technology use in general and how we will be using Edmodo in the classroom. I always start out the year with two weeks of #digicit lessons from +Common Sense Educators .  Students earn their passports by completing all of the lessons with me.  I then introduce them to Edmodo.   I do compare it to Facebook to give them a frame of reference and we discuss the differences: Edmodo is first and foremost is a safe and secure learning community.  We talk about what it means to be safe and secure. Then we focus on the fact that it is a learning community.  Not all teachers choose to allow their students to post 'personal' or non school related comments and it is something you should decide on before you introduce Edmodo.  While I do allow my students to post non-academic content from home, they know that they will lose privileges if they are socializing via Edmodo during school hours. And even though all notes (posts) are time stamped, some kids still seem surprised when I know that have posted, "'s'up" during class.

Next we have an extensive discussion on how/what to post and comment.  We use the acronym RAME - is is relevant, appropriate, meaningful, and edited.  We discuss Socrates three sieves - is it true, good and necessary.  We then use the expanded, child friendly acrostic THINK - is it true? helpful? interesting or inspiring? necessary? kind?  We do some role playing and I remind them that if they wouldn't say it to someones face, with me in earshot, then they shouldn't write it in Edmodo.

After all this talking, they are anxious to get started.  At this point, I have already created a group for my class, usually called something like '14-15 Room 7' Each group has a unique join code that new student users will need to sign up for Edmodo and existing users will need to join the class.  Generally, my students are new to Edmodo so they will need to create a student account. Even if they have an email, I do not have them enter it, since they are under 13 years old and technically not allowed to have email accounts.  I also do not allow them to use their last names.  I used to but then one of my previous students pointed out that she was at the public library using Edmodo and her name was all the screen for any passerby to see.  So now I have them use an alias. One year I used our school name for all of their last names.  Last year we had faux twitter handles, so they could use that for their name. Another teacher I know uses her last name for the kids' names, and then when they go on to another grade they change their last name (which avoids too many Jennifer School-name instances).  It is fairly easy to change a name after creating an account.

I initially start out my students as "read only", not contributors, that way they can see what I post but they cannot yet post.  It is easy to change this later, when you are ready, via the group members page. Their first activity after logging in, is an Edmodo scavenger hunt to familiarize them with basic features.  In the past I have used +Melissa Butler 's Livebinder Scavenger Hunt. If you use it, you will need to change students to contributor when they reach step 4. Be aware that Edmodo has redesigned some of their pages so although the activity will be the same, they look of the page might not match. That said, Melissa's +LiveBinders is a great resource!

That night's homework assignment is to tell their parent's about Edmodo and help them sign up as parents. I generate parent letters that include an overview of Edmodo, how we will be using it in class, and instructions for creating parent accounts, including their unique Parent code (associated with their child).  You cannot finalize the letter until the child has created their own account.  If  families do not have access at home, I invite parents to come early to Back to School Night and I will help them get started. I usually give a prize to the child whose parents are first to sign up and I award a badge to all students who have their parent or guardian sign up. It is easy to tell because that child's profile will have a parent icon by their name, on the same member's page where you can assign badges!

Some primary grade teachers have skipped having pre-writing students sign up and just had parents sign up as students to facilitate parent communication.  This causes slight problems in later years when that parent wants to associate their own email ID with a parent account.  This can be fixed but a better solution would be to avoid creating the problem.  Have a parent or an aide help you create student accounts for your class. This will generate the parent code for each child. Then the parents will sign up and you can now communicate with them as a group. The difference is that as "students" they can post to you and as "parents" they cannot.

Earlier in July I co-hosted an #edmodochat about using Edmodo with younger students.  The transcript of that chat was +Storify 'd - see below.  Coming up next: Edmodo With Younger Students - Part 2 year one 5th graders at work

1 comment:

  1. Here is another Scavenger Hunt LiveBinder from Mrs. Yakes.