Thursday, July 24, 2014

Using Edmodo with Younger Students: Part 2 - 5th graders @work

I have been using +Edmodo for professional development for 4 years and with my students for the past 3 years; 4th, a 4/5 combo and then 5th grade.  (Yes, that's how I roll, something different every year.)  For the past two years I was lucky enough to loop some of my students, so I had a built in set of 'experts' when it came time to introduce Edmodo to my class.

First, let me just say the students are super excited and engaged when they get to use Edmodo. It helps them feel more responsible and accountable for their work and they really do feel more 'grown up' (soon enough, little ones, please don't rush).  As I mentioned in my earlier post, Getting Started with Edmodo, I usually start my kids with a scavenger hunt.  Not only does it help them learn how to navigate around Edmodo but while they are doing that, I get great insight into how well students can work independently, collaborate and problem solve. If I am lucky, I can also have a few minutes to insert parent codes into letters to go home that day.

My first year of working with students and Edmodo, I did not really make use of assignments or Edmodo apps. I focused solely on posting prompts to students and having them reply. I was just learning how to use Edmodo as a teacher and I wasn't really aware of its capabilities. I also wanted to gain better understanding of promises and pitfalls of using the social media platform with 8-10 year olds. The biggest thing I learned during year 1 was to do more upfront work about keeping posts RAME= Relevant, Appropriate, Meaningful, and Edited.  Because I was hyper vigilant, I was getting notifications at all hours from students typing random messages just because they could...seriously random, one kid, I swear, had his cat walk on the keyboard and he posted that at about 10:00 pm!  So I learned that I really needed to get control of their posting etiquette. I wanted to be sure, and still do, that my students had the freedom to express themselves.  But they also needed a better understanding of the fact that everyone (in our group) was reading what they were posting.  We did a lot of practice on paper and many times I reminded them, "I get an email EVERY time you post anything!"

One of my class jobs quickly became homework poster.  Since I rarely teach the same thing two years in a row, it is not always easy for me to predict homework enough to be able to post it on a webpage a week in advance.  Daily, while we are filling out our paper planners, one student posts the homework to our class group on Edmodo.  That afternoon, I will copy and share that post again to the group as well as to their parents.  Often a student will forget a homework page or be absent, and Edmodo comes to the rescue.  My students have taken pictures of a math page and posted it to Edmodo so that another student could complete her own homework.  They will also ask for help or clarification. More often than not, they clear up any confusion before I even have a chance to respond.  And if they can't, then I have pretty good feedback that a certain assignment was confusing or difficult.

I did start using the assignment feature simply to manually record who did and didn't finish certain assignments, just to give students and parents an idea of progress and where intervention might be needed.

For classroom use that first year, I often used Edmodo posts for response to literature and to gauge understanding of a concept or prompt discussions in science, social studies or math.  Students also quickly learned how to share their work including +Google  docs, videos made with +Educreations and more. About a third of the way through the year, we received our iPads, as part of an initial rollout of the Cambrian iPad Academy.  This was a game changer in many ways.  As it relates to Edmodo, it meant that students had instant access to their accounts, rather than having to wait for the C.O.W. (computer on wheels) to roll in, or for our old, slow desktop PCs to boot.I played around a little bit more with assignments, quizzes and polls and my students were incredibly patient and forgiving.

Edmodo has incredible and vast capabilities and potential, however my advice for year one implementation is to start small. Stick with just a few key areas and learn what works for you and what doesn't.  The summer after my first year of Edmodo+students, I virtually attended #edmodocon... who doesn't love PD that starts in my jammies and ends with a glass of wine! This year, Edmodocon2014 is being held August 6th and I strongly recommend you reserve your spot today!  My head about exploded with all of the ideas and I couldn't wait to get back to school to try them out.

Coming up soon - Using Edmodo: Year Two and Beyond!

1 comment:

  1. These two articles are great. Step by step and gradual release of responsibility to students. Great model! May I link them to the Cambrian Site. Thank you