Monday, July 28, 2014

Using Edmodo with Younger Students: Part 3 - Assignments

In my second year of Edmodo+students I was challenged by our +Edmodo rep to make more use of assignments.  Always up for a challenge, I tackled this one.  

First I started with just short answer assignments that they could answer in one sitting. For example, as part of California Social Studies in 4th grade, I asked "Why did your family (ancestors or current) move to California?"  I also used it to track grades they had submitted on paper, so that their parents could see assignment status.  Then I moved on to assignments that students would create in +Google Drive, which links up elegantly with the Edmodo student backpack.  For example, as part of our participation in Global Read Aloud, started by +Pernille Ripp, students wrote a 'deleted scene' from the book we were reading.

Finally, I used Edmodo assignments when I had detailed instructions for completion. That way I could include a word or google doc in the assignment or in an Edmodo folder for them to refer back to. For example, we did a Road Trip project that took about two months to complete. The initial project sheet with milestones was handed out on paper and via the Edmodo assignment.  Each milestone had a corresponding assignment, so students and parents could see due dates and progress.  I also made sure that rubrics for each milestone and final product were in the folder in our shared library.  Some of the assignments could be "turned in" via Edmodo using Google docs or attaching a Word.doc.  Students also used an app to make a comic about one stop on their road trip using +Pixton Comics via Edmodo (more on apps later). 

However some milestones were not digital, such as a poster advertising a product of the state they visited.  For these I collected their assignments by hand, graded them and then input the grades into Edmodo. This is a very quick and easy process. Again, I found a benefit in parents and students being able to see in a glance whether an assignment has been submitted.

Later students learned how to submit movies to Edmodo so they could submit video projects as well, such as 6-word weekend, water and rock cycles (using +Educreations) and book reviews.

Students without access have the option to come in before or after school, or at lunch to complete the assignment in Edmodo, or to do it on paper and then I just manually grade and enter into the Edmodo grade book. At the end of each quarter I export the grades to my grade book.  The only problem is that the Edmodo grade book combines all grades, regardless of subject, unless you were to create a unique group for each subject. I just export the whole thing into excel and sort, then move columns around, then export sections from excel into my PowerSchool grade book. It sounds more cumbersome than it is.

Completed assignments get sent only to the teacher. Parents can see them as well. Parents can see the assignment, their child's submission, assignment comments and the grade of their child's work from their Parent account

I always have at least two kids that do not submit assignments properly and post their answers to the group (parents cannot see this). I do make them go back and "Turn In' the assignment properly so that they hopefully will do it correctly going forward.  If I want the kids to see each others' work, I give the prompt as a post and ask students to reply to my post. So far no one blatantly has "borrowed" answers from these assignment posts.  I am waiting for it as a teachable moment about citing sources and plagiarism.

It hasn't always been easy to get others on board.  We have an RtI model for our reading classes when students leave their homeroom and go to another classroom for reading.  I planned to use Edmodo with my reading group for response to literature and other check-ins.  One of our teachers was not willing to have her students sign up their parents, and she asked me to print out each assignment that students submitted.  I obliged for the first grading period, however I also included links and instructions for reviewing assignments online. After that first trimester, she saw the benefit and uses and "allowed" me to discontinue printing. (Actually, I just told her I wasn't going to do it anymore.)

A few other tidbits came up in my second year.  When it came time to choose avatars, I realized I needed to set an example so I changed mine from a photo of me to a cartoon avatar (I used bitstrips but there are many options out there). As noted in an earlier blog post, I do allow my students to socialize after hours on Edmodo as long as it kind, true and responsible. If they do it during class, and they will, they get a warning. I've never had it go past that. 

I am so grateful to +Jill Florant for challenging me to try the assignments feature. I love digital grading with Edmodo! No more stacks of paper to carry home. I can sit on the deck with my iPad and grade student work.

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