We are in our second round of school closings because of winter weather. Growing up in Finland, I cannot recall a day that school was cancelled because of weather, but in Atlanta the situation is completely different. I am thankful to be home safely this time around, as I had to stay with a coworker in the last snow storm.
My students were not thrilled to hear that I was sending them with assignments since we would be missing more instructional time.
So what did we do?
I used TodaysMeet to host a two hour live session with my students. I set the room up one minute prior to starting, so that I could control the length to be exactly 2 hours. Students had been assigned social studies reading and tasks, and this was their chance to ask questions.
During the 2010-2011 school year, I had the opportunity to participate in Fulton County's Technology Leadership Forum. Several teachers in the forum were already utilizing the inspired classroom model. I had learned about the use of classroom wikis to communicate and share work from those teachers. Then we learned about a tool which resembled a social media website very familiar to most of us and that would streamline classroom communication. The tool was Edmodo. I quickly created an account and played around with the website (the best part of technology PD is the ability to "mess" with the tool yourself). I was intrigued, but dismissed its usefulness. We were already well into the school year and this did not seem like a worthy investment of instructional time.
The following summer, I had the chance to attend an advanced inspired classroom training where I had a lot of time to investigate tools and plan for the upcoming year. I had found the use of a wiki very useful, but the concept of editing the page to share content was a bit difficult for 2nd grade students. While they quickly learned the necessary skills, I worried about the upcoming school year. I then remembered Edmodo and thought I would give a second look.
I put Edmodo into full use with my second graders and have not looked back! The tool creates a safe classroom community for students to discuss, share, and connect. The uses for Edmodo are endless! I started by utilizing it for small reading groups. Students that were in the same novel study discussed the book, completed assignments, and shared ideas with each other. I then connected a group of students from my classroom with a group from another class that was reading the same novel. We used Edmodo to share links for students to access, so that they would be saved for easy access later or from home. Edmodo provided a way for students to give feedback to each other.
If you are interested in incorporating Edmodo, the most important thing to consider is teaching your students appropriate use of the tool. I have all students sign an internet contract which varies from year to year, but gives me the ability to remove students from the website if necessary. We also spent a lot of time discussion internet safety, online communication, and cyber bullying before ever going into Edmodo. Your students are going to be excited to try out the website and harmless postings can quickly turn dangerous. It is extremely important to take the time to set up the experience, so that everyone is safe.
As a teacher, what I love about Edmodo is the ability to easily connect with other teachers. On the left are just a few of the communities which I follow. The numbers indicating new postings for me to explore.
Through these communities, I have connected with other teachers to share ideas and strategies. I can quickly ask for help or ideas within a given topic and receive feedback right away. In a search for a particular internet safety video, I received responses within 10 minutes which included the exact video I had described as "the girl receives a text messages and then you get to choose what happens." I also received links to lots of other wonderful resources related to internet safety.
To connect with me on Edmodo, click the image to the right.
Based in Doha currently, I am a technology-advocating learning junkie.