I am so excited to announce that I have been selected as a presenter at the European Council of International Schools’ (ECIS) Technology conference. My presentation will be called Using Technology to Create Community. I will be talking about creating community on three levels:
Level 1 – Inside your classroom
Level 2 – Within your school and/or district
Level 3 – Connecting with a global community
My presentation date is March 15th, and right before the event, I have a special way I’d like to get all of the teachers in the “blogosphere” and beyond to truly show those at the conference what a global community can do for teachers and students. I’ll have more details on this February 27th. In the meantime, each week, I will be sharing with you all some of the websites I will be discussing in my presentation. All of the websites allow students to build community through their interactive properties. I would love any feedback you could give me on these sites including ways you have used them, ways you’d like to use them, issues you have had or that you see as a possibility in using these sites, how each site might work at different ages etc.
The first website I am going to discuss is Edmodo. Many teachers that I know use Edmodo for secondary students (middle and high school). However, at the school where I teach (International School of Morocco), we are using Edmodo with students as young as first grade. Edmodo is basically an online classroom. The kids think of it as “Facebook for School”. You can post discussion questions, quizzes, polls and activities. Students can respond to your questions, complete confidential quizzes or work through activities. When students take quizzes, you get instant results, including graphs breaking down which questions were the most missed by your students. I generally use quizzes for homework, so when I walk in the next morning, I know exactly where to start my lesson, because the data is right in front of me.
The reason I love Edmodo so much is because it allows me to continue interacting with my students after the day is over, without much effort on my part. All of my students’ homework is posted on Edmodo. Thanks to their amazing scheduling system, I create it all on Sunday and the posts go out each day as scheduled. My students respond to posts or take quizzes to complete their homework and I get an e-mail when they do their homework. Thanks to my outlook folders, these e-mails are sent to a specific folder and I know right away if anyone is stuck or needs help etc.
Edmodo creates class community by taking things that were once individual activities and presenting them to the group for open response. For example, instead of a reading log, each night my students post a response to the question “What are you reading tonight? What is it about? What text connections have you made with your reading.” All of the students answer on the same post, so they can see how their answers are similar or different to their classmates. They also can (and do) respond to their classmates, letting them know if they have read the same book or had a similar connection.
You can also create small groups within Edmodo and thereby differentiation is much easier. As a teacher of a multi-age class, this make sending the right information to the right students easy as pie.
Another great feature of Edmodo is the ability to upload documents and websites. You can make these available to the entire class, a small group or specific students. Gone are the days when students can forget their homework or lose the project sheet, that information is now available to them on any computer or iPad they have access to. My parents love it because if someone is sick or traveling, there’s no need to come to the school for homework – everything they need is on Edmodo.
Yes, Edmodo even has an iPad app, which has proved extremely useful for my students when it was time for internet research. All I had to do was create an activity with the project sheet (if you upload it in google docs they can type right on it), and the websites I wanted them to use for their research (with a kid-friendly search engine thrown in for websites outside the realm of the assigned sites.) Then, my students could grab the iPad in the classroom, hop on one of the computers in the lab or log in on their laptops at home and voila they had all of the information to do their research projects.
In addition to creating community for my class, Edmodo also provides me with a community of educators. There are many forums that allow me to post questions, collaborate with other teachers and network within a community of caring educators. If you’re on Edmodo, please feel free to connect with me there. I’d also love it if you leave a comment here about how you use Edmodo in your classroom.