Sunday, October 7, 2012

Getting the most out of Edmodo

Now that all students in grades 3-8 have access to a computer for all of their classes, many teachers are moving forward with integrating new technologies into their instruction.  One programs that is being widely used by teachers in the district is Edmodo.  Edmodo is a learning management system (LMS) or platform that is used for conducting classes in which all or many students have an internet enabled device.  Edmodo was developed specifically for teachers working in 1:1 classrooms (classrooms where all students have computers).  Edmodo is a robust program that can be used to facilitate group discussions, give quizzes and exams, connect with other classrooms anywhere in the world, give polls, collect digital assignments, and much more.  Given the usefulness of Edmodo in a wide range of instructional contexts, we are providing ongoing training and support for all teachers with this program.

This week as I worked with teachers in the different schools I had the opportunity to discover some of the ways that teachers were using Edmodo.  One example was Mrs. Mrak at the elementary school having all students in her class share their unique ways of applying target vocabulary. This occurred as the students typed responses to a writing prompt into Edmodo which were then immediately viewable by all the other students in the class. This activity provided an opportunity for the students to kickstart their creativity and innovation by having access to the work of other students working on the same task. At the middle school Mrs. Hudlow was planning out how she will use Edmodo to digitally manage long term science projects in a way that will lessen the need for teachers and students to manage large amounts of physical paper. Using Edmodo to manage this process will introduce efficiencies that will free up student time and energy which can be applied to the analysis, synthesis, and self guided learning that are the focus of these projects.

At the middle school Mrs. Williams was using Edmodo for bell ringers.  A bell ringer is a question posed to students at the beginning of class and is often based on the previous day’s instruction.  Students responded on their computers and then were able to find out immediately if their answer was right or wrong.  Perhaps the most beneficial aspect of this was that Mrs. Williams was able to see immediately how the class as a whole performed on the question and then re-teach or emphasize concepts as necessary.  Here is a short clip from Mrs. William's class.

At the high school Mr. Wise has been using Edmodo to give frequent quizzes to gauge student learning.  Similar to Mrs. Williams, he and the students find it useful to look at data from the quizzes to see what concepts are being mastered and which concepts students may need more experience with.  Here are a few clips from Mr. Wise’s class.

Finally, as a way to support collaboration and social learning, Mr. Warembourg at the high school is exploring ways to facilitate a process using Edmodo whereby students can give peer feedback on a film review assignment.  By setting up this type of activity Mr. Warembourg will give all of his students the opportunity to learn from the perspectives of their peers in addition to getting feedback from their teacher.

As you can see tools like Edmodo can change the learning environment in powerful ways. This occurs as a result of technology: enabling all students in a class to engage and participate (rather than just one or two that a teacher can call on), giving students instant feedback on their work which is when it is most meaningful, and allowing teachers to immediately gauge what all students in a class know so that they can adjust their instruction to be more effective.

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