Whatʻs better than hearing from peers about how an educational tool is transforming learning in their classroom? That’s just what happened when a group of teachers from our Kamehameha Hawaiʻi Elementary and Middle Schools got together to “talk story” about Edmodo. The group consisted of beginner, intermediate, and advanced Edmodo users as well as teachers who have never used Edmodo and wanted to learn more. As I write this post, I am wishing I would have recorded the conversations, but since I didn’t, I’ll do my best to recap some of the sharing that went on.
Mr Bowman, 6th grade Social Studies teacher and team leader, has been using Edmodo for the last couple of years as a course management system. This year he created a group for the entire 6th grade in order to communicate important school information. In this group, small groups were also created for each advisory. All 6th grade students, teachers, and parents were invited to join the group. The planner is populated with school activities as well as special events. Advisory teachers are able to send information to just their advisories or to the entire 6th grade when relevant. The educational assistant posts to the entire group at the beginning of the week a “sneak peek” of events and reminders for the week. Parents are able to access the calendar and see what’s happening at school. But what is so cool about Mr. Bowman creating the group is it resulted in teachers experiencing how Edmodo can used and how easy Edmodo is. Many of the 6th grade teachers who were not using Edmodo are now using it not only to send information to their advisories, but as a course management system in their classroom.
Mrs. Kirsch, 6th grade Art teacher, started using Edmodo this school year. She wanted to start small and decided in August she would learn one feature in Edmodo. She shared with the teachers her Edmodo group and how it’s transformed her class. She’s set up her group so if a student sends her a direct message, she gets a text on her phone. If the message is something that she feels needs to be addressed, she can respond right there and then. If not, she knows the student has a questions and is able to provided individualized instruction when needed. She also likes that she can access Edmodo from her computer, phone, and iPad. It’s ubiquitous. She shared how some of the artists students are learning about in Middle School have created pieces that might not necessarily be appropriate for students their age so she uses the Edmodo library to share the art that is appropriate. One of the teachers who was not an Edmodo user came up to me later and said, “Wow! I loved hearing about how [Mrs. Kirsch] learned Edmodo. I think I can do that!”.
Ms. Richardson, Elementary Technology Teacher, uses Edmodo to collaborate with schools around the world. Her class, and the class she is collaborating with, are put into a large group and then small groups are created that students use to get to know each other better. Her 5th grade students worked with 12th grade students at our Kapālama campus last year. The 12th graders created weebly websites based on questions posed by the 5th graders. This was done using skype and Edmodo. Her students also collaborated on poems with another class located in Baltimore using Edmodo and Google docs.
Mrs. Chang, Elementary Science Teacher, is new to using Edmodo and tried it out because she was out sick and had a sub that day. She was able to put her lesson up in Edmodo and her sub plan was basically to have students log into edmodo and complete the assignment. Luckily, Ms. Richardson uses Edmodo so the students already were familiar with it. Even though she was home, she logged in during class time and was able to respond to student questions right there and then. As a teacher, we all know how sometimes it’s just easier to go to work sick than to create sub plans, but through using Edmodo, not only are sub plans easier, but the day is not wasted.
Here’s some additional Edmodo awesomeness that was shared:
- Sometimes students forget to press submit when turning in an assignment or they respond to the assignment and post their work for the entire class rather than submitting via the assignment. Reminding students how to submit assignments is important.
- Awarding badges is great incentive for students.
- Using polls is awesome for formative assessment.
- Create a fake student and parent account if you’re just getting started so you can see what parents and students see. Their view is different than the teacher view.
- Using Edmodo cuts down on paperwork and saves a lot of time
- Using the library is great because you can add your own content but also pull content from other Edmodo users library and put it in your own
- Edmodo communities are a great place to ask questions and for lesson ideas
- Edmodo is a great way to teach students social network skills. There are many lessons to be learned in a SAFE environment.
As far as a means for Professional Development for teachers, this Edmodo sharing was invaluable. It was teachers learning from teachers. Those non Edmodo users who were in attendance are now Edmodo users who not only have me, the instructional technology specialist, to go to for extra help, but their peers as well. We’re going to continue this Edmodo Community of Practice. Stay tuned!