Teacher Lee Briggs on technology in today's classroom. Brought to you by Weekly Reader.

Posts tagged ‘edmodo’

Engaging Students Through Social Networking

My love for Edmodo as a teacher knows no bounds. I have been using the education-geared social network for several months now and I really do think that it is the wave of the future. Seriously, if you are not using it now, start.

I have been having trouble getting my students to get their homework done, or to even think of doing homework. Math, it seemed, was for school; home was for TV. Then I decided to try an experiment. On our assignment notebook board I wrote: “Check Edmodo at 7pm.”  Since finding out last week that all of my students, even the most rural of farm kids, has internet access, there was no excuse not to check it. Several of my students got iPod Touches for Christmas (they seem to be the Gameboy of this generation) and they loaded their devices up with the Edmodo app (which is fantastic, by the way).

At 7 pm I posted a math question. It was the kind I used to give my students in the form of a copied mini-worksheet: a daily word problem that they, for the most part, ignore. The first night I got 8 of my 16 students replying to the question. The second night it was 11, and the third it was all of them. I got them to do work at home, after dinner, during prime time! They did not even know what the assignment was; just that it was coming.

Edmodo in action (click to enlarge)

I don’t even need to give a reward anymore; they check Edmodo on their own, casually, the same way they would check their email or Facebook. And I have to be honest, I am seeing an uptick in their interest in math, or at least in the conversations that we are having about the subject.

I am not saying that social media is the cure-all, but it does represent a form of interaction that my students are comfortable with. I am sure that I could have arguments about how this is not preparing them for the real world, or that I am pandering to my student’s anti-social, media-obsessed digital lifestyle. But I can’t argue that my students seem more interested in their subjects when they are allowed to use tools that they are familiar with and find interesting. And I have to admit, it is nice to look at my Edmodo page and see a student asking for help on a math problem after school, and then see that several of her classmates have pitched in to offer help. Tools like this are new to everyone, and I can’t wait to see how they pan out.

A Few Weeks Without Paper

For the month of December as a treat to my students, I have decided to switch off from my typical reading program and conduct good, old-fashioned literature circles. They may be old-fashioned novel studies, but instead of having my students journal in notebooks and taking home a stack of them every night to grade, I have instead decided to conduct all my journaling and grading online.

I am using Edmodo, a site that I have recently sung the praises of. Having used other online services (Moodle), I had my doubts about Edmodo’s limitations, since it runs itself more like a social network than a traditional website.

Every day, my reading groups are given a few chapters to read and a few questions to journal upon. After their reading, they post their journal responses to Edmodo, which I then grade, giving my students prompt feedback.

I have noticed a few things about running my reading program using Edmodo. For one thing, I get fantastic written responses from many of my students.  That said, many of the same students who struggle to write in my regular classroom also struggle to get their work in when online. If you think that writing on a computer will solve all your late work problems, you are wrong. It does allow you to keep better track of missing work, although the excuse of  ‘my computer ate it’ does come up.

Edmodo helps me get on top of my student’s reading responses, to provide quick feedback, and to make good assessments of student understanding and comprehension that goes well beyond multiple-choice tests. Students write mini essays, conduct polls, and respond to each other in a way far simpler than any other service I have used.

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