It’s a little unfair, but I started out a little skeptical of Edmodo, mostly because it bothered me that people mispronounced it Edumoto, and I’m slightly crazy like that. (melk instead of milk, Fresh Mart instead of Fresh Market, Panera’s for Panera–my poor family; how do they deal with me?)
So, before I jumped on, I wanted to have a justifiable instructional purpose for using it in my classroom, other than, “it looks like Facebook.” I don’t see the purpose of trying to engage students if what you’re engaging them in isn’t substantive. But I started developing what I considered substantive uses for it, and now I’m obsessed!
In addition to the built-in features, like quizzes for formative assessments and digital assignment submission, this is how I’m using Edmodo in my classroom this year:
1. Edmodo literature circles
After doing a round of live literature circles in class last year, we moved them online. I created groups for each literature circle, they chose their books, and then every student joined a conversation about the book online. It was awesome.
First of all, there was documentation of everything that was said, so I didn’t miss anything. (I found it frustrating, even though I had help from my AG teacher, to try to observe and grade multiple circles simultaneously.)
Secondly, and more importantly, it allowed us to have lots of explicit, candid conversations about how to interact with people online. We talked about stuff like how do you comment without killing a conversation?, and how do you deal with a group member who is not following the rules?
Here’s an example of a one of the many conversations my students: (this was group reading Inside Out and Back Again.)
- “On page 124, I noticed that brother Quang was getting a bit sassy with Ha’s mom. It says, ” Mother couldn’t no believe/his generosity/until Brother Quang says/ The American government/ sponsors money.” He also goes on like this in another paragraph. I was wondering why he was so angry at the Americans or the cowboy. He is giving him a chance and he doesn’t even realize it! This angered me because after all he has been through, he responds by being so negative! What are your thoughts on his actions? What drove him to be like this?”
- “I think he is being so negative all the time because of all he has been through. It would be hard for anyone to flee their country and be forced to live in a new place that is unfamiliar to them. I think he is getting stressed out because he is scared of what will come in this new country. What do you guys think?”
- “I believe he was the one that wanted Ha and himself to stay in Veitnam because of pride, if this is true I think that he hates America and doesn’t like his mom praising it for being nice when the goverment is, what he thinks is, pity money.”
- “I agree with Andy he felt like he betrayed Vietnam by leaving so he is not going to feel love for any other country besides Vietnam. Also I think dislikes America because American pulled out of the war leaving South Vietnam to fend on it’s on. So he probably thinks it’s America’s fault for the colapse of South Vietnam and the reason they had to move.”
- “I see what all of you guys are saying, and I would feel the same as him, but I think that he should be the least bit grateful because the Americans are giving him a home, and a new opportunity from his old corrupt home, not to mention college. Wouldn’t you be the least bit grateful?”
- “I think that he should be grateful for ANY opportunity he gets, but at the same time, this stanza basically says that the money they are receiving is, like Andy said, pity money for easing the guilt after losing the war. Though I can see the situation like you do Manali where Brother Quang should be grateful they are not dead, at the same time, money can never replace the loss of something you love so dearly.”
2. Edmodo book talks:
So…I don’t have tenure yet, (which I will never get, for that matter–thank you NC Legislature), so I’m not quite daring enough to have my kids use Twitter, considering almost all of them are currently under 13. So although we can’t join an international community of young readers on Twitter because of my unrelenting need to follow all rules set before me , we can establish a team-wide community of young readers on Edmodo.
Each time one of my students finishes reading a book, (for their 40 Book Challenge–thanks Donalyn Miller!), they post a 140 character “book talk” to our Edmodo group. Whichever class period has the most book talks, in other words, reads the most books, will get a party at the end of the quarter. In week 2 of school, I’ve already got kids really engaged in conversations about books online. I’d love to do more of this during class-time, but I can never seem to find the time, so this tool is helping me to make these conversations a priority.
Through this activity, my students are
- Learning to talk about the books they’re reading concisely and collaboratively
- Creating a place to find book recommendations from their friends
- (Hopefully) inspired to read more due to the spirit of competition
- Learning to use new literacies they already have in a productive way
- Learning how to interact online in a positive manner
- Hopefully more objectives that I haven’t thought of!
Here are some examples of student book talks:
- “Things Not Seen by Andrew Clements is about a boy named Bobby who wakes up one morning to find out he has disappeared. #bestbookever”
- “Cinder by Marissa Meyer: Futuristic take on a classic tale. Cinder isn’t what people think. Even she doesn’t know! Not just a cyborg…”
THINGS I HATE AND CAN’T SEEM TO FIND A SOLUTION FOR!
How do you teach kids to use capitalization and correct punctuation online??? No matter how many times I blab on about it, kids can’t seem to wrap their minds around it! Any suggestions for getting kids to code switch online are welcome!!!