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Sunday, May 1, 2011

Edmodo:The Total Classroom Solution

In a digital world where we can easily "find an app for that" to help solve many problems, rarely do teachers have a one stop shopping place for all their classroom digital needs. There are many individual tools that can aid a teacher in retrieving student's digital work, polling/quizzing students or assigning work, but each of these tools usually requires a separate account. However, there is one, free, Web 2.0 app that brings everything together that you need for your classroom, including a social learning environment. The app that does all of this is called Edmodo. Here are just a few features that make Edmodo so great for teachers and students:
  • A place to assign and turn in work: The teacher can attach any file they may need for an assignment (rubric, worksheet, etc.) and students can upload any file to turn in their work. Links and embed codes can also be used to publish and share work easily.
  • A calendar to help students keep up with important dates: Assignment due dates, dates you'll be out, holidays, classroom birthdays or anything you can think of to post. Studentscan also add their own personal notes to dates that only they can see. The notes the students add to the calendar are not published to the class.
  • A digital library that will replace a student's flash drive: They can upload files into their "digital backpack" and download them when on any computer. The teacher can add necessary files to their library as well.
  • A place to post messages--urgent or not: Only teachers and students can interact with one another, student to student messages are not allowed. This feature is the most powerful and it's what makes Edmodo a "social LEARNING network." This feature looks and works a lot like a "wall" on Facebook.
  • A parent connection: every student is assigned a parent code so that parents can connect with the teacher on Edmodo, check grades and see posts to the class by the teacher and their child.
  • Groups: Teachers can create groups for classes, parents, study groups or connecting with distant classrooms. This feature keeps students safe and contains content only specific to certain groups. When students sign up for an account they don't need an email address, just the group code to join groups set up by their teachers.

Although, there are a lot more features to discuss, these are the cornerstone of what makes Edmodo so great for the classroom! Did I mention it looks a little like Facebook? Here is a screen shot of my 3rd period's Edmodo page:

If you would like to see some examples of how we've been using Edmodo in the classroom, here is our public page.



You might be asking, "where do all the great online tools I use everyday fit into using Edmodo?" Well, that's easy...any Web 2.o tool that allows your students to create a project and generate an embed code to publish it on a website, can be shared on Edmodo. Animoto, Glogster, Wallwisher, Cover it Live, Voki and many other great Web 2.0 apps can be incorporated into Edmodo, which brings it all together in the classroom. Here are some suggestions of ways to use these awesome tools within Edmodo:
  • Embed Wallwisher walls into the notes area for a brainstorming session
  • Post Animoto videos or Glogster posters into the notes area, then have students reply to at least 3 seperate posts to give peer to peer feedback on other students work
  • Embed a Cover it Live, live blogging, window to engage students in a moderated session where everyone shares their thoughts while watching a live event (presidential speech, classroom video, etc.)
  • Embed a Fotobabble in the notes area to reflect on a field trip that the whole class can hear. Each student can listen to each person's reflection to hear different experiences and perspectives of the trip.
I really do love Edmodo and my students enjoy the interaction it brings in the classroom. Whether you're a math teacher or an art teacher, Edmodo can be used effectively to accomplish your objectives. So if you haven't jumped on the Edmodo bandwagon, now is the time or your classroom is going to be left behind!

Resources:
Kim Munoz is a middle school Technology teacher at Jane Long Middle School in Bryan, Tx. Jane Long is a Title 1 campus that has been apart of a 1:1 laptop program. She has presented at TCEA as well as at the EdTech Unconference, an online conference that is now called the Teacher Learning Community. You can find her sharing resources on her classroom blog as well as on Twitter (@techmunoz) and Skype (kmunoz98).




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