I <3 Edmodo!
After hearing about Edmodo for about a year now, finally joining it this past Spring has revitalized my homework and project assignments. As an English teacher who loves creating assignments using Word, I have always been inundated and swamped (redundant on purpose) with paper, often drowning under buckets and baskets of assignments I've created on paper. Like a turtle caught in a crab pot, I could not figure out how to get out of the paper trap (Leslee, that simile is for you! Check out her article on the dangers of terrapins and crab pots in Barnegat Bay). Edmodo is my savior & BRD that has set me free from some of the trappings of teaching English to high school students.
Free to Be Paperless
OK, I want to show you what I've done with Edmodo and going paperless. Log on to Edmodo and join the Sample Class group (group code: t7y9vh) to see the assignments.
Even if you are not ELA, think of the assignments as framework/structure that can be adapted to your subject.
- How can your assignments be cross curricular and extend beyond the bounds of your subject?
- How can your assignments use various skills?
- How can the internet be used as a resource for furthering student study?
For the Sample Class, I've loaded some tasks that were assigned to my 9th grade Honors students this past Spring when studying George Bernard Shaw's play, Pygmalion. Don't be freaked by Shaw if you don't know the play! Pygmalion is the basis for the Broadway musical My Fair Lady staring Audrey Hepburn. Using the Pygmalion myth as inspiration, Shaw's play provides valid commentary on class structure and how language and appearances segregate people. We studied Pygmalion after concluding a unit on Greek Mythology and Homer's Odyssey. Pygmalion then segued nicely into West Side Story and Romeo and Juliet. We discuss the themes of relationships, identity, dreams, aspirations, and society-- all relevant topics for 9th graders who are trying to figure out who they are and where they want to go.
The due dates for the Sample Class are obviously not real, but the due dates show the sequence of the assignments. When checking out the sample class, and so as not to get overwhelmed by the number of assignments in the newsfeed, go to Calendar and view the assignments as they are listed on the calendar. Then click on each one. Also note that the assignments would be spaced out over the course of a month. For the Sample Class, I've just posted 75% of what was assigned to my classes.
A variety of assignments have been loaded to the Sample Class from actively reading the play and answering questions to webquests to projects to worksheets to a quiz. Some assignments were designated as HW, needing only a short time to complete, and others required more time for completion. Interestingly enough, my students had a hard time figuring out how much time to spend on each assignment, thinking that all assignments on Edmodo were projects and required hours/days of deliberation. I may need to clarify this for future students.
Take a look at the Sample Class; see what there is to see. Showing is much better than telling.
Most of these assignments were traditionally handed out on paper. The worksheets I created on Word and would photocopy them. Before Edmodo, I killed quite a number of trees. Now, I'm able to enhance the worksheets by pairing them with additional links and resources. Students could watch a clip of My Fair Lady while completing a worksheet on language and dialects. Worksheets are no longer two dimensional when uploaded to Edmodo.
"The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry and leave us nothing but grief and pain for promised joy..."
I am lenient and frankly too busy to be taking off points for lateness. Instead, I give that wee bit of wiggle room, but after the 3 day grace period, the assignment becomes a zero. No excuses. Period. I also assign the work with enough time in advanced that students can plan out their schedules to designate time to complete assignments. This adjustment from traditional firm deadlines has actually helped my students to become more responsible and efficient with time and allows for problem solving to take place instead of promoting the generation of excuses.
While I adore the quiz feature, it could also be enhanced. It would be nice to scramble questions and answer choices for each student and be able to insert new questions into the already created question list. I do like that quizzes are timed and that results do not have to be immediately released to students. I really can't complain because Edmodo is FREE!!!!
I still need to learn how to efficiently use the small group feature. I got as far as assigning small groups and giving them some ungraded tasks, but I was quickly overwhelmed this Spring. Do any of my readers have tips/tricks for using small groups? I'd love to explore writing workshops and collaborative projects. I'm a wee bit leery of group projects on Edmodo because of compounding the usual list of group work complaints ("so&so does all the work"... "you know who isn't pulling his/her weight"... etc) with the technological excuses. Aside from the deadline grace period, I'm sure there are other ways to encourage responsible virtual group work. Tell me some! :-)
What was the purpose of this post?
I don't have time right to tell you that outside of the virtual classroom, Edmodo is excellent for finding teachers to network. The Language Arts community is such a valuable resource for generating ideas and collaborating with others.
And, FYI, from Twitter, Edmodo is hoping to get 1 million teachers on their site before September.