Building Enduring Mathematical Understanding, one lesson at a time.

Tech Talk: Edmodo

I played around with Edmodo last year, and I intend to increase my usage this year. I love the fact that it is self-contained within your own class/students. You can make logins available to parents, but even they don’t have the ability to post!

Initial Steps
My sixth grade “enhanced” class was my guinea pig group this year. Initially they wanted to treat it like Facebook (which they are “too young” to have, but some do anyways.) We discussed how it was different and agreed upon the following “ground rules:” Only respectful and on topic comments are appropriate. Occasionally throughout the year I took away posting privileges for a few who temporarily forgot the rules. One issue I did not plan for ahead of time was students changing their User Name to something goofy. We discussed the necessity of avoiding anonymity (even if you “know” who it is from their User Name) in our learning environment. As the teacher/moderator, I can delete any comment. Student accounts are not capable of communicating one on one with each other, only with the whole group, or to just the teacher.

Posting Homework:
I posted the homework assignment daily (well, mostly daily.) One student figured out how to set up the preferences to receive a text message reminding him about the homework and shared it with others. Next year I plan on posting homework solutions the following day, and also trying to “attach” handouts (or at least post images of the handout.)

Problem of the Week:
Every few weeks I assigned a Problem of the Week, and it was only available on Edmodo – no “handout.” I introduced the problem in class and we discussed possible strategies / starting points. On Edmodo students could give “helpful hints,” but I strongly emphasized the concept of “spoilers” and the reasons for avoiding them! There wasn’t nearly as much productive discussion as I had hoped for – vague mysterious comments, but not much guidance.

I used this feature a few times, but didn’t feel the time it took for students to take turns on the computers was worth the feedback – there are other methods that are more efficient.

Part of the way through the school year, Edmodo added a quiz feature. I looked forward to using it, but some of the computers I have in my classroom had trouble loading it – possible due to the age of the computers and the browsers? I am not sure. I plan to try this again next year, as I am in a different classroom. I POSSIBLY might allow students to use their smartphones in order to speed up the “taking turns” process.

Again, part of the way through the year, the iPad App obtained the ability to post photos either from the camera or the photo album. Since I use Keynote and take screenshots of slides all the time, this is a feature I began to use more and more. The “library” system is a bit clunky though. I would love to be able to post directly from the photo album, but you have to upload the photo to your library first.

Student Communication
This is a fabulous part of Edmodo that I didn’t take advantage of nearly as much as I could have last year. Students were able to post questions directly to me and they would pop up in my email, but in order to respond I had to go on Edmodo. While I could also send “notes” to individual students, I did not follow through on that as much as I plan to next year. I have thought about students using Edmodo to sign up for re-assessments next year, instead of my GoogleDocs Re-Assessment Request Form. That way I can reply back to them, especially if I have concerns about their level of preparation, need to re-schedule due to a conflict, or they forget to show up 🙂 I am also mulling over using it for some other communication related issues – more on that later.

How is this related to Enduring Mathematical Understanding? Hmmmm, needs more thought 🙂


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