In my last school, I had a blog. It was a good blog and I am proud of what I could achieve with it. The problem was engagement. Some of my students ‘forgot’ the address or did not visit very often. They also complained that it was hard to sort through which posts were about their class. We call them digital natives but they don’t know how tags work. They need to be taught, in a way I never needed.
At my new school (I started a year ago), I asked my new class if they would like a blog and they suggested edmodo “it’s facebook for teachers!”
Well, I know some teachers who use facebook with their classes. I don’t feel good about asking a child to sign up to facebook if they have not done so already.
Edmodo is everything I want in a school-home contact website. Not only do my students have access to the information which involves their class without sorting through tags but it reminds them about upcoming assignments. I can grade them on there and they can submit work through there. I just worked out how to write quizzes which was exciting! Plus, their parents can get log ins too.
One of the most powerful applications of the site is flipping my classroom. I can leave videos and other resources up to be viewed as homework. There are other education apps that link up, so I can use them without making my students sign up for yet another account on yet another website.
The downsides are that none of the other teachers at my school are active anymore (A few have accounts). So when I make my students go on Edmodo, it is just for me and some of the older teens resent it. If the rest of my colleagues were on there, I think my classes would feel a lot less hassled. There are also situations where the other teachers make agreements about how to help disorganised students remember they have homework. In order to go with the flow and be a good team player, I have promised to put my homework assignments on the board at the start of my lesson and make sure students write the details into a book. Left to my own devices, I feel like having all my students log in to check homework (and inviting parents to check on there if they suspect their child has ‘forgotten’ a task), is just as good if not better.
I haven’t had students physically write down homework for years. I get them to take a photo with their camera phone or tablet if they need a record outside of edmodo.
Flipping my classroom is exciting and I am not all the way there yet. Edmodo is instrumental in making resources available outside of class but the limiting factor is making the resources myself. It is not that I don’t have time, it’s just that I feel like I need the input of students to make my instruction work for them. I can talk about waves for five minutes and illustrate it nicely. But giving instruction in the classroom means that I see their frowny faces or their hands up, so I can modify my instruction for their needs. I also get to ask questions. I also get left-field queries that send us down the rabbit hole and into areas they are interested in. So, it’s a mental block rather than anything else.
One thing that surprised me about Edmodo and something I would not want to give up, was how my younger students use it to interact with each other about science. They leave links to videos and comment on updates. It is really exciting to see them working together outside of class on what we are studying. I am not sure how to get the older classes into doing this. It might be their age (feeling too cool for school), in which case, I don’t think it is a battle I can win.