Thursday, August 8, 2013

Edmodocon 2013

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to participate in a world wide conference with 25,000 attendees from 170 countries.  I didn't spend long hours in airports or on trains to get there.  I did it from the comfort of my own living room.  Edmodocon took place on the west coast, but almost all of us were on-line attendees.  Even some of the presenters gave their presentations from distant locations.

If you are not familiar with Edmodo, it is a website that works much like Facebook, but it is for educational use, and it is safe and secure to use with students.  Students use a code to access the group.  No one else can get in.  Here is a very quick overview of the website.

I have used Edmodo for the past three years.  I was already aware that I had barely tapped it's potential. We have used it mainly for book discussion and to do webquests.   Edmodocon made me aware of just how much potential there really is, and it's amazing!

Edmodo is a fantastic way to engage and empower students to take responsibility for their own learning. I witnessed my students enthusiam for using Edmodo in May.   Last year was not a very good school year for me.  Because of an accident, I missed more than five weeks of school recovering from a fractured ankle and foot.  We had a new reading series and lots of curriculum changes, and my school district is heavy into testing, so I was very stressed.  For those reasons, I did not introduce my students to Edmodo until almost the end of the year, after all the testing was done.

We had a story in our reading book about spiders, so my goal was to do a webquest, and give the kids an opportunity to research and read about spiders.  I showed one reading group how to use the website.  They taught the rest of the class.  When the first group was learning, the rest of the class was practically climbing over their desks to see what we were doing in reading group.  For the next three days, students shared their learning, carried on discussions about spiders, and figured out how to post links to the websites they were finding, so that everyone could see them.  The class was totally engaged!

This was an epiphany for me.  This is why I teach!  I made a pledge to myself, that in spite of district requirements for pretesting, post testing, common core or whatever, I will keep these kinds of learning experience at the forefront of my students' educational experiences.  One of my goals for the summer was to learn how to use Edmodo more effectively, and to introduce it to students and parents early in the new school year.

At Edmodocon, Patrick Fogharty talked about shifting students into collaborative and creative roles, and that is exactly what I want to do.   One idea I really liked was to have students create videos to teach the class.  I can see that working well with math.  It would also be a great way to share book talks and book recommendations with the class.

My first goal, when I get back to school, will be to make sure we have the Edmodo app on all our iPads and that we have shortcuts on all the laptops.

Here are just some of the possibilities that I need to explore:
  • Use Edmodo to communicate with parents.  Provide parents with a code that enables them to see what their student is doing and saying.
  • Edmodo has a Classroom Planner to organize projects and due dates. Use it.
  • Digital Citizenship resources are available. Use them to plan lessons the first weeks of school.
  • Use badges to award students for their hard work.
  • Use Google Docs, Evernote and Edmodo together.
  • Embed Padlet (which used to be called Wallwisher) for brainstorming and discussion.
  • Give quizzes using Edmodo
  • Use Edmodo for homework, and run a computer lab for students without internet access
  • Explore some of the new apps that Edmodo has added, including Go-Animate (though to be honest, this is probably too expensive for me to invest in)
  • Explore Gobstopper, which is an e-reader.
  • Participate in the Global Read Aloud
  • Join some of the Edmodo on-line communities
  • Collaborate on a project with students from another school
That's a lot!  That ought to keep us busy.  Are you an Edmodo user?  What are your favorite projects and uses for this fantastic website?

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