Why I Love Edmodo

10/09/2011

 
If you are an experienced Edmodo user, nothing in this post will be new to you.  Just a warning.

I am a technology coach, a 1:1 teacher, and a frazzled science teacher with too much to teach and not enough time to teach it in (so I don't try and teach it all.....but that's for another post).  I am also an Edmodo user.  I first tried out Edmodo during my summer school courses, and found that I liked it.  Now that I am using it during the school year with all of my courses, I am head-over-heels in love with it.  I wish I had started using it last year, when I was the only 1:1 teacher on the block (there are now 10 of us in the district).

Why, you ask?  Let me count the ways:

  1. Class announcements.  Edmodo is a fantastic way to get class announcements out quickly and easily.  For some reason, students are more likely to check Edmodo than my website for announcements.  So, I use my class websites to post unit plans, resources, and basic class information, and I use Edmodo for announcements and distributing documents and other media files.
  2. Assignments.  When students turn in assignments that you post in Edmodo, you can pull up that assignment, and see students' names down the left.  Next to their name, it will tell you if the assignment has been graded or not, and it will also tell you if it hasn't been turned in.  Since I have all of my Biology classes in one large group (titled "Biology 2011-12."  I'm so creative), finding out if students have turned in the assignment or not can be a chore--unless you use the sorting drop-down menu.  You can sort by graded, not graded, not turned in, or any status.  Believe me, last year I had to check off who turned in what using my Google Docs list for 108 students, so this feature in Edmodo is a godsend to me.  
  3. Small groups.  Having all of my Biology classes as one large group has its advantages (for example, when I want to post assignments or announcements to all of them); however, sometimes I have announcements or assignments for individual classes (i.e., 4th period).  So what I did was set up each of my periods of Biology as a small group.  Then, on the home screen, I can send any post to just that group if I wish.  For example, my 4th period didn't behave very well last Friday when I was gone from class, so I posted their consequences just to them and not to my 5th or 6th periods.  Also, my 5th period sometimes needs extra help with mastery of my objectives, so I can post extra help activities just to them in Edmodo, with my other classes none the wiser. (I have also done this with individual students who must reassess on objectives; I send them their practice this way.)
  4. Quick Formative Assessments.  I love using the "Polls" feature to give a quick formative assessment, either during a lesson or at the end of class.  While these limit you to multiple-choice questions, I have found they are great ways just to get a general feel for how a class is doing while learning is taking place.  Also, feedback is instant, and there is no going through documents or papers in order to collect data--it tallies the results for you.  I have also just posted questions to each of my periods separately, and students reply to those questions as their exit slip for the day.  This makes for easy reading of their responses because, again, there are no documents or papers to go through.
  5. Grading.  Edmodo is awesome because it allows students to submit links to their various creations as assignments.  For example, students can submit links to Animoto videos, Glogs, Prezis, Google Docs, or any other type of media you can imagine.  Then, after clicking on the assignment and pulling up your list of students, clicking on each student's name pulls up the link they submitted.  You can click on the link, and then either be taken right to the website, or, in the case of Prezi or Animoto, just watch it right from Edmodo.
  6. Sharing folders from the Library.  You can create folders in your Library and add links or documents to them.  Then, you can share these folders with an entire class, small group, or individual.  This is a great way to distribute class resources.
  7. Being able to talk privately with students.  While students do have the option to e-mail me, some students are not comfortable using email just yet.  Instead, I taught everyone how to privately message me, or what Edmodo calls "Direct Post."  This way, students that wouldn't normally email me have a way to talk to me in private.  Also, it allows me to talk privately to them, because you can type in an individual student's name in the "Send to" box when typing a post.
  8. Quizzes.  I haven't played around with this too much yet, but being able to give quizzes in Edmodo is something that tickles this teacher's educational fancy.  You can choose from multiple choice, true/false, or short answer questions, pick time limits, edit previously assigned quizzes, and assign them to groups or individual students.  A screenshot of the quiz editing screen is below.

These are just a start of the reasons I love Edmodo (I could go on and on about how it allows teachers to connect and share with other teachers, but that shall have to wait for another day).  I have used other learning management systems (SchoolTown, Schoology, WebCT), but nothing matches the ease of use for instructors and students that I see in Edmodo.  Also, I love the flexibility in the types of media students can turn in as assignments--this is not the case with others I've used, such as SchoolTown. 

If you want to check out Edmodo for yourself, here are some good places to start:

Edmodo: A Guide to Everything
Edmodo: Alternative Social Media Tool for Classrooms (lots of links to other Edmodo resources on this page)
Edmodo Livebinder
Using Edmodo: High School

Also, you can check out the annotated screenshots below.  Click on each one for a larger image.
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The assignment screen in Edmodo. I wish I had used it last year; it would have made students turning in digital assignments so much easier.
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What it looks like after students take a poll. Using polls is a fast formative assessment option to use while learning is in progress.
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The main quiz editing page. Quizzes are a new feature in Edmodo. I like how you can still do "targeted sharing" with them to individuals, small groups, or large groups.
 


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