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I am always looking for new and innovative ways to enhance my teaching and my classroom. Preferably ways which aren’t too expensive. As an elementary classroom teacher, I also have to be careful with what my students are exposed to.
To this I have one word. Edmodo.
Oh, how I have fallen in love with this great tool!
Let’s face it. Our kids are more plugged in than ever, and sometimes not in a good way. The internet is a wonderful wealth of knowledge, but can also be a massive black hole full of things that kids don’t need to be exposed to. Facebook, Twitter, Vine, Tumblr and sometimes even Pinterest can have all kinds of poor influences on kids if not monitored or blocked. If we all lived in a bubble, grown ups could be monitoring digital activity 24/7. But that’s just not the reality. Couple that with three year olds knowing how to navigate an iPad and five year olds shooting texts from their parents’ phones, and as teachers, well we have a tall order to fill.
I knew that the middle school and high schools around me were all going to digital assignments. Students write papers and submit them to teachers via email. Classrooms are flipped, so students are assigned to watch videos to be prepared for class the next day. The digital world is now part of the education world.
My question this summer was what about the jump from elementary to middle school? How are those kids prepared to focus on using their digital knowledge for school and not just for fun? Sure, some elementary classrooms are assigning Power Point presentations, but is that really enough?
So I set out on a journey to find the right solution to my quandary. I thought about just setting up Google accounts for my kids, but then, I wasn’t sure that was going to be as safe as I wanted it to be. I thought about just doing a private Facebook for our classroom, but Facebook was a bit too social for what I was wanting to accomplish.
So I posted my comment to The Educators Room writers, and several had mentioned that they use Edmodo for their high school and middle school classrooms. Would it work for an elementary classroom? I decided to take a look at it.
Wow. What an amazing tool. And it’s free!
I set up our classroom in less than an hour. Which is saying a lot because I am not digitally savvy by any stretch of the imagination.
At our parent orientation meeting, I introduced Edmodo to the parents and passed out the information they would need to log in. During our first day of school I introduced Edmodo to my multi level classroom kiddos. They were absolutely pumped! One of my fifth graders made a video that evening and figured out how to post it for his group. Several of the other kids were already posting pics for their friends. It was so exciting for me as a teacher to see all the notifications pop up.
During the first two weeks of school this year, I have posted quizzes for this kids to take, pictures of activities we have done, loaded games to our library that reinforces core content, loaded apps to groups to practice skills, posted polls for the kids to participate in and sent out communication about upcoming assignments. Edmodo has a calendar where I can plug in the entire year at a glance, including our lunch menu and parents can set up their own account to monitor activity as well.
I have instructed my students that they are to use proper English grammar and structure when communicating. No BRB or L8TR or U for the word ‘you.’ I am looking for capital letters at the beginning of sentences, punctuation at the ends of sentences and proper spelling of words. I pull up our Edmodo classroom at the end of our day and reward kids for taking quizzes, polls, using correct grammar and posting pictures and videos. They are absolutely enjoying all aspects of this new found classroom friend.
I’d love to hear about how Edmodo has enhanced your classroom!