Wednesdays with Bret!
In case you missed me bragging about it, my school year is already over and I am currently enjoying my summer break-and yes, I am rubbing it in 🙂 That being the case, I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on this year and what’s been good about it. The word that keeps popping up in my mind?—Edmodo. This was my first year to use the site and I can safely say that the way I teach is completely different because of it. You see, Edmodo is much more than an LMS or blog, but an incredible community where both students and teachers learn how to… well, learn. I’ve come to understand that things are different in the classroom now, that rows no longer work, that students don’t really want to hear me talk too much, that poster boards do not count as creative applications of learned concepts and that sharing your work with someone in Spain or Chicago is way cooler than hanging it on the room’s bulletin board. And I literally learned all of this from Edmodo – every bit. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t even looking for a site like Edmodo when I stumbled across a link I found for it in Glogster. In fact, when I first came to it, I thought, “This is cool, but I probably won’t use it.” I’m so glad I was wrong about that. Before Edmodo, I heard a lot of stuff about having a student centered classroom and because I didn’t really know what that looked like, I developed a ‘sour-grapes’ attitude toward achieving such a thing, justifying why I shouldn’t. It is amazing when you just stumble upon something that makes you become the teacher you always hoped you’d be. For that Edmodo, please accept my deepest thanks.
To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, I decided to do a ‘before and after’ shot at what Edmodo has done to change my teaching-I hope it inspires similar change in any teachers who are riding the fence on this issue.
I would stand in front of the room when reading a story or passage, read it to the students and then explain what they were supposed to understand and feel when reading the selection
I have students go to a prepared Glogster to listen to a recording of the passage while they read it. Meanwhile, I am chatting with them in Edmodo and asking open ended questions that cause them to explore what they read. I do not ‘say’ a word.
After that, I use Prezi to have a class discussion. I did a review on this not too long ago, so I won’t go too in depth about this. Basically, I give one member in a group editing access and let them contribute their group’s responses to the passage to my Prezi. The class sees the change instantly and real discussion begins. I say very little.
I printed a ton of worksheets for grammar, reading, writing-you name it. I’m a bit of a granola-organic nut so it physically hurt me to do this, plus the paper that I so painfully run off was not well received by my students as worksheets are boring!
Edmodo gets Crocodoc! Seriously amazing-if there is any “worksheet” that I have to use, I can put it in Edmodo and it is viewable without navigating away, leaving my students able to chat about the concepts in the form and even add their own material. Very cool.
You can also link to great sites like Spelling City or subscribe your group to podcasts like Grammar Girl and really change the way your students acquire skills.
I did all vocabulary through word walls. While this practice is not bad (I still do it) it can be even better with Edmodo. Before, I would pass out little slips of paper with the vocabulary words on it and have my students add them to the wall in the noun, verb and adjective sections…and then be done with it.
Completely different experience when you go web-based. First, I have my students create videos using their words in Animoto. As these have embed codes, the students can put them directly in Edmodo for the class to watch. After that, I create a poll in Edmodo where students can vote for their favorite video.
Create your own video slideshow at animoto.com.
As for the word wall thing, we make one together using Giffy. It’s a collaborative diagram maker where I can start a graphic organizer and add my students as editors to. I then send them the link in Edmodo and let them manipulate the field and sort words in ways that make sense to them. This also has an embed code so the students can embed each of their interpretations of how to organize the words to their class in Edmodo-a web-based word wall!
These are just a few examples of what I mean. I could keep going, but I’m pretty sure I’m using up enough space as it is. You get the idea right? And I also want to add, that all the sites that I mentioned I heard about from community members in Edmodo which is probably the most valuable aspect of the site. I’ve been truly humbled by the incredibly giving and helpful people I’ve met in the community groups. Thank you all of you; you prove that we are right about 21st century education and that the changes in education are good, led by good people.
I can’t say enough about how amazing this year has been. I am a better teacher because of a website and I am not ashamed to admit it. If you know teachers who are tired of the same ol’-same ol’-would you recommend Edmodo? They might have fun at work again and that ain’t a bad thing (can you tell I’m from Texas yet?).
Thanks again for checking this out-until next time friends.