Teacher Spotlight: Lisa Butler, Hershey Middle School
Posted by: Lucia Giacomantonio
Today, we’re pleased to launch “Edmodo Spotlight,” a new blog series that features an Edmodo teacher, school or district. If you are interested in being featured, please send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org. Here is our first Edmodo spotlight!
Edmodo Teacher Spotlight: Lisa Butler
- Name: Lisa Butler
- Grade level & subject area: Middle School Spanish
- School: Hershey Middle School
Why did you start using Edmodo?
I teach in a classroom where students have access to technology, so I needed a way to streamline their interactions with technology. In the past I utilized a mix of tools (blog, Moodle, Diigo, Symbaloo) before I gratefully discovered Edmodo.
Previously the daily agenda and assignment descriptions were provided on the blog, but they had to go to Moodle to turn work in. Older digital content was stored on Diigo and students could search for the link they needed. Edmodo makes it easy for teachers to organize resources and for students to find and turn in assignments. Now my students don’t have to keep track of where to look; they automatically check Edmodo.
How do you integrate Edmodo into your classroom? Are there any interesting projects or examples you’d like to share?
Edmodo is home base. Each day I post the daily agenda, necessary resources, and/or links. The students know to login and check as soon as they enter the classroom. If they miss class for any reason, they can easily catch up on assignments and/or classwork. Students don’t have to try and track down resources from various websites; they know exactly where to look to find what they need. They also know when things are due or upcoming because of the calendar I manage for each of class.
Resources from across the web can be integrated into Edmodo – either with an embed code or as a link. I flip grammar lessons for my students. While the screencasts are uploaded to YouTube, I don’t necessarily want students clicking randomly on YouTube. I love that the videos can be embedded in Edmodo for the students to easily access.
Posting content for class is not limited to the teacher. Students are able to create games and multimedia products. If the product has an embed code, it can be posted on the Edmodo wall. When students have found great authentic resources on their own, then shared it on Edmodo, we were able to incorporate the items into a lesson enhancement.
What effect has using Edmodo had on your students/classroom?
Edmodo has made it easier for all students to be active in their education. Students who tend to be quiet sometimes have a greater voice in the online environment. There is no confusion from the teacher standpoint about exactly what students know and are able to do. I can find evidence for their levels of understanding through polls, replies to posts, assignments, or quizzes. Because of all the communication options, Edmodo also removes the confusion from the student perspective. Students can take advantage of the Direct Message feature and ask a teacher for clarification. They do not have to wait until the next class period and they do not need to be fearful of peer ridicule based on their question. Teachers can push out alerts and messages to an individual, a group, and/or parents. The increased communication has positively affected my classroom.
How has using Edmodo made your job easier?
Edmodo has made the organization of teacher and teaching resources easier. Links, embed codes, files, etc. can be placed into folders and arranged. The entire folder can be shared (or unshared) with a group or multiple groups with a click. The resources in the library are saved from year to year. There are other organizational options like tags and the ability to save an entire post. My goal for this year is to make better use of these additional options.
Edmodo has also made giving quick and specific feedback to every student easy and possible. Previously I used GoogleDocs and Moodle, but it was cumbersome to find work from each student, open it, and leave comments. Edmodo keeps the entire process localized.
Edmodo has also extended the classroom. Learning occurs beyond the scheduled time in class. As a teacher, I can post even when I will not be physically present in class. Leaving lesson plans for a substitute is easier. The sub has a physical copy of the agenda and broad description of what the students will be working on. The specific agenda for the students is posted on Edmodo with all the resources they need to be successful. Students are able to accomplish more with a substitute since I do not have to leave busywork as filler. I can access Edmodo from anywhere I have an Internet connection, so I can respond to student questions about tasks almost as quickly as if I was physically in the room.
What features do you use the most and why?
Of my favorite three features, I’ve already mentioned two (the communication elements and folders). My other favorite is badges. Sometimes students need extrinsic motivation, and badges serve the purpose. I wrote a blog post last year that described how I have incorporated badges “Badges Gone Wild” Badges are also motivating for teachers – and they are harder to earn so they are more valuable.
Are there any other comments you want to share?
If multiple teachers in your district are going to use Edmodo, the best option is to pursue a district domain (and my IT Director agrees). The first year we rolled out Edmodo en masse, we had a few students who created their own teacher accounts so they could award themselves badges and communicate with their friends. This possibility is eliminated by a district domain which needs approval for all teacher accounts.
I’ve presented at conferences, taught a graduate class, and informally discussed educational technology with other teachers. A question that is frequently asked is “what assurances do we have that a tool will stay free or continue to be supported?” I value the fact that during EdmodoCon, the founders of Edmodo stated that their goal is to continue to provide a free resource for schools and teachers to utilize, but I think the question being asked by teachers is wrong. I think there is a better question: “is this what is best for students right now?” People don’t want to move their resources over if it is not permanent.
The world of technology and learning technologies changes rapidly, which is not a bad thing, but we should not plan for ten years out. Instead, we should focus on today. Edmodo provides a comfortable learning environment that meets teachers’ and students’ needs today.