Differentiating Homework Using Edmodo

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January 22nd, 2013

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This is a guest post from Jimmy Sapia, a 4th grade teacher at Springdale Elementary School in Stamford, Connecticut. The full version of his post can be found on his blog at mrsapia.wordpress.com. If you are interested in contributing to the Edmodo Blog, please complete this form.

Edmodo is a tool that transformed how my classroom operates. While I use Edmodo for many reasons in my daily routines, this post will only focus on differentiating homework using Edmodo.

How I Use Edmodo to Differentiate Homework:

Meeting the varied needs of students in any classroom is one of the most difficult aspects of teaching. Teachers work tirelessly gathering resources, analyzing data, collaborating with grade level peers, and connecting with their Personal Learning Network on Twitter to meet the needs of their students. Differentiation requires hard work and a significant time commitment to implement it effectively. Enter Edmodo.

Using Google Docs with Edmodo

In addition to having Edmodo accounts, each student has a Google doc link, which is added to their Edmodo “backpack.” The “backpack” feature is available to all students and provides a great way for students to maintain organization of materials they upload or save. Students are the only ones that have access to these resources, so privacy is maintained.

The Google doc is an online notebook. Literacy homework usually consists of students responding to reading in an open-ended format, answering text-dependent questions, and typing reflective entries. Homework is strategically assigned and aligned to meet student’s needs.  Parents have unprecedented access to their child’s work via Google docs with teacher feedback, and can better assist in building the home/school connection to help their child grow.

The power of using the Google doc comes from students having an ongoing record of their responses, with purposeful feedback given by me that always highlights strengths, as well as offers suggestions for improvement. With the adoption of the Common Core State Standards places heavy focus of text-dependent/evidence based questions being asked, so purposeful feedback becomes a daily part of our practice. Gone are the days of just saying “Good Job,” or “Nice Work.”

Small Groups for Differentiation

Teachers can create small groups to send homework assignments to.  I have three “teams” in my class. Depending on the needs of students I can send three different homework assignments to those individual groups. It’s as simple as uploading a file from my Edmodo library, desktop, flash drive, or a link from the internet, and sending it out to the appropriate teams.

After students complete the assignment, they click “Turned-in,” and I have a record of who has submitted their work. Diving deeper, if a student needs significant readiness or enrichment activities, I can also send assignments to that student individually and not as part of a team.

Common Topics Educators Have Asked me About:

  • No Access to Tech at Home: If students do not have access to tech at home, I give them the assignment in their response notebook or worksheet.
  • Amount of Time per Assignment: Depending on the complexity of the assignment, I determine the length of time per assignment.
  • If Students Have Not Completed Required Homework on Edmodo:  If a student does not hand in their Edmodo homework because they could not log in, I will forgive them a couple of times. If it becomes a greater problem after that, I will call the parent and speak about this method of homework delivery. If it’s not feasible to complete because of after school activities or inability to log in to Edmodo, I have students complete homework in their notebook or on a worksheet.

If you have any questions or need clarification, please drop a comment below. I am always looking to improve my implementation. I’d also love to hear about the exciting ways you’re using Edmodo to reach the varied needs of your students.

14 responses to “Differentiating Homework Using Edmodo”

  1. Sean says:

    Thank you for sharing this insightful post. We need more teachers sharing their pedagogy. I am curious to know how long it takes you to grade assignments and offer meaningful feedback? I hope you continue share.

  2. Ms Ionno says:

    This was a very interesting article. Thanks for sharing. I was wondering about the Google docs “link”. Does each student have their own account and email address? Can you give more information regarding this feature and how you set it up?

  3. Jimmy says:

    Hi Sean,
    Thanks for your kind words and comment. It takes me less time to leave comments on their google docs than it does when writing comments.

    What I do is open google drive and click on the folder where all student’s google docs are housed. I then click on each google doc and type purposeful comments.

    Obviously, everything is cloud based, so google drive will be available where you have an internet connection and it’s less that I have to take home daily!

    The most powerful impact this has had is students really are taking my comments to heart and improving their responses. The students and parents love the digital portfolio it creates. Let me know if you have any questions.

    Jimmy Sapia

  4. Jimmy says:

    Hi Ms. Ionno,

    What I do is create a shared google doc in Google Drive. After I create the shared doc, it’ll give me a link. I copy the link, open Edmodo, and send the link to only that specific student. No one else will be able to see the document besides me and that student. I repeat this process for all students in my class.

    Please let me know if you have any further questions. I’d be more than happy to help.

    Jimmy Sapia

  5. Steve Rose says:

    Hi Jimmy,
    When you type comments on student papers, do you just go to the bottom of the document or do you type in your comments in a different color or something to draw attention to them in the body of the document? Do you correct spelling and grammar, and if so, how?

  6. Kevin says:

    I was wondering how students can get their google doc account into their edmodo backpack?


  7. Katie Warren says:

    Hi, Jimmy,
    Would Doctopus help with the administration of the Docs? Since you’re linking through the Edmodo backpack it may not. Just wanted to save you a little time!

  8. LottaN says:

    Very nicely explained! It sounds like a method that could be used in any classroom!

  9. Teresa Perles says:

    I have been doing this all year and I’m delighted. Definitely the way to go!

  10. Melinda Reed says:

    As a teacher trainer, I can see how I could effectively use small groups. Dividing teachers into groups would allow me to teach many teachers at once remotely on any given topic. It would almost be as if I could be in multiple places at once! Love it!!

  11. Vanessa says:

    Great post! I have not used the small groups function yet but now will actively try it as in modern language learning this is an element that has been missing. Differentiation is a difficult concept, however this personalized approach facilities well. Thank you for the blog.

  12. Elga says:

    I also wondered about using Google docs in Edmodo. My kids are also too young to have a Google account. I am an elementary school computer teacher who will be teaching about 14 classes this school year with an average of 30 students each, and putting the link in each of their backpacks could prove quite tedious. If that’s my only option, then I will have to do it, but I would much rather prefer a less tedious and time consuming solution.

    Nevertheless, I am thrilled about using the small group feature. I have been using Edmodo for several years now, but mainly to incorporate a paperless classroom, via assignments and quizzes. So I am quite looking forward to using the small group feature to facilitate differentiated learning. I am hoping that I can get this Google docs feature working and off the ground for the new school year.

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