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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

TUIT: Kate Herrick and Lillie Hall, WMS

I arrived at Wright Elementary on Monday and have been settling into my new embedded home for the next three weeks: the library.   That means it's time for a new Instagram photo!

A photo posted by Adam Watson (@watsonedtech) on
Meanwhile, as I just begin my whole-school PD and plan for some classroom observations with the Jets, I wanted to give one more West Middle School #ShelbyTUITshoutout.  As I mentioned in previous entries, WMS had an unusual amount of teachers that paired together to tackle an edtech tool....which leads us to English teachers Kate Herrick and Lillie Hall.  Ms. Herrick is a first year teacher, working with veteran educator Ms. Hall.  They have partnered together to integrate Edmodo into their classrooms.

For those that don't know, Edmodo is a Learning Management System (LMS).   Student sign up is simple, and teachers can easily reset passwords of enrolled students.  In Edmodo, a teacher can make and assign a quiz, create assignments and have students submit work, have discussions via forum posts, send alerts of upcoming deadlines and important news, and maintain a calendar of events.   Last but not least, a teacher can upload files in a library so digital media can be shared.

But there are other uses for Edmodo.  As Ms. Herrick explains, "In my instruction, I plan to use Edmodo both inside and outside of class to allow students to respond to written prompts or to watch short clips, view images, or read short texts to develop background knowledge for class the following day." In other words, Edmodo will help create a blended and flipped classroom experience.

The site also continues to improve.  There is now an Edmodo "app store" (some free, some for a fee) that allows another level of interaction with and between students.  Recently, Edmodo added a built-in assessment tool called Snapshot that can automatically generate Core Content-related questions and give teachers valuable data on their students' proficiency.

An overall class example of Snapshot results.

Still, some parents may balk at Edmodo because of its perceived social media appearance, especially for younger students.  Ms. Herrick addressed these concerns in a letter to parents, which read in part:

Edmodo can be accessed through downloading the app or simply by visiting Edmodo looks like Facebook, making it familiar and exciting for students, but it is not a social media site. Some of the features include:

1.  Students can direct message me, the teacher, at any time with questions or for homework help; however, students cannot message each other. This is a great way to open up communication between me and students without offering a “social media” type communication between students.
2.   Edmodo allows for online discussion, giving students an authentic audience for their writing and an opportunity to engage in written communication with each other.  As a class, we have established norms for what our “cyber behavior” should look like. If students cannot follow the norms, they will lose privileges of Edmodo and will be faced with appropriate consequences, just like with any other unacceptable behavior in the classroom.

3.      My favorite feature of Edmodo is that it allows guardians access to see what both I and the student post on the site. For privacy reasons, guardians can see only what their individual students respond. I will soon be reaching out to guardians with directions on how to access Edmodo with a “parent code.”

I agree with Kate on #3: when I used Edmodo the last few years I was a high school English teacher, this was also one of my favorite features. Each student that enrolls in a class gets a corresponding parent code (accessible by the teacher), so a parent can register and see his/her child's Edmodo classes on their own.  I posted what we did in class every day, not only so absent students could figure out what they missed on their own, but so parents of struggling students could see what we were up to in order to support their child.

There are certainly other LMS's that are more powerful; to give but two examples, Blackboard and Canvas by Instructure are used in higher education yet are increasingly seen in K-12.  Few are as user-friendly as Edmodo, however, and by partnering with other webtools like Edpuzzle, make Edmodo even more compelling.

As our 1:1 student device initiative begins next school year, we will be able to utilize tools like Edmodo even more in an "always online" environment.  Kudos to Kate Herrick and Lillie Hall for starting to experiment with that environment now.  Congrats for your #ShelbyTUITshoutout!

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