Friday, November 18, 2011

Excited over Edmodo!

School is well under way and I'm here to report that Edmodo has exceeded my expectations so far this year!! I had to wait a year to get permission to use this free private learning network with my 5th grade gifted/talented (GATES) classes.

In retrospect, it was a good thing to have to wait. This year's group of kids seem very appreciative of the honor to be the FIRST in our town to use the site. Additionally, schedules have changed at my three schools so that I have had to change my pullout program. Now, instead of meeting with each group one day each week, I am following my library lesson schedule to have three days of GATES classes a week per group. This means that I do not have weekly face-to-face time with the kids but we do get to have a more intense time of instruction and activity with these back-to-back sessions.

With the help of Edmodo, I actually believe that I am delivering a better gifted/talented program this year. We have three consecutive days of project work on our SAILS historical era curriculum and then I supplement the program through Edmodo with assignments, polls, home response activities, current event responses, and more!

We start the year with a learning style survey so students can view HOW they are smart. I direct them to view their top three outcomes and evaluate if they agree with the results of the survey. Although most of my students were identified through our district criteria with one or more high percentage scores on spring achievement tests, some were referred and went through an interview process to qualify. Thus we look at ways we are "gifted" beyond academic, such as music, art, body, and others. I set up folders to "Explore Giftedness" in those areas. Most recently students could explore musical options, like a virtual piano, a percussion keyboarding site, and CodeOrgan to create music. We explored Thinkfinity's ARTSEDGE activity on "Spooky Sounds and Scary Tales" to listen to classical "scary" music. I have created a folder on art that includes some great drawing tools as well as links to art tutorials. The folder on "body smart" includes some line dances as well as educational jump rope rhymes.

Recent current events have included earthquakes in our state so I provided a link on earthquakes that included some interesting animated illustrations. Around Veteran's Day, I provided a heartwarming video about a soldier and his efforts to transport stray dogs that saved his life while serving overseas. They also participated in a poll to identify the military branch a family member or friend served in with the opportunity to make a response.

Students can check the calender to view upcoming site sessions, assignments, and school schedules. They can filter the posts to specifically view assignments, polls, or teacher posts. They can "turn in" their work after they have met the activity's criteria to view, read, and respond. They can go to the grade section to verify that they completed the assignment and view their score. This provides a great level of accountability that was missing in last year's program.

Parents have been provided with a special code to allow them to view calendar, assignment, and grade sections of Edmodo. They also have the option to receive notifications from Edmodo.

A great plus for me is the avenue of communication as students can post a public response or direct post to me. Students are not able to direct post to another students--their posts are public to the users of their identified groups. I receive email notification for every response made by students so I can easily monitor the program even though I may not be logged in.

Edmodo has helped me to develop a better program for my GATES students. Edmodo provides great tech support and I receive great tips and ideas from the Edmodo communities that I join. All of this--and it is free!

This has been a great experience this year--I'm very excited to have the opportunity to use this fantastic resource!! Thank you, Edmodo!!

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