For my final make, I decided to create a mock Edmodo page for a 5th grade Autistic Support classroom. Simply visit edmodo.com and enter the student group code uy7gxe to access Ms. Norden’s 5th grade group. You can also access my Edmodo page via the following url: https://edmo.do/j/dtfn9c.
I was first introduced to Edmodo a couple of years ago when I was completing practicum work at Upper Dublin High School. The teacher I was working with, an 11th grade American History teacher, used Edmodo as a means of answering review questions posted by the teacher. Students in the class post their own responses and are then able to view and comment on the responses of their classmates.
When I was thinking about what my final make would look like, I was trying to think of an online student resource that encompassed all of the facets of connected learning:
1. Production Centered
2. Focused on Promoting Peer Culture
3. Openly Networked
4. Tailored towards Student Interests
6. Designed Around a Shared Purpose
Edmodo is a multi-purpose resource that can be tailored to fit the unique needs of any student population. One of my inquiries towards the end of the semester was how to design learning activities that appealed to those students who are typically left on the margins; those students who are disengaged or struggling for a variety of reasons whether that is a lack of resources at school, lack of support at home, learning disabilities, and the long list of other challenging circumstances which students confront daily. Later on as I started planning my final make, I wanted to revise my inquiry to better suit the needs of the population of students who I work with – 5th and 6th grade autistic support students.
I noticed that as I read about connected learning and looked deeper into the many initiatives being taken to bring connected learning into the classroom, there was not a lot of emphasis being placed on how connected learning can benefit special education students. I have witnessed how my group of autistic support students thrive on digital resources and benefit from assistive technologies and began to think how Edmodo could help to address the needs of my students. It is ideal in that learning activities can be directly tailored to the diverse interests of the students I teach (interests as diverse as streets, bridges, and road signs to wrestling and horror movies!) It also opens up a vital line of communication between home and school, something that is integral to the success of special education students. Many times, homework and forms are lost between home and school, and having a place where parents and students can visit to keep track of progress and stay on top of assignments is invaluable for their success.
This particular Edmodo page is designed with the beginning of the school year in mind. My group code, which is needed to access my page, Ms. Norden’s 5th grade group, is uy7gxe. With this code, anyone can access my Edmodo account. The url for my page is https://edmo.do/j/dtfn9c. Students are able to access a number of back-to-school activities on the Edmodo page, as well as leave their responses to questions on the class “newsfeed.” This way students are able to get to know one another and create a sense of classroom community via a digital forum. In addition to being able to post assignments to the Edmodo page, students also receive alerts for upcoming due date as well as quizzes and tests, a feature just as valuable for parents as it is for students (considering that oftentimes, a lot of information is “lost in transit” between home and school). Also, parents have a unique group in which they can leave messages for the teacher or ask questions pertaining to assignments or just general inquiries. I think that it is invaluable for students to have a “one-stop-shop” where they can not only complete their schoolwork and prepare for assessments, but also where they and their parents can communicate with the teacher(s).
Another feature that is really awesome from the standpoint of connected learning, is that students have access to differentiated resources and reading material via the Library feature of the Edmodo page. Here, students and parents can gain access to links, videos, PDFs, and essentially any other kind of uploaded document from their home computer. The links and other resources that I included on my “mock” Edmodo page are geared towards beginning of the school year activities which are complete with detailed instructions and due dates to assist student and parents.
Edmodo is also an excellent tool for anybody trying to incorporate connected learning into their classroom because it allows you to award your students with badges. I thought that the idea of tracking student progress with badges was a very innovative and creative way of assessing students in a digital format. One of the students’ first assignments for the new school year, in fact, is to create their very own badge which can later on be awarded to a classmate. That way, students are playing a part in setting expectations for their classroom behavior as well as their academic goals, providing an essential sense of ownership over their work. Students can apply for each other’s badges, and then students, with the guidance of their teacher, will be the one to decided whether a student has met the criteria for a particular badge.
Student badges can be found under the “Progress” tab of the Edmodo homepage and virtually any type of badge can be created and uploaded. Badges include the Good Citizen, Homework Helper, and Hard Worker badge, and badges that I created for students include the Inspired Minds, Online Superstar, Kudos for Kindness, and the Best Effort badge.
I began creating the page by leaving a welcome post, much like Facebook, and then posted a series of “Getting-to-Know-You” questions to get a sense of student interests and learning profiles. This also serves as a valuable opportunity for students to communicate with one another and leave comments on each others’ posts. Additionally, I created the student’s first assignment, accessible to both students and teachers, which is located under Library Items and a specially created Back-To-School Folder. Their first assignment is to complete a 25 question survey focusing on student interests and then to write a paragraph response responding in more depth to one of the 25 questions. The assignment location, details, and due date are all available on the Edmodo page, making is much easier for both students and parents to understand expectations and keep track of their progress.
The next assignment is to read “James and the Giant Peach,” as a class and to complete a variety of corresponding learning activities. Similar to the “Back-to-School” Folder, there is a separate “James and the Giant Peach” Folder so that all assignments are readily and easily accessible for students and parents. In addition to classwork and homework activities, teachers can also upload quizzes to Edmodo which can be a combination of multiple choice, True/False, Short Answer, Fill-in-the-Blank, and Matching questions. I was able to very easily create and upload a quiz for this novel which is a combination of MC and short answer questions, which are then readily accessible for scoring by the teacher. You can also incorporate a number of free apps onto your Edmodo page, as well as many other apps available at a low cost. For example, I asked for students to use the “Bookopolis” app to write their own book reviews for “James and the Giant Peach” and included several other free ELA apps for students including Grammaropolis and StoryboardThat, an interactive app which allows you to create storyboards which an end product very similar to a comic strip on Pixton or other comic strip makers. Better yet, Edmodo provides apps tailored for special education students such as SNAPPINESS which helps students hone their reading and comprehension skills.
Another awesome feature of Edmodo is that you are able to alert students whenever assignments or assessments are upcoming, a critical line of communication that is often lost between school and home. Students are also able to look at a month-to-month calendar that allows students to manage their time efficiently and to complete homework and prepare for assessments on time.
As I continued to explore Edmodo, it seemed like the options were almost endless and it became more apparent that its resources and features are ideal for a special education population of students. In addition to the Back-to-School and “James and the Giant Peach” assignments, I was able to create and upload two separate projects, as well. One project was the “What is a Hero?” project and the other is a “Be Your Best…Earn A Badge!” project. Both of these can be found in the Project Folder under the Library tab on the Edmodo homepage. Once I review these badges, then students can upload them under the Progress tab and award students their badge over the course of the trimester. These badges will be used to earn rewards as chosen by each individual student and serve as an excellent means of classroom management and creating a cohesive classroom environment centered on student accountability.
Another great feature of Edmodo is that you are able to share group codes to any student in the school. This is a great way of exhibiting student work and creating a community of connected learners. For example, students in other classes can create their own badges and these can then be uploaded to our class Edmodo page to create a more extensive, school-wide collection of academic and character badges. Students are also able to create and join “Playground” groups where students with similar interests are able to post links to webpages, videos, and other online material that are of interest to the group. Teachers can then create projects or “makes” for each of these “Playground” groups, and students can collaborate online across classes and even across grade levels to design creative projects that are interest-driven and production-centered. I was also able to create a Current Events group with the group code 52pw8p and the url https://edmo.do/j/5mb9uu. The specific details for this assignment can be found in the Current Events Folder under the Library Tab on the homepage. The creation of separate subgroups that can be accessed by all students with the group code, as well as the creation of interest-driven “Playground” groups are both examples of how Edmodo is an awesome forum for connecting learners both within the classroom, across grade levels and among different schools. The Current Events project requires students to create discussion questions which other students must then respond to, creating a community centered around inquiry and the sharing of online resources.
Another interesting feature that helps to bring the class together in the morning is the polling feature which is easily accessed via a poll tab at the top of the homepage. For example, I created a very simple poll – “What is your favorite time of year? Autumn or Summer?” These types of questions help to generate conversation and warm students’ minds up for the day ahead.
As a whole, Edmodo is an excellent resource for all students and any grade level. It allows you to curate resources,post assignments and projects, and create interest-driven and production centered groups that allow students to work creatively and collaboratively. It incorporates so many of the elements of connected learning that we explored this semester including badge-making, the use of digital apps as learning tools, and the sharing of various resources (articles, videos, blogs, etc.) in a single and easily accessible location. I would recommend this FREE resource to any educator interested in incorporating connected learning into their classrooms in a user-friendly, easy-to-navigate, and highly interactive digital space.