In addition to the back and forth dialog there are other features that have been very beneficial in my instruction. One that quickly comes to mind is the calendar function. An event, such as a test, quiz or project due date can be posted and shared with all relevant classes. Calendar items can easily be changed or removed as well. With a quick glance, I can look back or ahead for those dates established at any time. The library is another helpful feature that allows me to store anything digital for quick access– from handouts, to PowerPoints to Webpages that can then be shared with students or other teachers. Folders can be created to organize these. Students have their own file storage called their “backpacks,” and as I share important files, they can then organize them in their backpacks to pull from at any time as needed.
Edmodo quizzes are easy to make and are graded for you, although they will need to be entered into our own gradebook program. The polling feature is quick, easy, and the teacher can obtain a quick read on the students’ feelings on a topic or their level of comfort with the material. I have used free apps and purchased some as well. One I purchased is the virtual dissection of a frog, and the kids have enjoyed that on my ActivBoard.
From a professional development point of view, Edmodo offers communities related to my content and areas of interest, such as science, technology, Discovery Education, and professional development. Within each of these communities helpful information and resources are posted. I have found that teachers have been quick to share their ideas and resources.
My recommendations on Edmodo would be to first begin with one class and then add classes as your comfort level increases. Each class would have a separate code to join the group that you will need to provide. I also recommend sending a letter home to parents explaining that you will be using Edmodo and invite them to participate (their code for joining is on the child’s page). Another recommendation that is strongly suggested is that you communicate Edmodo protocol or rules for use along with important digital citizenship information before beginning with a group of students.
Another very useful classroom tool is Google Drive (earlier called Docs). Documents, spreadsheets or presentations are accessible anywhere there is web access, and there is no software purchase requirements, unlike the expensive Microsoft Window Office Suite. The features in Google Drive are easy to use, and they are improving in terms of the variety of features available. The products (documents, spreadsheets or presentations) are accessible to all members to edit and share with one another, and collaboration capability is a huge selling point.
One idea for use in my science classroom is to have groups of students collaborate using Google Drive on a document to develop a problem statement on a topic of concern, develop a team hypotheses and list steps on how they might test their hypothesis. A second idea is to develop a spreadsheet at the start of the year they enter information I might need about them, such as parent names and email addresses. This could be accessed by all as they work together throughout the year, and a benefit to me to contact parents as needed. Finally, the Google Drive presentation tool may be used for collaboration on group project creations, using words, images or both, and inserting video.
Here is a quick presentation I created on Google Drive: