This past nine weeks I began using the website Edmodo to assign my student’s homework and to communicate with them outside of school. Traditionally, I gave each student a homework page each week and asked them to return it signed after they completed it with their parents. I had a few faithful students return their work each week but the majority did not even attempt it even though they could earn an extra sticker if it was returned signed. Each summer I usually sent home a multi-page packet for my student to continue their speech practice over the summer and I would reward them with a prize if they returned the work completed the following year. I wanted a new way to try to get my student to think about their speech skills the other 160+ hours in the week when they don’t have speech therapy. I discovered Edmodo at a technology conference held by my county last year. I thought the Facebook like design would be appealing to my students and the fact that they could use technology to complete the work sounded promising as well. So we began using it.
How to start:
To get started using the Edmodo site with your students, you need to sign up for a FREE account. After you begin an Edmodo page, complete the profile information. It will prompt you to start a Group. I divided my students up into grade levels. Each Group is given a private access code. Students can not join a group without this code and the your (the admin’s) approval. After the groups were set up I sent home an information sheet to the parents. It explained Edmodo, the educational purpose, and how they can have a parent account to see what their child is saying in post and how they are doing on assignments. The Parents access is limited to only viewing what I post and what their child post. If parents did not want their child to participate, they were instructed to contact me to opt out. I did not have anyone opt out of participating. The letter also explains to the students that this website is for educational purposes only and any violation of the school’s technology use policy will be disciplined within the school. Here is a copy of the form I sent home: Edmodo Parent letter (editable). The following week I had my students bring their planners with them to speech and we set up their account. We wrote down the website, username that they created, and a description of their password (not the actual password) so they could access the website from home and other computers in the school.
Features of the Edmodo:
Edmodo resembles Facebook in its design and the way you communicate with others. Students are encouraged to post on their Groups page and to send the teacher private messages. The big difference with Edmodo versus Facebook is that members of a Group can not private message each other. This eliminates the concern about cyberbullying. The teacher can assign homework, create quizzes, and take polls easily within Edmodo. Each assignment or quiz is graded and trackable within the site. This makes it easy to reward students for completed work. Also Edmodo has many different supported “apps” within the website that can be downloaded and assigned to different Groups. The “apps” are all education based and are divided into many different categories. Several “apps” are FREE. You can also earn credits to purchase “apps” for completing different challenges within Edmodo from time to time. Edmodo can be accessed from computers, tablets, and smartphones by downloading the app from iTunes or Android stores. There is a new feature that I just started this week. It is called Snapshot. You can assign students work based on the Common Core State Standards. You can choose to start with just one standard or with several. The results are reported to you.
I started using Edmodo to increase homework participation and to have my students work on their speech throughout the summer. I like communicating with my students through the site. I have had an increase in homework participation on the weekly assignments. The students have reported some issues with the apps. Not all of the apps are supported on tablets or smartphones and sometimes the apps will not load on the computer. I do still intend to assign homework throughout the summer through Edmodo. A nice feature also in Edmodo is that I can schedule when assignments are posted so I can complete the assignments before summer break and they will post throughout the summer. Edmodo notifies you by email whenever activity is noticed in the Groups so you will be alerted when someone post or completes an assignment. Edmodo seems to be improving its features frequently as problems and new technology is available. I do recommend you try it out. I think it would work particularly well for students in the upper elementary, middle, and high school levels.