Last week my deputy head put a writing task on Edmodo for KS2 - within four days, 42 children had chosen, in their own free time at break or at home, to complete it! They weren't forced, it wasn't formally set as homework - they just decided themselves that they wanted to do it.
To say that Edmodo is a success at my school would be putting it mildly. Since my last post (view here), I've managed to get about half of KS1 signed up too and have even had children who are off ill logging in at home during the day.
Having had more time to explore Edmodo, I can now explain some of the tools I overlooked last time, as well as give you some useful little tips I've discovered to help get the most out of Edmodo.
Firstly, let me talk about 'assignments'. As a teacher, you can set an assignment to be completed by either one group or multiple groups. You send it by filling in the message form (including attaching any pictures/files) and setting a due date for it to be completed by. It appears in each child's timeline, as well as in the 'spotlight' area in the top-right of the screen to remind them that it needs to be done.
To complete an assignment, children have to click on the 'turn in' button on the assignment description before typing their work in (and upload any pictures/files) - they shouldn't do it by replying to the message.
Once an assignment has been completed, it appears in the teacher's mark book to say that it has been turned in. The group creator and any co-teachers can grade the work by giving it a mark (we've been setting writing tasks to the whole of KS2 and giving marks out of 5, based on National Curriculum levelling), as well as give feedback by adding a comment to it.
As Edmodo is aimed at all sectors of the education system, assignments that have been turned in can only be viewed by: the group creator, co-teachers, each child in question and any parents associated with them. Whilst this has the advantage of preventing children from cheating by looking at what each other has done, it has the disadvantage of children not being able see each other's work and comment on it. To get around this though, I had the idea of publishing a good piece of work completed by a child in each class onto the school website - this lets children aim to do the best they can so that it gets shared with a worldwide audience and also makes it so that they only see good examples of work to model their own ideas from (rather than just looking at their friends, which might not be that good).
Moving on, teachers can also send 'alerts' to groups - these are messages which contain only text and which appear in the timeline in a larger font to highlight their importance. Edmodo says that you are limited to 140 characters, although this doesn't seem to be the case. It's worth pointing out that sending a message/alert to multiple groups means that children from different groups can all reply to it and get a little discussion/conversation going - this might be something you want to allow but if you don't, the only workaround is to send the message to each group separately.
Any files/links/embed codes attached by a teacher to a message are automatically added to their online library/storage area (you can also upload to the library directly too if you wish). At the moment there aren't any storage limits, although uploads are limited to 100mb - this, in my opinion, makes it a fantastic place to store documents online. Images (and I think PDFs too) less than 1mb in size even show a preview of the file automatically too.
Library items can be organised into folders to help organise them, and these folders can then be shared with your groups (who will have read-only access to them). As well as having groups for each class in my school, I also have a 'staff' group that only staff can access - I spent around four hours last weekend uploading PowerPoints and printable resources to share with this staff group so that they can access them at home (something which many have been requesting for a good few years now).
Lastly, I want to quickly point out a few things I've discovered about user profiles:
- when pupil passwords are reset, it takes about a minute for changes to take effect and automatically makes any characters in them capital letters;
- some children might change their last name to something a bit jokey and so need telling to change it back again so that everyone knows who they are;
- profile pictures can be animated GIFs.
In just under a month, Edmodo has become firmly embedded in my school - everyone has taken to it so quickly and with so much enthusiasm that I've actually been amazed. We even held a meeting for parents earlier this week to tell them about what our vision is for using the site and how they can help their child to work on it.
(Created by S Haughton, M Kemp and clip art provided by B Evans)
Nearly every other day I've been getting an email or Tweet sent to me from a school asking me if I would recommend rolling out Edmodo and each time my response has be a definite 'yes'!
I'll end with a few comments from our children about why they love Edmodo so much:
"I don't like Edmodo, I love it!"
"It's better doing homework on computers than paper. I think if you do more homework on computers you can get more people to turn it in instead of maybe having some scruffy writing on paper."
"Edmodo is the best!"
"Because you can chat to each other and do assignments."
"I like Edmodo because you can comment on people's writing and share things with one another."
"I like Edmodo because you can talk to friends at home."