Edmodo is a great resource for teachers who want to provide a safe, structured, and fun way to incorporate online learning into their classes. Using Edmodo, a teacher sets up a “class” and is provided a private code that a user must enter in order to access it. When students enter the code to gain access, they set up their profiles and choose an avatar to represent themselves. They can make and reply to posts, which is similar to how it happens on Facebook; however, the class is private, so no one “random” can just pop in. The teacher can set up assignments, provide links to videos, websites, articles, word documents, pictures, etc. The teacher can also set up a library of resources that the students can access. Online assignments can be “turned in” and graded online. Edmodo is a good resource for flipping the classroom: a teacher can link a video for the students to watch at home so that class time can be devoted to problem-solving or projects. Edmodo is also a good resource for students who miss class: a teacher can link make-up assignments or provide links for homework; it could also be used when the school is closed for a snow day in order to access learning. Currently we have a teacher at our school who is using Edmodo as a way to provide an online class to a student who has such significant anxiety that he can’t leave his house. Over the summer, I created a presentation that uses Edmodo as a way for students to collaborate on a reading assignment, and I will link parts of it in this post.
Cornell University provides some important insight about collaboration and collaborative learning and why it is so important:
“Collaborative learning can occur peer-to-peer or in larger groups. Peer learning, or peer instruction, is a type of collaborative learning that involves students working in pairs or small groups to discuss concepts, or find solutions to problems. This often occurs in a class session after students are introduced to course material through readings or videos before class, and/or through instructor lectures. Similar to the idea that two or three heads are better than one, many instructors have found that through peer instruction, students teach each other by addressing misunderstandings and clarifying misconceptions.”
Research shows that educational experiences that are active, social, contextual, engaging, and student-owned lead to deeper learning. The benefits of collaborative learning include:
- Development of higher-level thinking, oral communication, self-management, and leadership skills.
- Promotion of student-teacher interaction.
- Increase in student retention, self-esteem, and responsibility.
- Exposure to and an increase in understanding of diverse perspectives.
- Preparation for real life social and employment situations.
Here is a lesson I developed that involves students collaborating on a class project (I have classes of 5 or 6, but a larger class could be divided up into small groups for this project): Collaborative Approach Activity Lesson Plan
The following is from “Using Collaborative Strategic Reading” by Janette K. Klingner and Sharon Vaughn:
- “Once students have developed proficiency applying comprehension strategies through teacher-led activities, they are ready to learn roles they will perform while using Collaborative Strategic Reading (CSR) in their peer-led cooperative learning groups.
- Student roles are an important aspect of CSR because cooperative learning seems to work best when all group members have been assigned a meaningful task.
- Some roles you can use: leader, announcer, time keeper, summarizer, visualizer, encourager, and reporter
- The teacher becomes an active listener (or participant online) while helping with any questions or issues that come up for students; the students learn from each other
- CSR can be used in general education classrooms where students with special needs are included for instruction (Klingner et al., in press) as well as in special education settings (Klingner & Vaughn, 1996).
In case you aren’t familiar with Edmodo, here is a handout I created that explains some of the main features of Edmodo: Edmodo Handout.
To use Edmodo for a reading collaboration activity you need:
- personal tablets or laptops with internet connectivity or a computer with internet connectivity.
- The Edmodo app installed on each personal tablet or access to the website.
- A personal Edmodo account (email is not needed for students to set up accounts).
The activity could be something like this:
- Read for a few minutes, then answer a comprehension question on the site (the reading and questions are linked on the site for the students to access).
- The next step would be to continue reading for several more minutes and respond to at least 2 other people in the class via posts and replies.
- Then, the group would finish the story and post their answers to the end questions.
- The final step is to respond to at least 3 other learners in the class and answer any questions posed. Then complete an assignment that is based on the reading. The whole activity could probably take about 50-60 minutes, depending on your readers. Here is an example of how you could set up your group collaboration reading (I used the story, “The Ransom of Red Chief,” always a favorite): Ransom of Red Chief Story and Questions