Wouldn't it be wonderful if teachers could incorporate social media tools directly into their classroom instruction with the approval of administration and parents? Imagine students checking their cell phones throughout the day to see if either the teacher or fellow classmates have posted some wonderful bit of historical trivia or strategies to solve a difficult math problem or additional insight into group project. Now, take this a step further and picture ELLs interacting with fellow students within this medium. Here, embarrassment over limited English abilities is a non-issue since collaboration is the goal so no bell curve is present to intimidate. In fact, though there is an academic focus behind it, students will see it as a fun "version" of FACEBOOK:)
EDMODO has a layout very much like Facebook. There are group post sections where teachers (or students if it is an assignment) post topics for students to respond to. The post would of course have an academic focus since the teacher's goal is to assist students in developing a deeper knowledge of the topic. There is a calendar where teachers can post due dates for tests, examinations, projects, papers, etc. Parents will definitely appreciate this feature.
There is also an option for the teacher to post quizzes either on the site directly or by uploading them. I would only make such quizzes practice ones for the real test; however, for the ELL or struggling learner, this type of practice with in class feedback would greatly increase the odds of passing the real test. After all, as such students become more confident in their knowledge of the topic, they greatly increase the odds of earning a good grade on the formal assessment.
Another tool is the poll taker. Students may create their own as part of a class project or take ones that the teacher has created or both:) I just created one for my students to take on their whether they prefer the new bell schedule (block scheduling) or the old one (traditional 55 minute periods). Once they take the poll, we will discuss the results using sentence frames and academic vocabulary to make their point.
One other tool I am looking forward to using is the library which I will contribute to (weblinks) as well as students (I must approve potential submissions of course). Now, when students have projects, they have a place to start. This type of support is a must for ELLs.
Edmodo also contains a wide range of academic links ready for students to use with ease. I joined several academic communities with the needs of my students in mind (math, science, history, English). Now, if students need further clarification on content issues, they can do some research here and hopefully find their answers.
Try the site with your students. Bring in fellow colleagues. Your students will truly enjoy EDMODO:)
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