This year, I launched into a new technology experience, which I planned to share with you a little earlier, but we teachers know how these things go! My classes each have a group set up on Edmodo. Overall, I think it has been a good thing, but as my board's position on technology and 21st century education changes, I'm not totally certain I'll use it again next year.
I owe a shout-out to my friend and fellow French teacher Dominique, who told me about this tool after attending a workshop at the Spring OMLTA conference last year presented by Nadine Pharand, a French teacher in the Kingston area, whom I have not had the pleasure of meeting yet.
Some positives from this experience:
I am a teacher ALL THE TIME, and I don't generally mind getting a message from a student at 9 p.m. asking for clarification on something they are struggling with at that moment. I may not always answer right then, but at least he or she has gotten it off his or her chest, and I've got a heads up that someone needs a little extra support with a concept.
There is a paperless aspect, in that students can submit assignments right through the platform, and can receive a mark and comments back the same way. I learned a lot about how this can work this year, although I definitely did not leverage it in the way I had hoped.
The student collaboration that I saw happen at times was astounding. One student found and shared plays performed by other students to bring to life the French novel we were reading together.
Students can also submit attachments, so voice recordings can be passed along to the teacher this way too. I used that feature only a couple of times this year, but it certainly has promise!!
Also, to put some fears to rest, student to student private interaction in NOT possible, so there's little threat of cyber-intimidation or other nasty stuff going on... the students KNOW everything is in the public view of the teacher.
I also use it for professional development & connecting with other teachers, but not as much as I use other platforms (facebook, blogs and Twitter, in that order).
One surprising challenge has been, as I learn to be a French Immersion teacher, how I feel about parents reading what I've written. My fear at the beginning of the year was "What if I make a mistake... or even TWO in one sentence?" but I've let go of this. I label myself a life-long-learner, and fear hampers learning so I just took a couple of deep breaths and dove in!
I have of course paid attention to what the students are posting, and maybe three times deleted silly stuff that didn't add to the conversation there, especially when my rule was that all posts had to be in French. (I did PM students in English a couple of times when we were dialoguing back & forth and eventually one or the other of us felt that using the second language was hindering the subtleties we wanted to convey.) I have had parents question whether the use of this tool was worth it. In my opinion, it certainly was. I AM glad that I tried it out this year, and would recommend it to anyone wanting to try out adding a technological interaction component to his or her classroom.
One feature I wish Edmodo had that it does not... the opportunity to give a "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" to individual comments. Over the course of the year, it DID add a few possible reactions, but they are rather limited, and not possible to use for individual replies but only on the main message which kicked off a topic. (Basically, yes, I'm saying I want the facebook "Like" and "Share" features added!)
Give ME a thumbs up if you've tried Edmodo, or use another tool you like better, and tell me what it is!