"If we teach today's students as we taught yesterday's, we rob them of tomorrow." --John Dewey

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Halloween Treat, and a Few Clever Tricks

There are few things that will lift a teacher's spirits at the end of a long day like a healthy dose of chocolate--except maybe going home without a bag full of papers to grade.  So, assuming you'll be the recipient of at least a little chocolate on Halloween, let me wish you a happy holiday by providing a website that may help empty your book bag.

Edmodo.com is a wonderful website that provides a secure environment for you and your students to connect and collaborate.  You can post homework assignments, and provide a library of resources (documents, links, videos, etc.) for your students to use in getting it done.  Here's how it works:

Suppose you're studying the International Space Station, or (insert your favorite topic here).  That YouTube video that is likely to be blocked by your school's firewall can be embedded into your Edmodo site, so that your students can watch it for homework (or maybe watch it again for homework if you're lucky enough not to have it blocked in the first place).  The reaction paper that you want them to write can be posted to the Edmodo portal along with the video, the assignment due date, and any other pertinent resources.  Your students, after dutifully watching the movie, will begin their response in a word processing program, and instead of saving the unfinished document to a flash drive to bring to school, can then save to their Edmodo "backpack" to finish at a later time.  No flash drive needed.  When assignments are completed, students attach their files and submit them to you right through the website.  You can now read and grade the assignments, post the grades and your feedback for your students to view the next time they log in to Edmodo.

In addition to streamlining assignments, Edmodo will enable you to post important alerts to the entire group, or messages to individual students.  You can maintain a class calendar, and your students can add their own important events that only they will see upon login.  And, if you're lucky enough to work with colleagues who love to collaborate, Edmodo makes it easy for your students to access class materials from all of their teachers with a single log in.  You can even provide parental access if you so choose.

Edmodo is truly a gem--the digital equivalent of chocolate to be sure.  Give it a try.  I promise you, this one is a keeper.

Now for the clever tricks. (You didn't think I'd forget, did you?)  Anywhere that Edmodo will allow you to post a link, it will also accept HTML so that you can embed not only videos but other useful gadgets you can find online as well.  Try this website, for example, for some great "embeddables."  (No, I don't think that's actually a word.)

Go to http://clear.msu.edu/teaching/online/ria/ and create a free account.  Choose one of the awesome Rich Internet Applications, create and embed into Edmodo using the HTML.  You and your students are going to see homework in a whole new light.

Which CLEAR application will be your favorite? Use this Audio Dropbox to submit your reponse, and imagine how you could use it with your students.

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