Saturday, September 29, 2012

Edmodo - Easy as 1-2-3

Last year one of my students asked me to set up an Edmodo account for the class.  I told her I would look into it, but somehow I never really found the time.  Looking back, I wish I had made the time.  I had no idea  what Edmodo was not to mention what a difference it could make in my classroom.  So I thought I would give you step by step on how I started implementing Edmodo as an integral part of my flipped classroom,  then maybe you will find the time to make it work in your classroom.  

1. First, I joined Edmodo using my district's Join code.  Then I created a group for my class.  I had to get parental permission for each student to set up their account on Edmodo.   While waiting on the permission forms (it didn't take long- 1 day to be exact) we discussed the importance of good digital citizenship, and the rules they would need to follow to keep their posting privileges:  using respectful language and being courteous when posting, using school language not texting language, posting school related topics only.  Edmodo has a great resource on their site for developing digital citizenship. 

2. Once that was done, I checked out one of our laptop carts. (I like calling them COWS - computers on wheels).  I used the Smart board to show them how to join our group.  I wrote the join code on the board and students logged in and joined our group.   After everyone joined our group, I "closed" the group.  If a new student moves in it is easy to reopen access. I would not recommend emailing the join code to your students or sending it home. 

3.  I posted a question to the class, something like "what are your expectations for this school year?" and the students began responding. We learned the difference between replying to a previous post and creating a new one. 

And we have been using it ever since. I would also recommend that you create a fake student account.  That way you can see exactly what the page looks like to the students.  It is also a good idea to use the fake student's account when modeling procedures to the students . . . like where to look for videos, how to add items to their backpacks etc.  This has been a "learn as I go" process. I am still learning . . . everyday!

I am going to try and post a poll at least once a week.  This week I polled the students to see which method of multiplying multi-digit numbers they preferred to use.  I am still learning what is the best method for posting videos for the students. The great thing about Edmodo is there are plenty of professionals who are more than willing to lend a helping hand!

If you are still not sure you want to use it with your students, I would recommend setting up your own teacher account and hanging out for a while.  You will find so many useful teaching resources just from reading the post of other teachers.  It will change your thinking?
What can I say....I love using Edmodo.  The support community is the best!  Whenever you have a question or concern, they always respond very quickly.  I really can't imagine flipping my class without Edmodo! 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Factor Tic-Tac-Toe

Standard Algorithm

 We learned that you can use the area model, partial products, and the standard algorithm to solve multi-digit multiplication problems.  So today we played Factor Tic-Tac-Toe to practice using those strategies. Each group of partners had a tic-tac-toe game board, 2 or 3 dice, a white board, and a calculator.  The first partner placed a counter on one of the 2 digit numbers on the board.  Then they rolled 2 dice to determine  what their other factor would be. If they rolled a 6 and a 3, their number could be 63 or 36. Next, they chose one of the strategies to  solve their problem on the white board while the other partner used the calculator to check their  work.

While watching the students playing the game, I realized some students weren't too comfortable with the standard algorithm and preferred to use the area model or partial products.  That really surprised me.  .  .I thought that would be the strategy most of them would choose. This evening I made a video reviewing each strategy.  Now if I could just get that thing loaded to Edmodo correctly my life would be a piece of cake. 

Area Model

This game can easily be differentiated by rolling 1, 2, or even 3 dice to get the second factor.  Of course, the object is to get 3 in a row!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Child Will Lead Them

What's holding you back from flipping?  If you are worried that you don't know enough about technology to stick your toes into the flipping pool, don't let that stop you.  I call the tech department in our county at least once a week because I can't figure something out. Maybe more.  They are always very helpful. Today was different though. 

Today a couple of my students took the lead.  They used my laptop and Smart Board to show students how to upload files to their backpack and attach a file in Edmodo. Two students took it upon themselves to write a follow-up post reminding their classmates of the procedures after they got home.

Tonight I added a poll to Edmodo asking students what they thought they still needed help with on Edmodo. I will take those results and form small technology groups, lead by students of course! When I was checking assignments tonight, I saw that another one of my students had used something to do her work on the computer and then she attached it to her W-S-Q form before submitting it!  Wow!  Needless to say, she will be modeling a lesson on how to do that tomorrow.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

It's More Than Just the Videos

Watching Videos

I know I keep stressing out about making these videos.  But flipping the class is not just about finding and making videos for your students to watch at night.  How will "flipping my class" be different from what I did last year?  When I think about it, I had some content videos linked on my class website last year, still do. I often reminded my students, "you know, you can watch these at home" or "If you need to review, you can go online during independent reading and watch that video".  The closer we got to our end-of-the-year assessment, I found myself encouraging my students to watch the content videos whenever they had time; especially the students who needed review or who were absent during instruction for whatever reason: illness, small group pull-out, or whatever. 

I am beginning to understand what Brett Wilie meant when he said: "Flipping is not just about the videos"!  I had videos last year. One way my flipped class will be different this year is that I will make some, eventually most, of the videos I post for my students to watch. (See "Why it Has to Be Me").  But I think the biggest difference will be that I will have more in-class time for the students to practice with supervision, to put what they are learning into action through games, projects, solving problems, etc. and I will have more time to work with individual students and small groups. Not a bad trade-off, wouldn't you say?

"Order Up" Game Board
"Order Up"
Each student wrote a 3 digit decimal number between 2 and 3 on an index card.  Their cards are then placed in random order on the side of a strip of adding machine tape. Their task was to arrange the cards in order from least to greeted by moving only 1 card at a time.  They can only move 1 card to the empty space on the board (see the smiley sticker). They could not talk while playing the game. Can you see the student covering their mouth to keep from talking in the picture? Too cute!

The Videos Are Coming!

Have I mentioned before that Edmodo is a wonderful social platform for flipping your class?  And I don't mean just for communicating with students and parents, for posting assignments, grades, quizzes, videos and what have you.  NO, I am constantly finding it to be a powerful site for professional development!  Just yesterday I read a post from Mrs. Kennedy.  She posted a link to Learn Zillion, a site that has videos based on the common core standards for grades 3-5.  Just about every standard has videos that can be easily used if you are flipping your classroom.  Did I say it has videos?  I mean really good videos! 

Even though Learn Zillion has wonderful videos (and I do mean wonderful) I still want to make my own.  But do I even need to make my own videos? In Why It Has to Be Me Katie Gimbar gives the following reasons teachers should invest the time and energy to create videos for their students: there is a level of trust between the students and teacher, there is accountability that is not there when you outsource your videos, videos can be personalized for your students, and creating your own videos empowers you, the teacher, to effectively make a shift in the way you teach.  So . . . I will continue to work on my videos but while I am perfecting my technological skills, I can still use videos like the ones on Learn Zillion. . . can't I?

By the way, I realized that my video in the previous post will play - it just takes forever to load. I also had better luck posting a video I made for Sneak-A-Peek to School Tube.  One that I had been trying to embed on my class website since school started. I almost gave up since it has been about 4 weeks but I have had 2 new students join our class and the video was a good way to introduce their family to our class.  I don't know why it finally decided to work but I'm glad it did.

"Who dares to teach must never cease to learn"  ~John Cotton Dana


Wow! I can’t believe I have not posted anything this entire school year! I’m not sure what that means. I have decided that I will be retir...