Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Edmodo and the New School Year

This year I am starting to use Edmodo for grades four through eight. I used it for the first technology class of the year. I wanted to share some insights and ideas to keep in mind for next year.

Our Own Domain
I attended about five hours of the 2011 EdmodoCon online conference. It was a great way to learn more about how other educators are using the program. One feature is the ability to reserve a domain name for your school. It allows the administrator(s) to get analytic information about the use of Edmodo and communicate across the teachers and students at the school or district level.

The students are learning to type ourschoolname.edmodo.com to go to the web site. I am enjoying the comments students are leaving in the evening in response to feedback I have given them about the first project.

Basics of Edmodo
Many of the fifth, seventh, and eighth grade students tested Edmodo with me last May. We did not really scratch the surface of the program and there are new features that were released. My first assignment was similar across all grade levels. The students:
* Answered a poll question - unique to each grade depending on the feedback I was interested in receiving
* Shared their favorite mode of learning and a future career goal which is an option on their profile
* Searched the calendar to find the date that the first trimester ends
* Sent me a direct message with the date
* Clicked the "Turn In" link and sent me an "all finished" message

It's great to be able to send the students quick feedback on their work.

Submitting an Assignment File
My next task is to teach the students how to submit their work files through Edmodo. I wanted a simple task for fourth and fifth grade. I realized that their profile could use an avatar. I decided to see if I could give them a template through Kid Pix. It is a program they easily use.

I created a square that is outlined in black and filled with yellow. I put the Kid Pix file in my resource wiki in case someone else finds it useful. It needs to be downloaded and placed in the Shared - Idea Machine folder. I created a Grade4-5 sub folder to store the Avatar.kpx file.

To use the file in Kid Pix Deluxe 4 for Schools, the students click on the Idea Machine. Next, they double click the Grade4-5 folder, then double click the Avatar.kpx file.

I know many teachers use Tux Paint, too. I created a Tux Paint file and put it on my resource wiki. This file is a black outline with a transparent center since that is what is required by Tux Paint to allow a student to have their work to display on top of the template. If the template is white, the drawings and stamps hide under the template. On an OS X iMac, this is not a simple task. You have to know the following trick. Go to the Tux Paint application icon and right click (control click). Choose Show Package Contents from the menu. Open the Contents folder, navigate to the Resources folder, then the starters folder. This is where templates are placed; in this case, the Avatar.png file.

Students would click the New icon then scroll down the list until they see the black outline of a square.

The students enjoyed designing an avatar. We did not finish the task today. During our next class, the students will flatten any stickers and words, save the file, then submit the file to Edmodo.

There will be a follow-up assignment to save the image as a JPEG file. They will learn to use the settings link in Edmodo and browse for the image. In Kid Pix, I will place a shortcut to the Shared Users folder on the desktop for ease of locating the file. Kid Pix really buries the folder on the hard drive.

I'm looking forward to seeing all the colorful avatars in Edmodo next week.