Students provide evidence of increased engagement with social reading platform
(Editor’s Note: we asked 5th grade educator Hannah Lindsey to share her experience using the LMS edmodo for a literacy block with students on netbooks. Her blog post is excerpted from a longer reflection prepared for the 2014 AMLE annual conference.)
Does the use of a learning management system impact student engagement and learning outcomes?
Was there a change in learning outcomes and products? Was there a change in student engagement and interest in material, discussions, and each other?
Let’s take a look.
In terms of overall engagement, using edmodo had my students waiting with bated breath for weeks. Every day they wanted to know if we were going to get started. Compared to excitement around regular literature circles, this was a huge improvement.
While I could see an immediate increase in engagement using Edmodo, use of Edmodo does not magically illicit more in-depth responses from students. To work towards higher standards, we had short blocks of instruction time to compare different comments. Students worked as a class to identify how to leave a constructive piece of feedback for a peer.
Students started asking their own questions to each other, sparking discussion and actually following up on their own questions.
Based on student conversations, I created a book recommendation group that everyone belonged to called “Awesome Books to Read.” Here, students could check in for a recommendation, or leave a recommendation for the class. Students could ask questions about the book, compare or contrast opinions, and generally share in the excitement of reading.
Things we liked:
Polls for self-assessment
Edmodo allows teachers to create polls for students to self-assess or provide other helpful feedback. I asked students how edmodo was going, whether they liked our most recent book, and other information. The polls are anonymous, which I think helped provide more honest feedback.
Students wanted to improve on their work, and on their behavior with substitutes, for example. I was able to ask them how it was going in class when I was at a conference, and not even in the building.
Students can make predictions using the polling tool, or come up with their own questions to ask the group.
Edmodo offers badges such as “discussion starter,” “comment master,” and “good question” to reward students. The first time I awarded badges there was a buzz in the classroom and rounds of congratulations being offered. Edmodo announces to the whole class if someone has won a badge, and then that badge stays on the student’s profile.
We used student examples to build our discussion skills, and then eventually students can earn badges to show their hard work and practice of these skills.
How group work was organized
Students could still collaborate with each other in groups using edmodo. They could either post a link to their presentation, movie, or type up a response as a group.
I created these smaller groups for Alice ‘s Adventures in Wonderland and Down the Rabbit Hole for lit. circles. They can each have lit. circle roles and share in a digital discussion (including artwork,) or they can work together in groups with an elected recorder who posts to the main group, read the other group’s posts, re-evaluate their group response and then post again.
Collaborating with other schools on the platform
We also connected with other students around the state in a literature discussion with the book Wonder by R.J. Palacio. Our 5th grade literacy class collaborated with the 7th grade literacy class at PAML. The 7th graders were also reading the book, and created the discussion questions for the Edmodo class. Our 5th graders connected with other 5th graders from East Montpelier Elementary. The students introduced themselves by creating I Am poems and pic collages, which they shared on edmodo.
We used the polling feature to collaborate on a group name for the 5th graders. First we voted in each class for our top choices, and then posted both class choices in a poll. We also got to have a google hangout with the students from East Montpelier, which my class loved. They got to see the other class, (live!) projected on the Smart Board, and have a conversation with them.
Edmodo also allows you to add resources as class discussions take you in new directions. The resources are all in one place, easy for students to find and share, such as clips from an old Alice in Wonderland film, or websites students might find useful.
We discussed surrealist art, looked at examples, and students attached the art examples they connected to in their responses. Students used our classroom library to put together spine poems, using book titles.
Students also took pictures of their own “wonders” in their family when we finished The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs. This was a great opportunity for students to learn more about their classmates. This class was all digital discussion: the whole class was quietly typing, sharing their wonders and commenting and asking questions of their peers. I was also able to comment or ask a question on every student’s “wonder” during the class period. This was a great way to “show and tell” without the nerves of presenting. Everyone can share at their own pace — and everyone was engaged.
How using an LMS for reading changed my teaching practice
- With an LMS, I can give students feedback in real time. I can see the work students submit and offer feedback and give grades as they are working.
- All of my assignments and discussions are stored, so I can revise and reuse them in the future.
- Similarly, Edmodo and Schoology sync with drive, so I can use the two seamlessly together.
- I can provide resources such as handouts, infographics, graphic organizers, websites, music, images and more for my students to use all within their class.
- Students can use images, including their own artwork, to share with the whole class to support their learning.
- I can use badges to award positive feedback for my students.
- My students can collaborate with other students in the building and beyond, without worrying about aligning times for classes to meet.
- I can contact my students when I’m not in the room, or in the building! I have chatted with my students while at a conference, and while I was out sick. My sub plans can include logging on to Schoology, and I can do the rest from home to facilitate a discussion.
- I can give quizzes that can grade themselves, from multiple choice, fill in the blank, to short answer. This lets the students and me check in immediately.
- With our shift into portfolio work, students have an opportunity to capture their learning. With a digital discussion, their questions, responses, and work are saved on the LMS for them to use as evidence in their portfolios.