Thing 12: Edmodo & Schoology

This is a topic that although I am intrigued by Learning Management Systems, I find them extremely difficult to implement with so students. First, I have over 300 students and even if I just focused on one grade, that is still around 60 students. Second, many of my students do not have Internet access in their homes. Lastly, my teachers are not using these tools so I wouldn’t be able to collaborate with them.

Several years ago, I tried using Edmodo with my 5th and 6th grade classes. I added assignments, quizzes, and allowed them time to chat with each other. My students loved the social aspect but had a difficult time following the rules that were discussed: no bullying, no foul language, no personal discussions, and no changing profile pictures unless it was copyright free. By the end of the year, I received an email from a mother wanting to know who was responsible for watching over the site because her daughter was being bullied. Of course, this parent never bothered to read her daughter’s posts or she would have discovered that it was going both ways and her daughter actually started the whole thing. I ended up disabling all student accounts and haven’t used it since. Not the outcome I expected.

In my short exploration of Schoology, it seems to have a similar interface to Edmodo. I liked how easy it was to create a task, quiz, and also on the flip side, how easy it was to take a quiz or submit an assignment. The fact that students can submit an assignment and update it and you still have a copy of each version is a great way to show evidence of the process students take when writing. 

One of the things I didn’t like about Edmodo was that my comments and interactions integrated into all of the comments and many times students missed what I sent because it was buried by other comments. Schoology seems to have fixed this problem by having messages from the teacher separated from all other discussions. 

Sometime in the next year or so, several of my classes will have 1 to 1 iPads. The team is currently reviewing learning management systems and other programs to use in implementing this program. Next time they meet, I will suggest they look at Schoology. In the meantime, I have an upcoming research project with 6th graders on volcanoes — maybe I will give Schoology a try.


A Hidden Gem – LitPick

During a slow day of classes at school and while browsing the Internet looking for new ideas, I stumbled across AASL’s Best Websites for Teaching and Learning. After looking through the various resources, I found LitPick to be one of the more interesting websites listed because it offered free ebooks to young adults and a place for young adults to write reviews and connect with other readers. The mission of LitPick is “to help preteens and teens develop a lifelong love of reading by empowering young readers to share their opinions in a social community (LitPick: About Us: Our Mission).”

LitPick is free for young adults and has  a quick sign up process. Teachers can also sign up whole groups of students. Once signed in students can begin to read ebooks. After reading the books, students are expected to add their review of the book to the website. For those who don’t have access to the Internet, there is a pay option to receive print copies of books. After looking through the list of books, I was quite surprised to see the newest Diary of a Wimpy Kid was one of the books available for students.

Adults can also become members and are eligible to apply for book giveaways but cannot access the free ebooks. Adults cannot post reviews directly to the website but their is a place to post them on the forums where students could see them.

I loved the idea of the website that I signed up right away and even applied for a few of the book giveaways. Three days later, I had received my first free book. Although I haven’t finished reading this book yet, I plan to add my reviews to this blog and link back to LitPicks so other people can find it.

If you haven’t checked it out yet, I highly recommend you do so right away.