Wednesday, March 14, 2012

First day in the lab

Part 4 of a series on a new Google Apps for Education project in which 5th grade music students are doing a research project about composers and creating websites.

Yesterday was our first day in the computer lab.  Was everything ready?
• Edmodo permission slips turned in ... check!
• Edmodo student accounts created ... check!
• Apple TV connected to projector and working ... check!
• Screencast uploaded and waiting for students in Edmodo ... check!
• Google Form composer survey shared and waiting for students in Edmodo ... check!

My biggest fear was that I would have messed up a username or password as I created Edmodo accounts, but all 50 accounts turned out to work perfectly.

Why am I using Edmodo?

First of all, we need a "library" for our composer information.  I like that Edmodo gave me that ability.  It also lets me create folders for various types of information about our composers (i.e., biographies, timelines, images).
Second, Edmodo allows for the collaboration that I was looking for with this project.
Third, it will allow students to work on the project from anywhere in the world if they so choose.
Fourth, I find the user interface very intuitive for kids.
There were other options like Livebinders and Diigo, but I picked Edmodo for these reasons.

When students logged into Edmodo for the first time, you could hear several kids quietly exclaiming, "It looks like Facebook!"  I had carefully avoided that word as I had told kids about the project.  "Yes, it looks like Facebook, and we will discuss similarities and differences later.  But for now, here is your task ..." and we got to work.  No posting today.

The first task included watching a screencast I created (Quicktime-Schooltube) about opening multiple tabs in a browser window, finding our Edmodo biography library in one tab, and opening our Google Form composer survey in another tab.  By the end of class, the students had to use their biographies to answer basic questions about their composer.  The questions ask about country where he/she lived, male/female composer, and musical era.  The task is more about finding your way around Edmodo than gathering information, the students don't realize it and it does give us good data.  When finished, I will share the data from the form with them.

Most successfully completed the survey.  A few got to the end of class and did not realize that the survey does not save if you only completed half of it and will need to start over next time.

Another note - plugging my Apple TV into the projector allowed me to use my iPad to roam the room and give instruction without constantly running back to my laptop.  I was logged into Edmodo as a fake student in my class through Safari and as myself (teacher account) through the Edmodo app.  I was able to demonstrate Edmodo from both the teacher and student side at the double-click of a button.

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