Monday, June 8, 2015

Taina Arkimo: My Edmodo-experiences during Pilot-course

I am a French teacher in Viikki teacher training school. Edmodo is my first experience of a digital platform. I wanted to take part in this project, because the digital baccalaureate is approaching in Finland and I wanted to find a new tool to work with my students and get them accustomed to this kind of environment. I also liked the way that this project was built: a couple of days of learning together at the beginning and the rest of the semester working and trying different tools with the help of the tutors that also kept pushing and encouraging.
The group I chose (1st grade of upper secondary school) belongs to the first ‘generation’ that will perform their French baccalaureate in a digital form. I also have the pleasure of keeping the same group for three years. I found Edmodo a practical way of sharing information, documents and links. We don’t really have good school books for the long program in French, so a lot of the material comes from the teacher any way.
I used quite a lot of the assignment tool. Both my students and I found it a practical way of handing out writings. If there are not that many mistakes (grammar, spelling) it’s easy to give comments and grade, but in French there is usually a lot to correct, so I still found it easier to print the documents and make the corrections by hand. That is something I have to think of in the future. The digital way of working shouldn’t be more difficult or time consuming than the traditional one.

I created two types of small groups
-        the students worked in groups of 3-4 and made a presentation together (for the whole school), every group working on a small project that we put together in a common bigger project using Google slides. The project succeeded very well.
-        I also created a small group for each student so that they could use it as a digital portfolio and store their writings and all they find interesting in our French courses during three years that we work together
I am not assured that the Quiz tool it is very practical for foreign languages. Multiple choice or true/false are not the best ways of testing a foreign language and in productive exercises there are sometimes many correct ways to say things and the smallest spelling mistakes count (eg. accents in French). I still intend to continue and try different things with this tool, because it is practical otherwise.

It was mostly the teacher (either my teacher trainees or I) who uploaded documents and links on the platform but I tried to activate the students, too. Together we created mind maps on different themes (education, working life). There again we used a Google document. The idea was better than the outcome, because all did not actively take part in the project and they also found it difficult to study the vocabulary with the help of this mind map. They would have preferred the traditional list of words with a translation. However, I encouraged the students to link Quizzlets they’ve made for their fellow students to help them study the vocabulary. That was very useful, worked well and the Quzzlet-maker was also awarded a badge. This type of activity always has a positive effect on their grade, too. So, everybody gained something.

As I already told, I use a lot of my own material in my teaching, so I found library and folders very useful and it was a nice surprise to discover that the folders I made for one group could be used for all the Edmodo groups. Now I have a lot of material stored but I’ll still have to figure out how to organize and name all the folders.
I included my teacher trainees in this project, too. They had their own Edmodo group mostly for sharing information and discussing, but I also made them co-teachers of the groups they taught, so they could make their own trials and discover better the advantages of this kind of an environment. They appreciated this possibility.

I intended to work only with one group, but at the end of the semester I had four more groups and will definitely continue with Edmodo.

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