Setting up Edmodo

September 7, 2013

This week I have been meeting my new classes (and saying hello to some of the classes that I have kept on). With my new yr 9 and yr 10 classes I have decided to trial Edmodo as a means of setting and collecting homework.

I’ve been hearing a lot about Edmodo in my Twitter feed, but I’d never seen it in use, so I wasn’t really sure how it would work. All the screen shots are from the iPad app. However the app doesn’t yet have the same functionality as the website.

First of all I set up my teacher profile, you can do this by clicking on the ‘I’m a Teacher’ on the sign up screen.

Your pupils can see your profile page, and the other teachers you are connected to (my yr 9’s were very curious about these other teachers.)

You can then set up your classes. Each class has a group code which your pupils use to join your class.

During my first lesson with each class I explained what Edmodo was, showed them how to join, and reminded them that the shared wall in our class space on Edmodo was an extension of our classroom – not somewhere to post inane comments to each other.

At the end of our first lesson I set homework through Edmodo (in my school it is called prep). I made sure to show the pupils how to submit their prep through Edmodo, and most of my pupils have successfully done this (some didn’t quite understand the process, so I may have to go through it again).

When the pupils see this assignment post it has a button labeled ‘turn in’. When they click on this they can upload their prep (and rate it with a smiley face?!). I can then mark it through Edmodo, but more on that (possibly) next week.

I can keep track of the preps I have set, and how many have submitted it through the progress page. You can see here that there are 2 preps under my GCSE RM group. This is because I have 2 small groups within the class, as I have separate sets. By having smaller groups it enables me to set prep to the individual set, while still being able to post to the whole group.

Last of all, you can upload things to your Edmodo library. These files can be included as part of the prep set, so next week there will be a worksheet for my yr 9’s to complete as part of their prep.

It is still early days, but so far I am quite liking Edmodo. Although next week I have to help one of my pupils log in again as he has forgotten his username and password! (Fortunately I can see everyone’s username and reset passwords).

I will keep you updated with how this Edmodo experiment goes.

Getting Ready for the New Term

August 31, 2013

The new academic year starts on Monday (pupils start back on Tuesday), so I have been doing some of the little admin tasks that I need to do to be ready to teach my new classes. I am sure that my way of doing things is not the most time efficient, but I haven’t worked out an easier way of doing it yet.

So I thought I would show you the process I go through. Some things I can’t show due to data protection, but I will describe the stages I go through.

I like to have the photos of my pupils in my register as it helps me to learn lots of new names quickly. Also my pupils use email as their main communication tools with me, so I need to know who is sending me the email, hence my slightly long winded process.

It all starts at school, where I use our pupil management software to download my class lists with photos of pupils. We use iSams, but many other school use which can do the same thing. I then right click on each of my pupil photographs and ‘save picture as’ to save into my documents (I file these by year group).

Then I open my school outlook and I add each pupil to my contacts (this is not as many as it seems, as many of them are already there!). I add the pupil photograph to each ‘contact card’. I also have a similar structure in place for all the teachers in my school as well.

Now that all of my pupils are in my outlook contacts (which is useful when they email me as their picture comes up!), I can start setting up my register.

I have mentioned before that I have been trying out Teacher Kit, as I have enjoyed using it for the past few terms I have decided to keep using it (at least until the promised Teachers Attaché update happens). But before I could start setting up my classes for this year, I needed to archive the data from the previous academic year. So this is how you do it:

When you open each class you have some buttons to tap in the top right corner, one of them is the export button. When you tap this you can decide what data you would like to export for this class, and how you wish to export it. I chose everything and exported via email. This meant that the data was emailed using CSV format to my school email, so I could save it.

I then deleted each class (after checking that the data had arrived).

This left me with an empty Teacher Kit. So now I could start adding my classes.

When you add a new class you have a variety of ways of adding the students. One of them is to add from contacts, which is useful when I have my school outlook synced to my iPad. So I can quickly search for a pupil from my contacts and they are added to the class with their picture already attached.

It took me about 1/2 hour at school adding pupils to my outlook with their pictures and another 1/2 hour at home to add my classes into my iPad. Although I did leave a full 24 hours for the data to sync between my school outlook and my iPad.

Some other features that Teacher Kit has that I find very useful are:

Being able to have customisable student fields.

Customisable attendance fields (the music lesson one is very useful). But most importantly

being able to set up my own grading fields (my school as an unusual method of grading work!).

So I am ready to greet my new classes on Tuesday, and hopefully the photographs will help me to distinguish between the various Oliver’s and James’ that seems to be ‘the’ name of the year (almost all of my classes have at least 2 of each!).

Next week I hoping to feed back on how easy it is to set up Edmodo with my senior school classes. Fingers crossed it all goes smoothly…..

Keep a Teenager Busy all Summer

August 24, 2013

Firstly I would like to apologies for the lack of posts in recent weeks, it has been a very busy summer! You may have gathered that I have a teenage daughter (well 12, going on 15). She is in a typical phase of 'there is nothing to do' and 'I bored'. So this summer I decided to try something new, to hopefully keep her entertained (and by extension prevent me from tearing my hair out in exasperation).

Let me introduce you to the 'Jar of Stuff':

It is quite literally a plastic tub with folded pieces of paper inside. We both wrote ideas for things to do, ranging from the very exciting (like go to Go Ape), to the slightly more mundane (invite a friend round) and of course the very boring but essential (go school uniform shopping).

Then at the start of each week she would pick out 5 pieces of paper, each week she was allowed to exchange one piece of paper (just in case something came out that we really didn't want to do that week). Everything else would be allocated a day on my (home made) summer holiday calander.

Here are some of the things we have done this summer:

  • We spent a day journeying round London completing a Treasure Trail (ours was a murder mystery round the Covent Garen area)
  • Visited my favourite stately home / enchanted forest: Groombridge Place (they have giant swings!)
  • Spent an entire day playing games (including card games, board games and PS3 games)
  • Been ice skating and bowling at Guildford Spectrum (although falling flat on the ice damaged my knee a little).
  • Been to my school (on a few occasions) so she could make aluminium plaques for Cosplay (while I could label boxes for my GCSE pupils).

So as you can see we have been quite busy, and so far (touch wood) there has been very little 'there's nothing to do'.

But now we are starting to prepare for the beginning of term. This week I have lots of admin tasks to do to prepare for September. I am hoping to blog about how I am setting my classes in next weeks post. But for now I need to go prepare, as I am off to Go Ape (and am slightly terrified).


A Useful Little App

June 29, 2013

Please excuse the short post today, it’s the start of the summer holidays and I am very tired (and yet somehow have a very busy weekend).

A link to a design app appeared in my twitter feed this week. It is called Design Tools and is a very simple, yet effective, app.

It basically shows the sizes or values of digital and paper media (with a nice colour converter thrown in). This is quite a useful thing in my subject, especially when I am trying to look up the colour codes for my intranet pages.

It was very useful this week when I was making my business cards to hand out to new tutor parents (as the programme I was using didn’t have any templates).

A handy converter for resizing keynote slides to A4 paper (it’s how I make my handouts).

And the, previously mentioned, colour converter!

Simple, yet quite a useful little app.

‘How To’ Guides

June 15, 2013

This week I discovered a new app called Snapguide. I am not sure how useful it is going to be, but thought I would share it in case.

Basically Snapguide is a way of using pictures and video to easily create a ‘how to’ guide. These guides can then be viewed by anyone over the Internet (on the Snapguide website), or through the app.

You can have a look at a guide I’ve made about putting a drill bit in a pillar drill to get the general idea.

At the moment a lot of the guides seem to be geared more towards things like ‘baking brownies’ or ‘changing a tyre’. Hence why I’m not sure how useful it would be.

However, it was incredibly easy and quick to make the guide. The app walks you through it, and you are limited as to how much you can type for each picture.

You can either take photos while in the app, or add from your camera roll. Then you simply add some text to each stage, fill out the supplies on the first page and then publish.

You do have to pick a topic to link your guide to. So far none of the available topics are particularly useful to the guides I would want to make. However, I did contact Snapguide asking if there could be an ‘Education’ topic and they responded very quickly saying that they are seriously considering adding it. So fingers crossed!

Sharing Files (the easy way)

April 13, 2013

As well as using Dropbox, which I posted about before, I also use another cloud service purely for sharing files with others. It is called Dropmark.

The main reason for this is I don’t want these files clogging up my dropbox (where I store my everyday files), plus it is extremely easy to share files through Dropmark.

Let me give you a quick guide tour:

The main dashboard has a series of folders called ‘collections’, which you can set individual permissions for.

So if you wanted to access my ‘Socrative Inset’ collection (which I shared the link for when I posted about the training I ran) you would need the link to the folder (which is right here).

Alternatively, the SOW789 collection is shared with just one other person, so they have been emailed the link through Dropmark. They don’t need to have a Dropmark account to view and download the files.

It is very easy to add new collections, the only limit you have (with the basic free account) is you have a maximum of 250MB space. As with all other cloud accounts, you can pay to have more space.

To add files to collections you simply drag and drop them (if you are on a normal computer) or click add file if on an iPad. There is also a Mac app which makes uploading to Dropmark even easier.

Becuase there are so many different cloud services available, it is really down to personal preferences as to which one you like to use. But for easy collaborating, I definitely prefer Dropmark over Dropbox.

Social Media with Pupils?

April 6, 2013

In a few short weeks, my GCSE pupils will be going on study leave. The exam for my subject is one of the last ones they will do, so once we start approaching the end of June I offer to run an in school revision session for those pupils who wish to come in. However, contacting them all has proved difficult in the past (sending an email does not always guarantee they will read it!). So I thought I would try and use social media (specifically Facebook) as a form of class communication.

We do have a very good intranet at school, which my pupils are used to using all the time to access resources. But they have to log in from home through the school website. I have been told by some of them that once they go on study leave, they only log in if they have to find something for their revision. Whereas they have Facebook on in the background almost all the time!

I know that there is a ‘safer’ form of Facebook in the form of Edmodo, but I don’t have the time to get them used to using it. I am planning on trialling Edmodo with my new GCSE class next year (as I will have 2 years to train them on using it!)

Anyway, back to Facebook.

I decided to set up a ‘page’ after reading this helpful explanation of the difference between ‘page’ and ‘group’. On my page I can post notifications, invitations to events (like revision sessions) and notes (like their holiday prep). Pupils can comment on individual posts I make, but can’t create their own post. However, unlike a group, a page cannot (to my knowledge) be set to private or invitation only. So in theory anyone could comment on the page, but I can delete comments.

It is still early days, but if this works (i.e if I get positive feedback from pupils) then I may use this more often. And if you are thinking of doing the same thing, make sure you check your school’s policy on use of the Internet and social media. I was pleased to find out that my school had the ‘use it sensibly, if in doubt don’t post’ approach. I also checked with our head of ICT before starting this endeavour, and he was quite supportive.

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