It's been a few weeks since my last blog; reports and writing a script for The Children's Shakespeare Festival have got in the way of me writing on here. With reports and the script out of the way, I thought it was about time I wrote about my recent adventures with Edmodo and how the children in my Year 3 class have been using it.
We've been using Edmodo for a few months now and it has transformed the way I have approached my classroom. Using Edmodo in a flipped classroom seems to be the final piece of the puzzle.
So far I have used Edmodo to:
- Set and receive homework
- Create a place for online feedback
- Allow the children to collaborate online
- Share links, videos and photographs
- Communicate with parents
- Share work instantly in the classroom
All this has contributed to a much more organised online classroom. A classroom which the children enjoy learning in.
The image is one of the ways I've begun flipping my classroom for English. I started a while back now flipping my maths lessons and this is really embedded in my classroom. It was time to try something different.
Flipping Primary English and Drama
I started a new topic this term as we've been invited to perform at The New Vic theatre in Stoke as part of the Children's Shakespeare Festival. A huge opportunity for the children in my class to perform on a real stage with professional lights, sound and stage managers. How could I not do it?
As you can read in my previous post (Online Feedback and Peer Assessment) I planned with the children using Padlet and produced our new learning adventure. The stage was set for a great final term with the children.
So I began to post parts of Shakespearean text for the children online to get them thinking about their work before they arrived in school. After I posted the prologue to Romeo and Juliet my iPad started to beep with notifications from the children talking, and sharing thoughts and ideas about the upcoming lesson.
"Why are the families at war at the start of the story?"
"Who dies in the story, who takes their life?"
Some really great questions posed by the children themselves. Something I could have done in the classroom, but crucially it had already got the children thinking about their upcoming learning. Perfect - the learning had begun.
When the children arrived in the classroom, they had already experienced the Prologue with parents at home, they'd asked questions, thought about language, and answered a few questions of their own.
I had also posted the 'Do you bite your thumb at me,' scene prior to our drama session. The children had read it and started to learn the lines needed. A great way for children to learn lines, so I could focus on the delivery and meaning of those lines. Time saved - more chances for effective learning in classroom time.
A great start, but how far could I take this?
Could I put the entire learning process online?
Online Feedback: What are my next steps?
I decided to try and use the assignment feature that Edmodo has built into it, a really simple way for children to submit homework, for teachers and children to leave feedback.
This is the homework I set the children. They logged on read what they needed to do, completed their homework and then uploaded back to me via Edmodo.
I had taken an entire unit on Non-Chronological report writing and put it in the hands of the children. We had produced a few reports this term on Aztec, World War II, and Chocolate production, so this was a real test of independence.
One of the first things I insisted the children do was to post the questions they were going to research online for the whole class to see. I encouraged them to do this so they could get feedback on their questions from not only me, but possibly from the whole class - that's a huge advantage of using this method for peer assessment, thirty children peer assessing instead of just a learning partner.
The image shows that the children began helping each other pose better questions. One child here pointed out that the 3rd question was quite closed, so maybe they would need to think again.
What developed was the whole class were peer assessing online and supporting each other in the completion of this report.
I encouraged the children to post parts of their reports online for feedback, and the class obliged, they really did. Spell checking, sentence checking, fact checking in some cases! All the things I had modelled throughout the year in the children's writing books was being done independently, but online.
We did need to work on the type of feedback they were giving at some points. Writing 'Awesome,' or 'I don't agree,' isn't quality feedback. I modelled good practice; post a reaction, but suggest a way that they can improve further. It began to filter online, the feedback was of much better quality.
Submitting Their Work: Time to Reflect
After a week the children started to 'turn in' their reports online for their feedback. It didn't matter if they hadn't finished, it was a chance to get feedback half way through the report. Here is an example I sent back to one child in my class.
The children received their feedback and then they acted on it, before finally submitting it again.
From a 'time saving' point of view, it was great. I didn't need to sit a desk with a pen to do this, I could do it when I wanted to and where I wanted to. The work would come to me! No books to carry around.
The whole process was a huge success and the children loved the fact that it was all online and they could get access to it whenever they wanted to, and still can get access to it. It's in their personal Edmodo library.
Back in school I gave the children an opportunity to make any final changes to their work before printing them out for their Learning Journals. It was now offline and back in the real world. I had presentations happing in one corner when a group of children crowded around a MacBook whilst one of them gave a talk on Shakespeare using the Prezi they'd submitted. A personal favourite of mine from the project.
Flipping an Art Lesson: Online Video Guides.
I wondered, could I flip an art lesson? Our children have been invited to display their work at Nantwich Art Gallery this summer based around the theme of portraits. We decided to sketch, then paint characters from Romeo and Juliet.
I began by setting their homework again using the Assignment Tool - I asked the children NOT to submit their homework online this time, but to bring it in.
I found video guides on how to draw the proportions of the face and how to draw eyes, noses and mouths. The children were to watch the videos, have a go at home, bring in their sketches and, most importantly, think about which part was the most tricky - their personal next steps in learning.
It was great to see the children bringing their sketches from home and you could clearly see that they'd used the videos from the way they'd approached the sketching.
Again, crucially they could tell me their next steps as they'd tried it at home. They knew which videos to watch when they got to the classroom the next day. You can watch the videos I used on our school website - Pear Tree Primary School
A couple of the children in my class actually photographed their sketches with their iPads and uploaded them to Edmodo before the lesson.
"I struggled with the eyes a little, so I need to try those again." A great piece of reflection, but shared online for the whole class to see.
Another interesting thing happened I wasn't expecting. The parents of the children in my class sent their sketches in as well! They are proud that their work is on display in our classroom.
Another example of parents using the learning going on in their children's classroom to further develop their own skills.
Returning to the real world: The classroom
Back in the classroom the children got the videos out on their iPads and MacBooks, loaded up Edmodo and began focussing on their next steps without any input from me. I just stood back and watched them independently driving their own learning forward.
I spent more time questioning, helping, guiding and pushing the children, the vast majority of my time had been saved by flipping my classroom.
The children are still using the videos to further develop their sketching skills today during their daily sketching sessions in independent time. They have even found other guides on how to sketch hands and different versions of sketching the face.
Where do I go from here?
I have plans to start creating a bank of videos for the children to access via a link on our Edmodo site, as they find it hard to locate videos and work from several weeks ago. I'm hoping that there is a way to 'Pin' posts to the top of the page. Any help?
I'm going to keep flipping more areas of the curriculum for the rest of the year. I've tried PE and Science as well with some good success, particularly the PE sessions when I used a slow motion video of Usain Bolt powering out of the running blocks to help generate success criteria for a good start to a sprint. When the lesson began the children could model how to begin the race - again time saved.
Webinar - Pause, Rewind My Teacher: A Flipped Learning Approach
I presented a Webinar on Flipped learning a few weeks ago that is still available to watch online.
I'd like to thank ITS Learning for allowing me to share my research with the world.
You can watch it again on YouTube - here
It was a great experience and I'm hoping to do some more workshops in the future. If you are interested in me coming to your school to present my work on flipped learning please get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow me on Twitter @chriswaterworth