You remember that line “All I ever needed to know about life I learned in kindergarten”? I’d like to coin a similar one:

“All I ever needed to know about teaching I learned from Edmodo.”

But seriously, being a part of the Edmodo community has been better than all my PD hours combined in helping me become the teacher I want to be for my students. In addition to using technology in innovative ways, I’ve learned about:

  • Project based learning (PBL)
  • How to add gaming elements to instruction
  • What the benefits are to “flipping” my classroom
  • And how it’s possible to really differentiate instruction

By participating in the Edmodo PLN (Professional Learning Network), one gets this strange positive feeling that education might actually be headed in a good direction. Weird, right? I’ve used Edmodo for a full two years now and I still find it hard to believe that there is a place that offers both an incredible community for educators while simultaneously providing an AMAZING platform for student learning. I’ve tried other sites that aim at student collaboration, but they all appear so painfully “educational” that even I lose interest quickly.

Not so with Edmodo. My kids love it. It’s almost like our class mascot! I’ve caught students on weekends commenting on posts while I’ve been grading their work through the site. I mean, seriously—something’s up when kids are heading to the site I introduced in class when Facebook is just as readily available.

So, Edmodo is fun. But here’s why. There are other sites that have a similar concept, but this is what sets Edmodo apart from all the others: you can do a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g. Anything. Really! All the things you want to do with your students electronically can be done on Edmodo. (And btw—it’s FREE, which certainly contributes to my enthusiasm.) To see what I mean, take a look-see at this video. I’ll walk you through my Edmodo-routine and give you a run-down on its possibilities in the classroom. You can also view my own Edmodo page here.

The point I’m making is that Edmodo is a one-stop-shop for both your lessons and all the web tools that go with them. And you may have noticed that LessonPaths shows up more than once among the tools I incorporate—and that’s because it’s awesome. LessonPaths single-handedly gave me practical tools to flip my classes in a way that works for ESL (English as a Second Language) students. The change was instantaneous when I started providing instructions to web tools through the site and displaying my reading assignments independently, via playlists, rather than through direct, whole class instruction.

Animoto is another tool I use that allows me to create videos that LessonPaths and Edmodo then help me organize and share. Here’s how you do it:

I would provide the link to one of my reading playlists as well, but they contain copyrighted material so I have to set them as “private” for my students only. But to give you an idea of what they look like:

  • I start with a Prezi that provides notes for comprehension focus.
  • Next I include front loaded vocabulary—I use vocabulary videos that my students created prior to reading through Animoto, and then I link them all through the blog post that makes the second step of the playlist.
  • From there on in the playlist, each page of the reading passage is paired with accompanying audio. I alternate each page of reading with a LessonPaths quiz to help keep the kids focused and on the right track.

And that’s it! The playlist comes out lookin’ good and my students have actually read it. I’m crying a little just thinking about it. And because the site is interactive and engaging, my students are able to get so much more out of reading alone than when I was trying to manage the whole thing myself (if you’ve tried to get a room full of teenagers to sit quietly and read along with a story in a language that’s unfamiliar to them, you’ll understand why this is a big deal).

Now they can now take care of themselves during a task that previously sent me pill-popping, and I can actually teach. I can also differentiate my room based on students’ needs in English and talk with them about what they read. It’s easier now for me to teach students the English they need to communicate their feelings, and most importantly, I can enjoy my job. What I’m describing here, really, is the benefits of a flipped classroom; and for me, the flip was possible with the help of LessonPaths and Edmodo.

Thanks, guys!