Monday, March 25, 2013

Teaching With Technology

I don't often use my blog for teacher talk, but I recently learned about two programs too great not to share. If you aren't already using Edmodo & Subtext in your classroom, you're gonna want to read on.

After hearing that a few of the teachers in my school were using Edmodo, I wanted to see what it was all about. At first glance, it reminded me of a Facebook page. 

But further investigation showed me what a great (and FREE) communication tool Edmodo really is. I've just recently started using it with my class, and I know I've only scratched the surface of possibilities.

To set my class up, I assigned each student a username & password, and created a Group. Edmodo gave me a Group Code, which I used to "invite" each of my students. Easy as that. Edmodo also assigned each of my students a Parent Code, which allows parents to see what their students are writing. 

You know my third graders were pumped when I took them to the computer lab to first introduce it! I asked them to sign a pledge promising to use our Edmodo page with kind words to communicate about school-related topics only; they are fully aware that should they break this pledge, their Edmodo use will be suspended. 
The great thing about Edmodo is that students can only post to our class page or directly to me. They cannot send separate messages to one another, which subsided my fears of inappropriate use or cyber-bullying. 

Subtext is a great extension of our classroom. I've used it to post homework, daily reminders, videos, and discussion questions. You can create quizzes, take polls, use apps and much more! Speaking of apps, you've got to check out the Subtext app.
You can download the Subtext app for free on your handheld devices, or you can download it free through Edmodo. I would recommend the latter if you're going to use Edmodo because you can sync your class' Group easily with the Subtext. 

Subtext allows you to download e-books (some that are free), as well as to turn any online text into an e-book for free! When I was planning a lesson on idioms, I Googled "idioms for kids" and found an article that I liked. I saved it to Subtext and this wonderful little app turned it into an e-book.

What's really cool, is that it will read any of the books or documents you download out loud to the children! Furthermore, once you sync your class via Edmodo, Subtext allows you and your students to have a virtual discussion about what they are reading. They can highlight a section and comment on it or pose a question about it to their classmates, as I did above. They can also highlight a word and Google its meaning if they're unsure. And you know the kids love getting to choose from six different highlighter colors (their teacher does too). This app is seriously amazing!

Again, I've only just begun to discover what these awesome technology tools can do, so if you have any tips or pointers about Edmodo or Subtext, please leave a comment. Happy teaching, y'all!

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