Well, the current school year of 2013/2014 is coming to a close…as of Thursday, June 5, 2014, my students are sone for the year. Before the end of the year we started having what was called “Step-up Day” where students would go around with their next year’s schedules and meet their teachers for the upcoming year. We are a smaller school, so most of the high school students and teachers can at least recognize each other on site if not know each other already. The big introduction comes from the Eighth Graders who come up from the middle school. This year due to a myriad of issues, there will be no “Step-up Day.”
I will have two Ninth Grade Honors Civics Classes next year. The transition from 8th to 9th Grade is a tough one for some students; add to that jumping in to an honors course AND the non-traditional structure of my course…it can take a bit of time for them to adjust. To combat the changes I have already set up my Edmodo classroom for the Honors Classes and emailed the code to their 8th Grade Social Studies Teacher. Students will not be given mandatory summer assignments, but will have the opportunity to voluntarily check out resources and items that will be posted over the summer.
Those who participate will receive badges, or some sort of fun reward for taking the time out of their summer to peruse the Edmodo group. The direct benefit for them will be that they will be comfortable with the online classroom and resources before the school year even starts. Hopefully they, and their parents, will also be comfortable enough to communicate and ask any questions that may arise during the upcoming year. My goal is to make them more prepared for the challenges they will be facing next year and beyond…(sorry Buzz Lightyear, I could not resist stealing your line.)
It has been less than 24 hours since the students have had the Edmodo join code and 4 students have already joined the group. They will be greeted with a typed message and two Touchcast videos from yours truly, but that is another post…
Okay, I paraphrased a popular tag line from a commercial as my title…bad cliche. I just wanted to emphasize the fact that setting up blogs for my classes was not difficult, it just took some time. If I was a better typist, I could have finished the set up process in half the time if not less. Here is the process:
First, I have upgraded to an Edublogs Pro Account, this upgrade enabled me to add students to my account. I clicked on the “Add New Users” tab on the left side of the screen. I was able to type in batches of 15 students, creating usernames, and passwords. I ran into trouble because my students do not have Gaggle email accounts set up as of yet through school. At this point I made the first of several emails to Sue Waters…Sue is on Edublogs Support Team and Sue rocks!!! She has helped me out several times with issues and is a great resource.
She had recommended that I create a generic class email account, in Gmail, which I did. The next step is to insert a “+” then a unique ID between the main email name and the “@gmail” in the address.
It looks similar to this, “my class+student firstname.lastname@example.org” I created users in batches of 15 and gave each a generic password. A verification email was sent to the new email account I created in Gmail. I typed my way through my preliminary class lists in a couple of hours. I set up each student as a “contributor.” This setting allows students to create posts, however they cannot make a post public without my approval. I like this added safety feature, you never know when a student may have a bad day, or get their account hacked, or forget to log out which could lead to bad things happening. I will need to approve every post before they go out over the Internet. I need to grade the posts anyway, so it is not really an issue.
I then copied all of the usernames and passwords onto a Google Doc for reference later. I have found it best to keep all student usernames close by for reference, you never know when you will need them. In hindsight, I should have given every student the same generic password. That would have saved me from copying their log-in information from my email account. My colleague Bryan Pasquale was going to do that with his students…but he did not upgrade to the Pro account. I believe he is going to use the work around of having his students create accounts, but not blogs so he can add them to his blog as contributors…but that is a different post on a different blog….
I hope to roll out the first blog assignment next week across all six of my classes, it will be on student expectations for the year. We will see what they come up with.
My daughter is almost 16 months old. She truly is a miracle and we are very lucky to have her. I sit and watch her add daily to her repertoire of tricks and knowledge, it is truly amazing. My daughter loves to play on the computer. She will walk to either the laptop or desktop and gesture to be picked up to access the keyboards. My daughter is an avid typist, playing with the keyboard pushing buttons and watching what happens. I have published some of her typing to my other blog, but I think I will post her work here in the future, it is a more appropriate setting since she is learning. Once, as she was typing on my laptop, she reached rather quickly and grabbed my cold cup of coffee that was on the dining room table to have a quick drink while recording her thoughts down on the keyboard…I was quick enough to keep the coffee cup on the table and off the floor. Her reaction was to turn around and give me a big cheesy smile from ear to ear with a “gotcha daddy!” look. Now she grabs the mouse and acts like she knows what it does…I have read where kids like her will be more knowledgeable with technology by the age of 10 than most adults today. She is able to scan the screen and point at items that pop up, she really likes the task bar at the bottom of the screen for some reason. I can not figure it out, but she is very attentive. She also loves to curl up in our laps with a book, but only if you let her turn the pages and go at her own pace. I hope to be able to keep up.