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Now that I’m officially in my second week of school, I’ve been putting Edmodo, a safe, social networking tool for K-12 education to test.  I have 75 language art students and wanted a blogging platform, but quickly discovered most have begun charging for their products.  Determined to locate a free and better option, I stumbled upon last spring.  Intrigued, I dabbled with it off and on for a few months, but was unable to run it through the ringer until now.

First I must say the intuitiveness of this product is amazing.  It’s user friendly, functional, and fairly easy to manage.  All a teacher needs to do is login, create a class, and copy the generated group code.  Students type the code in at Edmodo’s homepage, create a username, and they are automatically enrolled.  No student emails are required, which is another excellent and critical piece for most teachers.

Similar to Moodle or Blackboard, teachers can create assignments, set up discussions, etc. but my favorite component is the ability to embed anything as long as you have the html code.  It’s wonderful!  I simply embed video clips, Google forms, Scribd PDF books, and more to start discussions or use in my classroom instruction.  Nothing could be simpler or better to push a paperless classroom.

Additionally my other favorite features are the ability for students to receive email or SMS text messages when a new assignment or direct post is sent to them and the ease of sending assignments to students when they are absent.  Even today I had a student who was home ill, but she popped into Edmodo during class time and still participated in the discussion and classroom activities.  (I’ve also informed them that if we have school closings, we would still have the opportunity to conduct class via Edmodo).

The only enhancement I believe the social network should consider is the ability to click on a student’s name to view any and all posts or comments made throughout the platform.  Conversations can quickly be lost if not tagged immediately. This can enhance frustration for both teachers and students.

On the positive side, Edmodo has been a wonderful tool for me to extend the learning day of my 8th graders and provide opportunities for each of them to have a voice.  Whether we are doing virtual roundtable discussion book talks or doing research, students are sharing and reflecting in amazing ways. I am truly the lucky one to be a part of those discussions.

My favorite telecollaborative projects are those where students get to write, video, draw, or design unique products and share them with the world.  Perhaps it’s because I’m still a Language Arts teacher at heart, and I get excited about students being creative, but I believe students do have the most buy in when they are able to help contribute not simply their ideas, but a bit of themselves.

The basic idea is having students create original artwork, poetry, short stories, or video productions and publish them on the web.  They become collaborative when your classroom connects with another to share these creations or collaboratively develop them.  The published web space can be a virtual art gallery, a blog, or your own channel on  The possibilities are only limited by your imagination.

Let me share some examples to give you a visual:


  • The Monster Exchange has been very popular for many years.  Here students each draw their own monsters on paper or in a program such as Tux Paint.  The next step is to use technical writing to describe how to draw the monster, which is an excellent way to incorporate math terms in the writing curriculum.  The teacher uploads the writing pieces only for a partner classroom to attempt to recreate the monsters.  Finally both classrooms upload their drawings to compare the original monsters with the “new”.  It’s a great project that I highly recommend for grades 4-6.
  • Scholastic’s Share What You Are Reading –Here Scholastic invites K-12 students to write their own book reviews to share with other students all around the US.  What I especially like about this project is the ease of posting.  Type in a form and submit – no registration, no hoops to jump through making it simple for both teachers and students. Another thought with this site, do your students take Accelerated Reader Tests?  If a quiz has not been released for a title, students could use this site as a virtual book report for points.
  • SchooTube Video Contests are always available to join.  Here your budding filmmakers can share their skills to make a public service announcement or creative and quirky video for prizes.  These projects are usually targeted to 9-12 classrooms, but occasionally you’ll find opportunities for younger students, as well.


Student Publishing Projects are fairly easy to implement, especially with many of the wonderful web 2.0 tools available to produce, manage, and share student work.  Yes, the majority of the work load is placed on the students rather than the teacher, but don’t be fooled, teachers still have some responsibilities, as well.  It’s generally not difficult work, however.

Here are some key thoughts:

  • What curriculum standards can I address through a publishing project?
  • How much time do I expect the project will take? Most publishing projects take a short period of time.
  • How would I like the published work to be shared?  Blog? Photo gallery? Voicethread?
  • What tech support will I need? Do I need help in starting a blog? Will I need to scan in dozens of drawings? Do I know someone who can help with uploading video?

Here is the best part - Doing student publishing projects makes magic to happen in your classroom.  Student creativity will surprise you, friendships will be made with partner classrooms, and you will find yourself pondering new projects before the first one ends.

Today I’m going to share the easiest global collaborative project to implement – the data collection project. Here students collect data on a specific topic such as weather patterns, cultural traditions, or sciences experiments and share that information online with partner classrooms.

Depending on how many schools you have involved, the work is straight forward. It generally consists of the following:

·         Create a project wiki - include a project overview expectations, and deadlines.

·         Find project partners -post the project on social networks or project listservs

·         Create a contact spreadsheet - only needed if multiple classrooms are involved

·         Create a data collection tool - surveys or forms are the easiest, but tables in wikis also work

My favorite aspect of data collection projects is that ANY student can participate. For example, a kindergarten project I helped organize was the Here Birdy, Birdy project. Kindergarten students from 5 North American classrooms collected bird feeder data. During daily calendar time the students recorded the number of birds feeding, what colors of birds they saw, and how much bird seed was eaten. At the end of the week, each teacher posted the data on the project wiki for everyone to share. It was a wonderful opportunity for students to study trends over time.

I’ve also seen data projects on:

Temperatures at noon on the First Day of fall, winter, and spring
Number of teeth first graders lose
Favorite Dr. Suess Books on Read across America Day
Prices of grocery items in different areas of the world
Favorite teenage snack foods
Hours of sunlight
Economic value of a Big Mac

Of course, there are many data collection projects you can join today. If you are considering launching your own data collection project, however, I highly recommend reading The Guided Tour of Data Sharing to get you started.


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