Friday, November 9, 2012

10 Weeks In: Reflections On Edmodo (part 3)

This year I started using Edmodo instead of ProBoards as my platform of choice for our class forum.
I write about our past class use of Proboards here, and how I planned to use Edmodo in a similar capacity this year here.

This is the final part of a reflection on that decision to migrate platforms.

I created four virtual "rooms" in Edmodo for my students this year:

1) The Fantastic Forum 
2) The Homework Help Room
3) The Ape Room
4) The Reflection and Review Room 

In my previous two posts, I wrote about my experiences with the "Fantastic Forum" and the "Homework Help Room". In this final post in this series I'll discuss the last two rooms.

The Ape Room
The purpose of the Ape Room is to provide a monitored space for fun and safe content. To create a more dynamic community, my Ape Room is open to both fourth and fifth graders. My hope is that students will actually try to test the boundaries of that space. This gives me an opportunity to talk about appropriateness and audience.  I do that anyway, of course. But it's easier for students to learn from their past mistakes than from my lectures from anticipation of future mistakes.

It means that in order to have a risk-taking, mistake-making classroom, there has to be some opportunity to make mistakes. Because Batman's dad taught us that's the best way to learn.

Wait, YOU'RE Batman's dad?

And sometimes students don't know what is appropriate and what isn't. Case in point: Like most schools, probably, this video has been sweeping its way through the populace:

And like most schools younger populace, there are many that have no idea that it's a parody of Seoul's Gangnam district, and by extension, the excess and values of any rich population. What is noticeable from anyone that isn't fluent in Korean (and I'm not) is that:
1) It's strange and funny.
2) There's a close-up of a girl's butt.
3) The English in the video consists solely of "Hey sexy lady."

I'm not sure how I'd handle it if this video was posted in our Ape Room. There's content in the video that is a little too mature for my community. At the same time everyone in my class has already seen it multiple times. I'd probably remove it because it's always better to error on the side of caution. What I definitely would do is to try to put the content of the video in context, and use it as a basis for a lesson on parody. But I'll get to that.
This video wasn't posted in our Ape Room. Instead, a student posted "Teens React To Gangnam Style." The "Teens React" series is popular because apparently people like watching other people they don't know watch videos.
Let it go, Jackie

In that video, teens watch Gangnam style and provide insightful and witty comments that are neither insightful or witty or appropriate for 4th and 5th graders. So I removed it and it provided me with a teaching opportunity.

But I can and will go deeper. Because the original Gangnam style is a parody. And parodies are important to know about because:
1) Many parodies that are called parodies are not.
2) Recognizing what parodies are helps us look critically at what is being parodied, and we're not so quick to emulate the content.

So not only does the Ape Room provide us with a safe place to post and share fun content, but it also provides organic lessons that connect with our community from that content.

The Reflection and Review Room 
This is our least developed virtual space. I've mulled this over quite a bit, and for our online reflections, there are really two ways to go; using this space to reflect on specific projects and behaviors, or using the students' e-portfolios as their reflection platform.
Write now I'm using both. The kids write their original reflections in Edmodo, and copy/past them into their e-portfolios. I don't think that's the way to go, but until I figure which is the best method, I'll try them both.
I could try using a silver ball as our tool of choice

There are a couple of issues that I've discovered when using Edmodo as a reflection space:

1) Edmodo's forum, for whatever reason, seems to encourage short responses. I'm still trying to figure out why. But if I ask my kids to write a reflection directly to their portfolios, I usually get a more in depth response.
2) An e-portfolio platform is more intuitive to multiple questions and answers in a single reflection.

The only way that I can see using Edmodo as a reflective space be actually worth it is if I can get the children to feed off each other somehow. But how to do this exactly still eludes me.

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