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Sunday, October 4, 2015

Edmodo-- a powerful tool for personalizing instruction

All teachers know that good teaching involves differentiating instruction for our diverse group of learners. We also know that this is not always an easy task; trying to teach to the individual needs of our 32 (give or take) students is a challenge! Many of us try using centers or "Job #2"s to engage our early finishers and give us more small group time with struggling learners, but still, the work that we put in those centers end up being 1 or 2 of the same activity for all students to complete.

The growing availability of technology in the classroom has made differentiating and personalizing instruction so much easier than it used to be! I don't claim to be an expert in differentiating instruction, but I do claim to be a thousand times better at it now than I was five years ago, since I've learned to harness the power of thoughtful technology integration.

Enter Edmodo. (Never used Edmodo before... click here for a guide I used to help teachers in my district get started.)

My district originally introduced us to Edmodo as a tool for connecting teachers, but I immediately saw the potential power of using Edmodo with my grade 5 students, and I got my first digital classroom set up about a week later. Below are some of the ways that I used Edmodo to better personalize instruction for all learners in my classroom:
  • Flipped instruction in class: 
    • Flipped instruction allows students to work at their own pace... not being tied to the teacher's pacing or to the needs of the rest of the class is a great way to personalize instruction!
    • Teachers deliver new content by assigning a video, slideshow, screencast, reading, etc. for students to watch (either as a note or assignment)
    • Students can demonstrate their learning by leaving comments on the video post (which can become interactive with their peers when they also respond to other student comments), blogging, attaching their notes for peer/teacher review, completing some type of creative reflection and submitting it as an assignment or posting it to the class wall for their peers to review
  • Differentiated work groups:
    • Teachers can create small groups within a class (for organization's sake, I created a different class on Edmodo for each major subject taught in my self-contained classroom)
    • Sort students into small groups based on the data you are using to level students
    • Assign digital instruction or practice to each group based on their specific needs (whether it's more advanced work or extension activities for students excelling, or reteach lessons for student performing below grade level, etc.)
    • Students can see which of their peers in their small groups, so they can go to their team mates with questions or to collaborate on assignments
    • It's easy to move students around, so teachers can rearrange groups as needed based on changes in student data
    • Blend learning! While some groups work digitally, teachers can pull other groups for face-to-face instruction or reteaching.
  • Empowering students to take responsibility for their learning:
    • Take the "ask 3 before me" rule to another level
    • Create a class on Edmodo specifically for students to help each other
    • Students can become the experts and "help desk" for each other
    • Students needing extra help have the option to go to their teacher OR to work with their classmates... they have multiple options for figuring things out
  • Students become the teachers:
    • In Edmodo, students have the ability to post to class walls and share resources in folders
    • Have students post their findings to the class wall to share information with their peers and create opportunities for conversation 
    • Ask students to choose topics for conversation or study and then post that topic to the class wall for their peers to work on/comment on
  • Individualized learning opportunities:
    • Be honest... what typically happens to the questions that students put on parking lot boards, KWLs, or inquiry charts? They often get forgotten in the rush to teach the required standards, right?
    • Now, when students have to parking lot a question, teachers can go into Edmodo later that day and send direct messages to students with information related to their questions
      • Example: One day a student had a question about inflation and the effects on our economy (definitely not a 5th grade standard that I had time to get into in any detail)
      • I found a couple of videos about inflation and sent them in a direct message to the interested student for independent study
    • This is also a great way to show students that you really listen to them and know their interests... see something online that you know a specific student would love? Send it to them in a direct message on Edmodo!


  1. Amanda, I love your ideas for using Edmodo to differentiate instruction. Although you use it in your 5th grade classroom, do you think it could be used effectively for a 2nd grade classroom, especially to enrich instruction for my higher students? How long did it take your 5th graders to learn to use Edmodo?

    1. Dianne--great question! I've used Edmodo with 3rd and 5th, and although I haven't used it with 2nd grade I could definitely see 2nd graders figuring it out with some practice. I'm a big believer in two things:

      1. With support, students can do anything we challenge them to do
      2. Take a risk and see what happens :)

      Our 2nd graders are used to memorizing passwords for other accounts (Accelerated Reader, GAFE, etc.) so I know the age level is capable of that piece. And I've heard of teachers using similar tools with students as early as Kindergarten, so I believe Edmodo with 2nd graders is definitely doable.

  2. Hi Amanda. I'm visiting your blog via the #educoach blog challenge!

    Edmodo is one of my favorite tools as well. I have used it mostly as a way for teachers in small religious schools who do not have a lot of professional development/co-planning time to stay connected and share resources and ideas. I'm working on modeling Edmodo with teachers to help them see (and experience) the benefits of using Edmodo with their students, too.

  3. Hi Amanda,

    I used Edmodo in my HS classroom to encourage students to converse outside of school when working on problems at home. Often conversations would continue from the classroom, especially when students had been working on a challenging problem and were continuing their problem solving and thinking about it after class was over. It was a great way for student to collaborate with each other and with me.