To blend or not to blend

Picture from English is Fun FB page

Picture from English is Fun FB page

 PS: Keep in mind that I ♥ working with teens and this is a more of a cry for help than a rant. The sucks part is just illustrational.

Edmodo sucks! moodle sucks! Homework sucks. The norm is that everything sucks for teens. Life sucks. Mom sucks. My friends suck. Most of them here has something and nothing to complain. A happy teen who has a good attitude towards life, family, school, learning sucks the most.

So not to disappoint peers, even those who think life is good will give in a group. If you can get the most influencial ones to work on something with enthusiasm, others will follow. It is also a norm for students here to do the homework just before the class or get away with it whenever possible. Ok, let’s blame the teacher! Let’s blame the school system! Let’s blame the students themselves! We all know that blaming won’t help no one, so changing estrategies might.

Using Edmodo as an experiment to promote interaction with English outside the classroom has promoted nothing more than complains from some teens. Some of them secretly shared they liked it better than using the paper, but most of them hates just the thought of it. I must be doing something wrong and should give up. So it sounds. But earlier this year when we had someone from the publishing house suggesting using Edmodo and tablets to maximize interaction, it was actually interaction IN CLASS. I think I have missed that part of his talk.

The way I see it right now, if the blending is not well designed ( as in my case), started the use of digital in the class (so they get used to navigate it) and compulsory it won’t change school culture on homework. No matter how interesting a task may be seen by us, for them it still sucks. So, I’m thinking of taking it the light way. I’m trying to use it to find out more about them and keep a line of communication open, but failing at using it to its full potential.

Have you ever used Edmodo with teens ( age around 13, 14 or 15)? What kind of activities did you use? How did you integrated it? If you have and didn’t work out, why not?

#An extra note.

I have asked Ss to post their script there. So far, out of 8 groups 3 have posted it. I assume that they don’t see the benefit of it yet. We have only 1h30m per week and that is a way to maximize the correction time. My intention would be to point out language points and discuss with them. But I am having second thoughts. They seem to be highly motivated by f-2-f interaction and something that fails to provide that makes them bored. I wonder also if online platforms to continue the work we do in class, instead of authentic use of language outside the class (movies, social networking, music, etc.) would promote better learning at all.

 #One more thing

Sorry if I don’t sound so enthusiastic right now about using Edmodo outside the classroom. But I’m happy to take full responsability for failing at using it.

 At the end of the post, I decided to google “Edmodo Elt” and got few interesting links. I thought of not posting this blogpost, but maybe someone out there is considering using it or have used and felt just like me.

Here is one of the links that came up in the search. Great blog by the way. I should have thought these guys would have used it.

Edmodo: A Year On byAdopt and Adapt ICT- ELT

http://davidmearns.blogspot.com.br/2012/08/edmodo-year-on.html
 

 

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10 thoughts on “To blend or not to blend

  1. maybe using a new platform is an issue? do they already heavily use say Mark Zuckerbergs site? if so committing to what looks like same thing but for school meets resistance?

    often when i try new tech i fall into the trap that it seems good to me but i fail to really listen to sts views and how it’s not so hot from their pov. :/

    if you can do without the tech just as well, consider dropping it?

    good luck!
    ta
    mura

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  2. Your questions really raise some points I didn’t think of Mura, thanks. My most resistent group in using Edmodo was asked to reflect what a good lesson/task is. We haven’t gotten back to it yet as they are engaged in the new scriptwriting project right now. But I’ll try to gather some courage to open the discussion again on Edmodo and homework. But one of the thing is. Although I really want to take their interests and opinion into consideration (but again it is not all of them), I also know that the resistent ones all want is do nothing which leaves me in a bad situation. Sometimes, giving them the option for are not good. I don’t think I can just drop it. Depending on the homework they either hate it (because there i no way to copy it) or just copy it.

    Thank so much mura for adding your thoughts and trying to help. This will be a tough decision to make. To drop or not to drop.

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  3. For what it’s worth, Rose, the research findings from the People in White Coats all seem to suggest that homework has a minimal effect, if any, on learning. You can win your students over by just dropping the whole homework thing and leaving Edmodo as a social network site for them to use or not use, as they wish.

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    • Hi Ann, thanks so much for leaving a comment.
      I wrote the post on a spur of the moment, and as I reread it I see that it is making a number of different points. One, is homework really useful or needed? Does it actually promote learning? I certainly believe it does. But all depends on the level of engagement of the Ss to accomplish their goal. For instance Ann, they are producing in groups a script and the other group is practicing reading and identifying the message of a given sentence (this involves vocabulary knowledge and grammar, aka language knowledge which right now for them is really low to deal with the script or even a simple and graded text). In order for each group to accomplish their learning goals, it will take much more time devoted to it than an hour and 30 minutes a week. Then, I think this leads me back to the Ss and to reflect with them on the goal of the task and how to accomplish it. I mean what they really want to gain from it and be able to do at the end of the next few weeks. ( I just discovered one thing I did not consider when I introduced the project to them… taking note of this) I believe they can reflect over it and make the commitment, not because I say so (which really I hate if I ever have to say that), but because they want to. Will I get most of them to understand it? I’ll let everyone know in a week or so. As soon as I talk to them about it. Thanks so much nevertheless for you suggestion of dropping it and making me think this is not about me deciding, but why we are using it in the first place and how we can use it to expand and support what they are doing and enjoying in class. Otherwise, I could just give fun stuff or let them get away with copying. There are other points there, but I think your point on homework effectiveness comes at hand. Cheers.

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      • Hi Rose – your blog post has inspired me to go back to John Hattie’s book and I see that I have misquoted him somewhat. He does make the point that his rather gargantuan meta-analysis of research studies reveals that homework has next to no effect on student achievement. However, he draws the inference that this means that we should therefore happily explore alternatives to traditional homework. He reports how many New Zealand schools “did not abandon homework, but tried different approaches. One school worked with students and parents [my emphasis] to create a website of various home challenges and evaluated the effects of this new policy on student motivation, achievement and parent involvement with their children’s learning.”

        Perhaps here is the challenge: to make Edmodo a means of involving parents in working alongside their children?

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        • Ann I really appreciate you taking the time to think over this issue.
          re: different approaches
          Getting parents involved is not an option here I’m afraid. 😦 Especially when comes to English subjects.
          You and Mura have a valid point when you say I should consider dropping Edmodo or using it without the obvious connection to homework. I’m going to consider the second option.
          Reading “Edmodo a year on” made me realise also that is how they used it. I’ll give a second read, but I think they didn’t use the quiz or assignment option. 😉 Maybe that is where I killed all the possibility of having a positive engagement with the tool. I wonder!

          I’ll take notes of the suggestions from David Mearns blog and discuss with Ss on Monday. 🙂 As for homework, I would love to read a blog post from you Ann on the subject. Let me know if you do. Cheers.

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  4. A thing that you wrote that made me think: “No matter how interesting a task may be seen by us, for them it still sucks.”
    A couple points struck me.
    1) For many teenagers, it is easier to just hate everything. They would probably complain about doing nothing as well.
    2) I know that you ask your students for feedback frequently. Their feedback that you have shared in previous posts seems to be inconsistent with this new frustration. Perhaps this is a temporary puzzle, brought on by something else occupying their thoughts as winter comes?
    3) I agree with Mura and TheSecretDOS that the connection between social networking and homework might be problematic, especially if you can’t make the homework optional somehow (or give options for homework? or explain to the students why you want to see their homework this way?). On the other hand, I have to say that it takes time to get used to a new platform for study and I wouldn’t give up on it right away. Maybe they haven’t had enough exposure to it yet? You know best.

    Good luck, Rose! And thanks as always for sharing your thoughts.

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    • I so appreciate your comments/Questions Anne. So glad you made it here.
      1) Point one is so true. (for some Ss, thanks God not all. lol) I still believe that peer pressure plays a major role and can change the dynamic of a group.
      2) What we’re doing IN class is really going well. I see both groups ( Higher levels and Lower ones working in order to achieve a specific goal).
      3) BIG issue may be HOMEWORK for some Ss anyway, rather than the platform. Either paper or digital doesn’t really engage them. But this attitude towards home practice goes to all subjects, not only English. Homework is compulsory in elementary level. Ss’s parents get notified if they don’t do it. I was wondering if making homework more dynamic by using videos, songs, discussions would make any difference with those Ss. Well, it didn’t.

      When I refered to complains which one starts and spread to the next one like a fire 😉 , I was refering to those students who actually trying to get away with the fact that they hadn’t done it, complained! And that affect the other ones as well. Here is some numbers to ilustrate, around 30% did what I asked in due time, another 30% did with some delay. Even though they did it, the number of Ss that don’t feel like doing is great than just around 40%. Which leaves me the question if that is just what it is. A number of students who won’t do homework or pretend they do by copying when possible, in this case, they can’t copy as answers to quiz would be personal or working with videos/pictures would require them to give their opinion… for example. Or perhaps, it is me that don’t know how to engage them through the platform as well as I do in class. However if the task outside the class doesn’t provide any extra practice to what is being done in class, I don’t really see the point of it. Plus, the platform would be really great to expand written practice allowing them time to interact with the language.

      Maybe I could use it for a virtual exchange project!

      But you know what? It remindes me of the internal rules that John F. Fanselow talks about. I must find a way around it. I’ll keep exploring possibilities and trying. Not giving up yet. And well, homework has to stay in the menu. 😉

      Thanks for offering your thoughts.

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  5. Hi, Rose
    I haven’t used Edmodo. However, I have tried to use a blog as an interesting medium to get my students to do homework (I believe it was Shaun Wilden who suggested it at a seminar). I thought it would be intriguing enough to motivate them to practise English outside the classroom. I was disappointed at first. I got almost no feedback from them. Then I tried to use posts in the classroom so that they get used to it. I just didn’t want to give up. In time they began to visit the blog, get involved in some easy projects etc. I’m still not satisfied with their response but the situation is getting better. And I don’t intend to back off. I’m patient and persistent. 🙂

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    • Thanks for sharing Gordana. 🙂 I am going to be patient with this issue, but I am also rethinking the concept of homework through a more authentic approach. Let’s see in few weeks how this goes.

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