Mr Finlayson

Education and Technology

Posts Tagged ‘Education’

Edmodo 4 – Negatives?

Posted by alexfinlayson on August 17, 2009

Edmodo 4 – The Negatives?

So I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t give a run-down of the negative aspects of Edmodo.

1) It’s pretty easy to crack into  –  so with large groups – safety can be compromised. Should get parental permission (but you knew that)

2(ish) Kids can chat without teacher supervision

3… no… that’s it… that’s all I got. So if you can use Edmodo and you deem it safe, you’ve done all your checks, got all the permission slips back… go for it… it’s incredible…as this teacher says in an *ahem* well-written and thought-provoking post on Edmodos own blog – it really is a wonderful tool for engagement!

and can I just say that this anonymous post has a wonderful style and tone to it… it makes me feel that the author is a really cool guy (or girl – sorry) just trying hard to reach their students on an appropriate and engaging level without ruffling any feathers… good luck to him (or her) 😉

All the best, Mr F


That’s it… It’s awesome – if you can use it – use it!


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Edmodo 3 – In Class

Posted by alexfinlayson on August 12, 2009

Edmodo in ClassEdmodo

 The use of Edmodo in class is the one thing that caused me a few headaches… all the computers in the school bar my laptop were running Internet Explorer 6 and Edmodo requires 7 or better to run. I went through all the appropriate channels and was kindly instructed that I could upgrade two computers to Internet Explorer 8 – I would say that the hassle associated with this (IE8 is a pain in the backside) was worth it for the benefits of Edmodo but now that we can no longer use Edmodo… well… I’ve got nothing to say…

Kind of…

 So I didn’t particularly get to use Edmodo as much as I would have liked but in the small time available we did do a number of really cool things…

 1 Embed Videos


Vid RosenEveryone knows the dangers of using YouTube in class. As educators we have to be extremely careful and sensitive with what we let our kids see. Edmodo eases that burden by swiftly and smoothly allowing any video with an embed code to be placed directly into the posts without any of the extra paraphernalia that causes Youtube-related headaches. Not only that but you can ‘tag’ each post and effectively create a ‘videos’ page where they are all listed. 






2 Embed Flash



Many of you will be aware of the myriad of Flash resources out there – being English I’m a big fan of the BBC Bitesize website and the games/lessons that they freely provide the embed codes for. I have taken a number of these in the past and posted them on Edmodo the night before the planned lesson – thus allowing those attentive kids to get a head-start (turns out that that was nearly all!)

I post these into specific subject groups, tag them and then use them in the lessons.




3 Groups and Tags




I had a group for the three main subject areas Literacy, Numeracy and Science and created tags for subgroups – easily allowing access to digital resources as stated above. If students have subject-specific questions then I encouraged them to post here and we addressed them in class.






4 Links



BBC Bitesize again, subject-specific groups again and tags… again. This time I linked a brilliant game called Questionaut (will blog at a later date) for use on the IWB by fast-finishers. We actually ended up using it a number of times as a starter activity or a group plenary but still; very effective and efficient.




5 Absenses


 In the two weeks that Edmodo was a part of my class I had three different students off school for various reasons – each student logged onto Edmodo just after 9am and talked to the class via the IWB – I even set them work to do! (Cruel I know but they did it!)

I’m sure there are a million more uses but let me end it there… the one thing I will comment on is that we are preparing our students to be safe, confident, positive people in an increasingly risky digital world. Most of my class make private use of MSN, MySpace and Facebook – why should we fear to educate them in the mediums of which they are already familiar? It is our job to guide them in the safe usage of these tools – Edmodo is a wonderful means for this end.

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Edmodo 2 – Assignments and Homework

Posted by alexfinlayson on August 12, 2009

Edmodo 2 – Assignments and Homework

I am no longer able to use Edmodo but remain hopeful for the future. In my short time using the tool I feel I have learned a lot – largely due to the simple, user-friendly interface and the wonderful support of the head-honchos (through their support group and Twitter) Not to mention the wonderful enthusiasm of my students.

 consoleThe main console of Edmodo has a number of handy features – you can post notes, web links, add documents, embed videos, send alerts (seen as larger than normal text and highlighted in every group members’ ‘Spotlight’ tab) but the one I would like to focus on in this post is the ‘Assignments’ feature.

When you post assignments you can give it a title, add a description, upload or link to documents and then set the due date. This assignment then becomes visible on every group members screen; is highlighted in their spotlight tab and appears on the calendar.



I’ve found that every time I’ve posted an assignment – most students have completed and turned them in well before the due date (for my class this is highly unusual)






I’d like to walk you through the last assignment I posted…

 The post looks like this…








the website I’ve linked to is – a wonderful little program for creating comics within set parameters. The instructions file mentioned can be found here –  Week 5 English – but in brief it asks my students to use the website to create a comic poem – one that can span 4 panels – or can be 4 small poems.

I could then get the students to print out or email me the finished result but the hidden purpose of this assignment is to develop the ability to follow written instructions. With that in mind the instruction sheet guides the students through taking an accurate screenshot, pasting the image, cropping and embedding it into the instructions sheet. They then save the file and go back to Edmodo.

On the students screen they find the assignment and click ‘turn-in’ (I had to explain to my Aussie class what this meant) This leads them to a screen where they can upload the completed homework sheet back onto Edmodo and effectively ‘hand-in’ (for the Aussies) their homework online. They also have the option to add a note/comment when they do this – brilliant.

 A wonderful little feature of Edmodo (one of those extras that really sell the program to me) is Spotlightwhat happens next. As soon as the student ‘turns-in’ their work – the teacher is notified (via the spotlight tab) and it can be marked. You can either download the full document or click the handy little ‘view’ button to see the document via Scribd. You can input a simple ?? / ?? score and give feedback direct to the student – brilliant.


As a teacher you will also love the handy screen that lists all your students with a green ‘turned-in’ or red ‘not turned-in’ tab under each avatar. So easy to follow up on assignments. Brilliant!

 Edmodo also makes it very easy to offer that little bit extra help to your students as this post (made at 3:30 on the day the homework was set) illustrates…



  After reading I did a walkthrough with the class on the Tuesday morning… although strictly speaking… I didn’t. One of my students did. Possibly my least enthusiastic student and one who has NEVER handed in a piece of homework in the 6 months I’ve taught him – had already handed in his assignment – and he volunteered to do it again and show the class. So he did, from scratch, on the IWB for the rest of the class to see – absolutely brilliant!




Such a shame that those members of my class who didn’t do their homework on Monday evening won’t get to do it this way… good job there’s not many of them 😉

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Myst Literacy Unit Plan

Posted by alexfinlayson on June 15, 2009

When I started out on this little Myst adventure I wasted a long, long time trawling the internet searching for ready-made plans that I could *ahem* ‘liberate’ ideas from… I had no success so eventually I just sucked it up and wrote one from scratch…
Now, my plans (much to the delight of my boss) usually look like this…

Typical Plan

So in my search for nice teacher-karma (making up for everything I’ve *ahem* ‘liberated’) I decided to tidy the plan up – present it properly and upload it onto the web so anyone in a similar position has a good jumping off point.
It’s not perfect,  I deleted a lot that was specific to individuals (turned out that was a lot) and it probably won’t be thorough enough but there are a lot of teaching ideas to work with and a few assessment pieces.
You can find it in my Myst page or download directly from here:

Myst Literacy Unit Plan

Credit must go to Graham at Adventure Game Walkthroughs for his excellent guide to realMyst.

Posted in Education, Myst | Tagged: , , , , , , | 7 Comments »


Posted by alexfinlayson on June 12, 2009

I’ve mentioned Wordle in a number of posts so I thought it was about time I talked specifically about this wonderful little program and its potential for use in the classroom…

In their own words…

“Wordle is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like. You can print them out, or save them to the Wordle gallery to share with your friends”.

Simply put – you enter text into the box – click ‘create’ and a word cloud is generated; giving the most frequently used words more prominence.

Playing Around – Pick the Poem

While I was getting used to the format I used some classic poems, simply inputting the text and clicking ‘create’…

Can you guess what they are? – hold your mouse over the picture to see the title and poet


 The Lady of Shalott by Alfred Lord Tennyson





Please Mrs Butler by Allen AhlbergDaffodils by William Wordsworth









Chocolate Cake by Michael Rosen

The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes









Talking Turkeys by Benjamin ZephaniahThe Raven by Edgar Allen Poe

 Educational Use…

  1. What you just did
  2. Scrapbooking
  3. Analysis of text – Newspaper Articles, Science Reports, Poems – what is the key subject matter?
  4. Vocab list
  5. High-frequency ‘no-excuses’ word wall (display those words that should never be wrong – all classes should have this)
  6. Analysis of key words
  7. Analysis of over-used words (we do this a lot)

E.g. – One of our very first Myst lessons was to write a description of Myst Island. My guys all wrote sentences in their Myst Journals, edited them, then typed them up into a Wiki. We then copied all 20 pieces of text into Wordle… this was the result…

Myst Island

We then used this image to analyse the key words the guys had chosen to describe the island…

Were they too simple?

Could we do better?

This led on to lessons using Visuwords, thesaurus’, similes and metaphorical expressions.


NB: Important – the standard link to Wordle (  takes you to the home page. This page has examples of user-wordle docs. They are not censored. It is wise to link directly to the create page ( thus avoiding images created using the text from a letter to Playboy (true story!) 

And finally, what does this Wordle show?

A Wordle Cloud generated from all the text in this post

Posted in Education | Tagged: , , | 5 Comments »