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Diipo and Edmodo: A Social Network for Classrooms

What it is: If you’re like me, you can think of hundreds of ways that social networks could be used positively in the classroom. The problem: most of us can’t access said networks in our classrooms-blocked by over zealous filtering! Not to worry, there are some great classroom alternatives including Diipo and Edmodo. Diipo is a social network created specially for education.  I learned about this particular tool from @nottil, a high school student in Virginia (thanks @nottil!).  Diipo makes it easy to communicate with your students, connect with other educators, and other classes.  The interface is similar in feel to a Facebook or Twitter making it easy for students and teachers to pick up and start using right away.  We are talking LOW learning curve here. Diipo has dashboards and apps that keep students up-to-date, help them get questions answered, and let them collaborate on blogs and group projects.  Workpages keep students organized from project to project.  Direct messaging features let students start a private conversation with classmates and teachers.  Online project notebooks let students work together and share the information they collect in one, centralized location.  An educator community lets teachers share best practices, educational content, brainstorm for collaborative projects, and pen pal programs between classes.  A class roster makes it easy for teachers and students to communicate with each other. A built in microblogging platform lets students start a conversation, ask questions, and actively participate in class discussions.  Students can build blogs directly in Diipo to share thoughts, reflect on learning, and write collaboratively.  Teachers and students can upload and share documents, links, and resources with classmates or the entire class.  Every conversation and post is archived and searchable making it easy to catch up or find something later.  Students can also tag messages, content, and workpages to make it easier to organize and find content.  The Diipo platform is wonderfully all-inclusive!  Diipo is intended for students 13 years and older. Edmodo is a social networking platform for classrooms that has been around longer.  Edmodo is a free, secure social network for teachers, students, and schools.  It provides classrooms with a safe way to connect and collaborate by offering them place to exchange ideas, share content, and access homework, grades and school notices.  Edmodo is accessible in any browser and from any mobile device.  Like Diipo, Edmodo allows teachers to post messages, discuss classroom topics, assign and grade classwork, share resources and materials, and network and exchange ideas with peers. Edmodo does not have an age limit, students under the age of 18 must have a parent or guardian read the terms of service prior to use. To learn more about how Edmodo came to be, take a min to watch the video below:   While Diipo is in beta, Edmodo has stood the test of time and is used in classrooms around the world. How to integrate Diipo and Edmodo into the classroom: Social networking is a wonderful way to support your students in their learning.  It is also a way for students to take charge and support their own learning by collaborating with classmates.  Use Diipo or Edmodo to organize your class, support students, connect students in a collaborative study group, and to share materials with your students.  This is a great one-stop-shop for classroom communication and resources.  Upload lessons and handouts, websites and links used in class, videos, and any other materials students may find useful to Diipo or Edmodo.   Use the Diipo blogging platform to encourage your students to write for an audience, reflect on learning, continue class discussion, and write collaboratively. Both Diipo and Edmodo promote anytime, anyplace learning-reinforcing once again that learning happens outside of the four walls of the classroom. Using social networks in the classroom provides you with the opportunity to model proper use of social networking, digital citizenship, and teach Internet safety in an authentic environment. Tips: Edmodo has excellent support and training, be sure to sign up for their free webinars! Please leave a comment and share how you are using Diipo and Edmodo in your classroom!

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Oxford Owl: free ebooks (with audio!)

Posted by admin | Posted in Interactive book, Interactive Whiteboard, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 23-07-2013

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Oxford Owl free ebooks: iLearn Technology

What it is: Oxford Owl is an incredible collection of free children’s ebooks for kids ages 3-11.  Each ebook has accompanying audio so that students can choose to read along, or read independently.  The books also have activities that focus on reading comprehension and story recall.  There are several options for filtering the ebooks so that students can find just the right story including by age, by book type, and by series.  In addition to the ebooks on the site, you can find fun activities and recommendations for each age group, games to print and play, and online games with characters from the books and site.

How to integrate Oxford Owl into your classroom:  I am a big fan of books.  Huge even.  It doesn’t matter where they reside, books make me happy.  It makes sense then, that Oxford Owl would be a squeal worthy site for me.  Free ebooks with audio you guys!  This site reminds me a little bit of Lookybook...I’m still lamenting its demise.

Oxford Owl is a great way to instantly expand your classroom library.  Books are leveled by age and include both fiction and non-fiction.  You will find biographies, dictionaries, fiction, myths and legends, non-fiction, phonics, picture books, poetry and books for struggling readers.   The stories that I went through were truly fun to read!  Use the books on Oxford Owl during reading time on classroom computers.  Students can choose a book to go through as a read along (SO very helpful when there are students who really need to read with a buddy, but the buddy situation is limited).   If you only have one or two computers in your classroom, get a headphone splitter and let students read together in small groups.  The related activities are a great way for students to self-monitor comprehension.  Students can also read these stories independently.  When I taught 2nd grade, I had a voracious reader who quickly read through all of the classroom books and was ready for more.  He was only allowed to check out from the library once a week (and usually those books went home) so I would have him use Lookybook.  Oxford Owl would open a whole other world of books for them to read!

We all have days where a few extra minutes to deal with a problem, set up for the next activity, etc.  Oxford Owl could be connected to your interactive whiteboard or projector for students to listen to a story while you get things sorted.  The whole class can enjoy the story together.  My students loved books on the IWB because they could all see the pictures and read along.  Oxford Owl is also ideal for that time of year when the germs settle in and the voice has gone on strike.

One of my favorite things to do in the classroom was reading with small groups of students.  It gave me the opportunity to give them the individual attention that they really deserved and let me get to know them as readers better.  But…what to do with the rest of the class?  I assigned tub work that students could complete independently.  The tubs were centers related to what we were learning during the week.  Each tub contained all the necessary materials that students would need.  This was independent learning they could work on while I was with the small groups.  Oxford Owl would make a great addition to the “tub” work.  Students could visit the computer center and choose some books to read and play the associated games.

Tips:  Now for the unfortunate news: Oxford Owl is flash-based.  BOO! Not ideal at all for a classroom full of iPads like we have at Anastasis.  Luckily, there is a solution.  There are several Flash Browsers that you can download for the iPad to view flash content.  My favorite is Rover (because it is filtered and created for kids!).  If your network is well filtered, I would also recommend iSwifter and Photon.

P.S. We Give Books is another outstanding place to find free ebooks!

P.S.S. Hat Tip to The Techie Classroom- an outstanding blog to add to your reader if it isn’t already there!

Comments (2)

[…] Tips: If you haven’t already, be sure to check out the Oxford Owl Literacy site. […]

What a great resource for classroom teachers. Finding FREE eBooks is hard to do, not to mention books related to technology topics! Oxford Owl looks to be pretty amazing, minus the flash part. Here’s a great eBook collection to add to those resources mentioned above. Also, these books are PDF so they work great on iPads!

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