All posts by Olivia Wexelstein

Edmodo – Could this be the new Glow?


Those of you who know me or have followed my work will know that I have always been a strong advocator of Glow and have used it extensively to help embed ICT throughout learning in my classroom.  So it is with great surprise that I find myself writing this post.

A few weeks ago I discovered the video below about Eportfolio’s on YouTube.  I posted the link on twitter stating that I wished there was something out there like this.

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Last week I suddenly realised that a website that did this did exist and that I had created an account about a month ago.  This website was Edmodo, as usual someone on twitter had recommended it’s use, I had created an account but then hadn’t had time to look at it properly.

My class have been using Glow for a year and half and although they initially loved it and were using it all the time both at home and at school, I found that they were using it less and less at home.  They were also finding it quite time consuming to find the resources I wanted them to use.  I therefore decided that I wanted to use something that would help reengage my learners and would be easy and fun to use.

So how do you get started on Edmodo?  Well first you need to create a teacher’s account which is simple and easy to do.  Then you need to send home a letter of permission and a copy of the privacy policy as the company terms and conditions require that parental consent is received before allowing children to use it.  This may seem time consuming but because my pupils were so keen to start using the site they all returned their slips very quickly.  Once this is done you can then create a class group and a code is generated which you give to the pupils to enter when they sign up.

Why do my class really like it?  Well for a start it strongly resembles facebook and allows them to easily posts comments to the class group which they can all respond to.  The children are therefore able to start their own conversations rather than having to wait until I create a discussion webpart (which I would have had to do in glow).  The children can also send me direct messages which other children cannot see.  For me this is a great benefit as our pupils do not have access to Glow mail and so have only been able to ask me questions in a public forum which some are very reluctant to do.

I have spent hours creating learning spaces within Glow.  Each time I created an area for a new curricular area or sub-topic I had to create a new web-part for each weblink part or document store which is very time consuming and fiddly.   Every user in Edomdo has a library where you can create folders that store both web links and documents together.  These are extremely easy to create and also automatically generate a thumbnail, name and description which save lots of valuable time.


Once these folders are created you can then share them with the class group/s as required.  When the pupils click on these folders the weblinks and files are all displayed with their thumbnails and descriptions which makes it much easier for the pupils to find the resource you’ve asked them to use.  The pupils are also able to click a button called play view which then displays one website with the others as a thumbnail at the bottom of the screen.  This allows the children to quickly flick through the websites to find the one they want to use.

About a year ago I received training on how to use Glow learn, unfortunately when I attempted to use it with my class they found it extremely complicated and difficult to use.  Edmodo has the ability to set either whole class or individual assignments which are extremely easy to create, add weblinks or any file type.  You can also easily create polls, quizzes and award pupils badges, a feature that my pupils expressed a wish for during the #EduScotICT discussions. 

What makes it so easy is that everything is in the one place and it is very simple to set up.  It’s taken me a fraction of the time to set up a class group and put in the same resources that I had in my class glow group.  We’ve only been using it a week but already my pupils have been extremely responsive, finding it much easier and quicker to get to the resources they need. 

We won’t be abandoning Glow as there is still a lot of content we use eg Glow TV and Glow Blogs but wouldn’t be great if I could they could be integrated.  Dear Santa ………..

Facebook – How can we keep our pupils safe?

This morning I decided that I would check what information was available for everyone to view on the Facebook profiles of the pupils in my class.  I did it back in February when we had a Safer Internet Day and a lot of them reset their privacy settings and changed their profile pictures so they couldn’t be identified.  Unfortunately when I checked this morning only 2 out of the 12 who have facebook accounts still had this.  I therefore decided to look on the CEOP run thinkuknow website to see if they had any resources I could use that would demonstrate the dangers of sharing too much personal information online.   If you haven’t already, it is really worthwhile registering with the site so that you can download the resources.  They have resources available for all ages and the one I decided to use was the film Jigsaw for Key Stage 2.  At the beginning the film shows the main character posting the same kinds of information that a lot of children post online without thinking about it, in the real world.  The children are then shown the dangers that this can pose and who they can ask for help.  The film had a real impact with all of the children in my class as they realised with shock just how much of this information they themselves had allowed to become public.  As a result they are all now resetting their privacy settings and changing their profile pictures. Objective achieved.

Glow Basics

Caroline Breyley and I have been asked to host a Glow Meet for CPD Stepin on an Introduction to Glow.  CPD Stepin is a support group for supply teachers which offers them access to CPD, help and advice.  Caroline and I decided that the best way to introduce new users to Glow was to let them know about all the amazing resources they could access through it.  I have created a presentation of Screen shots which demonstrates a large number these resources.

This has actually been a very valuable activity for me to do as it has reminded me just what is there and helped me discover some new resources.  This presentation is also going to help me as I am visiting the first ever school I taught in next week to tell them all about Glow, plus I have arranged a series of ICTworkshops for the staff in my cluster group the first of which is Glow Basics.

You can view my presentation below please feel free to download and share.

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Outdoor Learning – Seasons Training

This year to help support the outdoor learning I do with my pupils I’ve signed up to do Season training with Fife’s Ranger Service. This involves attending 4 sessions throughout the year with a focus on tree and plant identification.

The Autumn session was held a couple of weeks ago at Loch Ore Meadows. When we arrived Karen the ranger had 3 kelly kettles on the go and we all had tea or coffee, nothing quite beats drinking coffee outside.

Karen then took us on a treck through the woods where she helped us identify different woodland areas. For example in mixed woodland there is a lot of undergrowth and a wide variety of plant life but in a beech wood the tree canopy blocks out most of the light so there is very little undergrowth.  As well as helping us identifying which tree was which by their leaves, Karen also gave us other really interesting information about each tree.  Did you know that the base of the trunk on a beech tree looks like an elephant foot or that you can make whistles from elder trees?

Through out the session Karen gave us copies of sheets she had printed from the nature detectives which is site run by the Woodland Trust.  I’ve used some of their resources with my class before and I can highly recommend them if your outdoor learning focus is all about discover about nature.  They have resources that are suitable for all ages, one of my favourite for early years is their Welly walk.  A lot of the resources are editable which means you can adapt them so the children are only looking for things that are available in your area.

We spotted several different types of mushrooms when we were out but my favourite was this purple one below (you can tell by the colours in this blog why that is).

I really enjoyed this session and came away with a lot more knowledge about tree identification than I could have read in a book, I am looking forward to sharing this with my class.  Next session is in January hopefully any snow will have gone by then.

Technologies I used in Term 1 2011

This term we have been doing a project on endangered animals. As always we had a brain storming session to find our prior knowledge. The children carried this out in groups of 4 with large sheets of paper and marker pens. Each group then shared their knowledge with the rest of the class and we made a collaborative mind map using popplet. Popplet is a web app that can help you to create an online mindmap that you can then embed in your glow group or glow blog.

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One of the first key questions that the children wanted answered was why are animals endangered? They started by carrying out research using the Internet and project books, taking notes as they were doing so. They then had to write a script and create a Go Animate that would demonstrate the information they had discovered. This activity was a big success as all the pupils were extremely engaged at all times and had great fun creating their cartoons.

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I’ve also been using Animoto a lot for our class blog. Animoto is a great web tool that you use to make really creative short movies of photographs and video you have taken.  It’s really simple and easy to use because all you have to do is upload your files, choose your music then it does everything else for you. It’s a great way to record trips, events, active and outdoor learning.

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This week I was fortunate enough to be asked to attend and present at the ICT Summit held at the Stirling Management Centre. The summit was held to discuss the 5 objectives set by Michael Russell, MSP when he made the announcement about the future of glow.

The 5 objectives were

1) To change the culture of the use of ICT

 2) To improve confidence in the use of ICT for learners, teachers, school leaders and parents

 3) To promote new behaviours for teaching 

4) To deepen parental engagement

 5) To strengthen position on hardware and associated infrastructure

 Richard Nealsson gives a very good overview of the whole event in his blog post.

 I was asked to present on the 3rd Objective – To promote new behaviours for teaching.  Below is the transcript of my presentation and the full length version of the video I showed.

Using new technologies to demonstrate / reflect on learning

We have been using Glow for just over a year.  It has totally transformed teaching and learning in my classroom.  It has enabled me to embed ICT throughout all areas of the curriculum and is not seen as a separate add on subject.

Now when planning work instead of thinking, what piece of written work or worksheet can I use to evidence children’s learning and understanding, I think what piece of technology or web tool can I use.

 Glow has given us the space to house all our digital evidence as most of the tools we use can be embedded either into a glow group or a glow blog.  Over the past year we have been developing our use of glow blogs.

Each pupil has their own individual eportfolio which can be used as a learning journal.  In these eportfolios they can embed videos, slideshows and other web tools as evidence of their learning.  They can also use it as a place to reflect on their learning and share wider achievements.

 This year we have also started a class blog in order to share our learning with parents and other schools.  So far we have had over 300 visits to our site and comments from as far away as Florida.  The pupils are highly motivated by these comments.  You can visit our blog by googling Wellwood Primary Blog.

 These (see photo below) are just a few of the web tools we have used this year.  For example we created vokis, which are animated avatars, to record our burns poems.  We used I can animate to create digital still animations for our Myths and Legends topic.

The level of writing within the class is still high as although the final outcome of these activities is a digital one, often they require researching or script writing.  There are still a very large percentage of teaching staff who don’t realise all these resources are available and often free to use.  Levels of pupil engagement and their ability to work cooperatively have greatly improved.

We’ve achieved a lot in a year but we only have a ratio of 2 pupils to 1 computer, imagine what we could achieve with 1:1.

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My first official blog post.


Well I’ve finally taken the plunge and created my own blog.  I’ve been wanting to start one for a while but was never sure if I’d have that much to say.  However, I’ve decided that creating a blog is now a necessity as there is so much digital content about me on other blogs and websites that I needed a place to house all the links.  In a way I’m going to use this blog like the eportfolio’s that I already get my pupil’s to use.  Hopefully this will be a very valuable way to record all my CPD (which those of you who know me is constantly on-going) and make it easier to share with future employers.

Please click on the links at the side to see some of the things I’ve been involved in so far.