Side track here--I'm usiing Moodle for 4-6th grade online book discussions--easy to set up and easy to facilitate. I've written two online courses using Blackboard. Using Moodle/Blackboard for online courses is a TON of work. I'm looking for some good examples of Moodle usage for elementary kids, have you seen any? I've got one or two other writing activity ideas but what else is there?
I'm not a certified elementary teacher, so take my reply with a grain (or two) of salt. The best examples I've seen are teachers that use it with their elementary students to connect home-life with school-life (by communicating with and engaging parents using Moodle, providing activities and updates as to what is going on in class, extending a lesson into "homework" that can be completed using Moodle, etc.).
It does seem to work better for older students, but younger students are just as native to digital technology, if not more so, than their older peers. I also think it can be a great starting point for students, if you ever incorporate webquests into lessons using Moodle as the anchor/starting site is one way to ensure that students will have access to the same resource if they want to go back later. All of these activities depend on internet access for students at home and school (do most students have internet/computers at home, does your classroom/school have 1:1 computing or accessible computer labs?).
I'm curious, what are the activities you already use? I'd love to keep the conversation going.
Right now we are doing two online book discussions, with mixed results. I spend so much of my time editing and correcting their writing that we can't get a back and forth discussion going. We also blog and that's been better for back and forth dialogue. I've done other book discussions using Blackboard so I was aware of the limitations. Mostly we do them because it is something different from what they do in the regular classroom and it has given us permission to read some great books!. By the time we finish there will be 4000 responses, and that is a lot of writing and thinking. You can take a peek using baguest as username and password. http://www.smsdonline.org/course/view.php?id=106
So far that's all I've done for my gifted elementary students online. I've got several other ideas--Art Reflections where I post artwork or photograph and they write a reflection, and I aslo teach a unit on Philosophy. I might post some essential questions and have them reflect.
Awesome Moodle site. Looks like it's really taking off in your district. The book discussions are great too (4000 responses!!!). I'm looking at offering facilitated book discussions using Moodle on our free sites as well...using Wowio (which provides free digital books). Not sure how it will do in the general public (but I get excited about free learning).
One thing you might want to try out w/ the discussions: changing the course format to "Social" might be an easier way to manage the book discussions. A lot of districts I've worked with introduce Moodle to their teachers using a social format for professional development. It's pretty neat to see it in action.
As for some other activities to do with younger students. I really like the art critique activity you suggest above, a neat way to incorporate that into Moodle would be using the Glossary, each piece of [digital] art could be added as a glossary entry and students could comment on those (or they could each find some art on the internet and add their own to be critiqued).
As opposed to topic or weekly format (which structure your course into segments or topic areas) switching a course to the social format will give you the ability to create a string of forums all on the main page of your course (they will be visible as soon as students access the class). You can create as many threads as you need (just as you already did in the book discussion class example you gave me), and you can also add and edit blocks. It's limited because you can't add assignments or resources (but you can always add html or other blocks to pull in more information).
To change to social format just make a new course, go to Settings--> and change the format to "social".
I'd be happy to provide a flash video or other explanation (I've been making quite a few for our sites to help teachers get up and running).
Actually Nancy, I misspoke about the Social Format not supporting activities and assignments. If you are editing a Moodle course set up in the social format, add the "Social Activities" block and you will be able to add any of the resources or activities generally available in Moodle. The Social Activities block is not available in other formats.
Also, not to sell it too highly, there are several drawbacks to the social format, the first is that anyone can contribute new threads to the forum (this may not be appropriate for a book discussion that you want structured), the second is that forum threads are posted from the oldest (at the bottom) to the most recent (located at the top). So all in all the social format is probably best for a free-wheeling discussion, not a structured one.
I'm learning more everyday. Sorry for any confusion.
I actually studied four or five options for the book discussion. We discussed it ad naseum in a different forum several months ago. Bottom line--the only way this works is in a threaded discussion so each post can be replied to individually.
I'll continue to think about other Moodle applications but my curriculum is most important. I try not to let the technology drive what I want the kids to study or learn, it's the other way around. A little FYI to those out there who want to try the online book discussions. It is a hell of a lot of work, I probably spend 10 hours a week reading and responding. You would never spend that kind of time on one book in a traditional format. Keep thinking and send me any more good ideas.
Hi, we are using moodle, primarily as a course information platform for our high school students. We post online info. such as course information , as well students upload tests and assignments as well as workshop essays.
For communication we use gaggle, an email, chat, message board and digital locker comm. system that really fits the bill for our students, staff and especially security. Give it a look.
No, it hasn't taken off in the district. Things are going slow and I think I'm the only elementary teacher using it now. (our district has 30,000 kids!) The book discussions are for 4-6th grade gifted kiddos in our program and a group of 4th graders from the regular classroom so we have a total of almost 60 kids. Too many to respond to!! Let me know if you run into any other good Moodle ideas.