If you’ve never used Moodle before, Moodle is a LMS (Learning Management System) similar to Blackboard or Edmodo. Moodle however is an open source platform that can be run and customized by any individual on their personal website. Moodle is great because it is extremely customizable allowing for a variety of different activity types, assignment layouts, and assessment methods.
Last winter I used Moodle for my first time in a 4th grade class that I taught. I used Moodle in my guided reading group to better facilitate student learning through a variety of interactive online activities revolving around the book. We read the book Little House in the Big Woods and rather than their traditional journal activities, students would login to the class website and complete different assignments. Students were often given one daily assignment and then with any extra time they had they could fill out our class wiki page about the book or they could add terms to our glossary, providing for authentic means of vocabulary building.
We had a few different literature circles running in the class simultaneously, which were maintained as separate groups on the website. Students were enrolled in a group with only students reading the same book (Little House in the Big Woods or Shiloh) and they can access their group via the front page. From their literature circle group page they could access that day’s assignments, which were generally short writing assignments that we would then use as a launch for that day’s literature group discussion.
During our reading of Little House in the Big Woods, my students realized there were a lot of terms that they did not understand. Earlier on they had been assigned a list of words to define, but I felt that it would be far more beneficial if the students found words they didn’t know and defined those words themselves either through Google searches or context clues.
Along with the glossary, another activity my students worked on was the class wiki page. The wiki was all relevant to Little House in the Big Woods and included pages about the characters, the setting, and the plot.
Occasionally we used the chat feature in Moodle to have silent discussions in our literature circles while other students in the classroom studied. Students loved the ability to communicate with their peers using digital tools and it helped them quickly improve their typing WPM because they needed to type to stay engaged in the conversation. It also works as a great classroom management tool for keeping classroom volume down while other students are concentrating on their reading.
I used Moodle again for a K-1 combination class I taught this past fall in order to help students practice reading, writing, and spelling through authentic means. With younger students it is more difficult, especially Kindergartners who often start their first year with little to no reading abilities and possibly even lack of letter recognition. However, my first graders were able to quickly form habits of logging into their computers and then onto their website to communicate with one another. Obviously every class is different, but the high customizability of Moodle allows you to create more age appropriate assignments for any grade.