One of the sites I follow (or one of the blogs--I can't remember) mentioned a website called Edmodo and described it as a social networking site for teachers and students. Here's one that mentions it. It sounded intriguing, so I decided to check it out. I am very glad that I did.
Here's an Edmodo demo video that shows you what it's all about:
I used it for two days in our school's computer lab to review two summer reading books for my two tenth lit/comp pre-AP classes. Students had the choice of reading either Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle or Anderson's Feed. I decided to let students respond to discussion questions that I posted as notes. On some of the notes, I gave students the choice of three questions and on others, they had to respond to all given discussion questions--parts of a book versus the book as a whole. Students were encouraged to read others' postings and to edit their own.
Feedback from students: Overall, they greatly enjoyed being able to type their answers rather than having to write them out by hand. They enjoyed creating avatars for themselves. They also enjoyed the social aspect of it as well. They also liked that I can send them alerts about assignments straight to their phones or e-mails.
Some wishes from me: I wish that I had a way to reply to their replies other than creating a reply to the note itself. I wanted to be able to tell them that they weren't on the right track or if they had a good answer. I was able to do both of those things by sending students individual notes, but I feel it would have been faster to reply right there rather having to scroll back to the top of the messages. Their replies soon became cumbersome to navigate, though the page did hide them from view when they became numerous.
I haven't played with the assignments option, but since my students are really intersted, I plan on trying to figure out more ways to use this site in my class. Two girls even asked me why other teachers weren't using the site. My reply of course was to say that other teachers just weren't as cool as me. Ha, ha!