I have not started using duolingo for schools. Would this be an appropriate program for 3rd grade?
I think that might depend a bit on your clientele. I will have a grade 4/5 class this year (9 and 10 year olds) and I'll need to teach basic core French. I'd love to use Duolingo with them - I think it's an excellent tool, but I have some concerns with the vocabulary. While I've been learning, I've come across sentences such as "The man drinks too much beer", "That waitress is completely nude", "I am completely useless" and "I die now". I know, I know - in objective terms these are fairly innocuous phrases and I'd have no hesitation using Duolingo with high school students - they'd probably be amused by these phrases ... I know I was.
However, as you've probably experienced, things are a bit different when you're teaching young children. At grade three, it is not safe to assume that all of your students have reached a stage of cognitive development where they can fully distinguish between fiction and reality. So...back to your clientele. You know your students and their parents. Are you going to get called into your administrator's office when little Suzy tells her mommy that the computer told her that she's useless and she's learning about naked waitresses and men who drink too much wine?
These, of course, are examples from Duolingo's French from English tree. If you're teaching some other language, the vocabulary may be less (or more) problematic. Either way, if you're thinking of using Duolingo with students as young as grade three, I'd recommend passing all potentially problematic phrases past your administrator (and maybe your students' parents as well) before you start. Depending on where you live and the demographic of your students, you may have no problems at all. Then again, you might. For me, it's not a possibility. There's no chance that I could get this past my administrator. Sigh.
If you do end up using this, I'd very much like to hear how it goes and how it is received by parents and administration.
In my opinion, yes. However; the discussion and/or immersion sections of Duolingo may not be appropriate for 3rd graders, but the rest o Duolingo should be just fine. I would try to simply 'outlaw' or not allow using these parts of Duolingo, maybe at home, just not at school. -Charis