For those of you who haven’t taken a foray into Edmodo yet you might want to check it out. It’s basically a modified Facebook for classroom use. The teacher has a great deal of control and can establish various groups within a class. I started using it back in the fall when we did our non-fiction feature articles. Instead of taking polls and interviewing, students were able to get quotes for their articles through Edmodo.
Recently I’ve started using it as an alternative form of discussion. For example, today I posted three general questions in response to our recent Time for Kids Magazine and then had students respond to them as well as to each other. I focused my questions on three main ideas. 1) Having students demonstrate use of our current reading strategy and reflect on it. 2) Comparing an article on the Civil War with our recent study of the American Revolution. 3) Making inferences based on a map. I wanted to make sure that my questions were open-ended, directly related to concepts we had been working on in class, and engaging higher order thinking skills. This way the responses would be varied and students would be able to build on each others ideas over the course of the discussion.
Overall, I though that the quality of their comments was excellent. Because many of them read their classmate’s thinking before typing their own response students were forced to push themselves to give a more detailed answer so that they wouldn’t repeat what someone else had already said. I also found that some of my students who are working on expressing themselves in writing were able to participate more than they had in the past, because they had examples to work from.
What pleased me was that several students took it upon themselves to post some quick links to sites in response to peer questions and discussion. I love that some of them are learning that they can research their questions on their own and share that information with classmates. I see some real potential is using Edmodo for our beyond-the-book inquiries.