This year, in order to start working towards a flipped classroom, we started using Edmodo to post in class assignments and homework assignments, as well as videos and Power Points that students could view at home. Throughout the year, I also had my students respond to questions that I posted on Edmodo in reponse to a lesson, video, or Power Point that they had seen. I used it as a quick formative assessment.
Towards the end of the year, after we finished reading our third read aloud as a class, I was toying around with the idea of using Edmodo to house a book discussion. I had not decided on a topic and was considering making it an extra, out of class thing that the kiddos did.
The idea continued to evolve, and the brilliance of this whole occurrence was that the topic of the book discussion actually came from one of my students! : ) We would compare and contrast the themes of our three books as a culminating activity of the year.
I was telling my students about the assignment and I started to post it in front of them. When I was finished posting and we started to discuss a little bit, my students just started posting responses on their own! So, in this moment, I scrapped my lesson for the day and went with the kids. I put on some music and let them have an online book discussion right there in the classroom, each student on his or her own device, and I on my teacher computer at the ActivBoard, monitoring and taking part in the discussion!
This was amazing to me for many reasons:
1. The prompt came from the mind of a student.
2. The student's became so excited about it, that they could not wait to get home and do the assignment, but they started on their own right in class.
3. It gave ALL of my students a voice in the discussion.
4. I could see thinking that most of them would not have normally shared in class.
I am a bilingual teacher, so many of my students are reluctant to participate in discussions. This gave them the opportunity to have time to think about their comments and feel comfortable posting them. Also, I had a girl who was a selective mute in my class and without this technology, she NEVER got the chance to communicate with the rest of the class. In this way, she was able to have a voice!
One more unbelievable occurrence, was that when I sat back and observed my students as this "digital talk" was happening, I began to see little discussion circles starting to develop. The technology use was bringing out REAL discussion between the students. They would check with someone sitting next to them about their comment before they posted it to make sure everything sounded right. They would tell each other that they agreed or did not disagree with an idea! They were taking responsibility and ownership of their thoughts and comments!
It was absolutely wonderful in that moment and once again, I was so impressed with (and surprised by) my 5th graders!
I could see that they actually did learn something this year: to think deeply about a literary text and to respectfully discuss with others.
Our conversation is below...