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It is a Sunday afternoon and as I regularly do I have just checked into my Edmodo literacy group to view some of my students weekly homework. As I do so, I want to spontaneously give a little happy dance. This weekend the discussions on our novel The city of Ember have exploded. Students are asking and answering each others rich and interesting questions. Not because I have told them too and not because it is all homework but because it is fun.

I have written many times before about the ways I use Edmodo in literacy groups. About how I love the way Edmodo gives a voice to the quiet students, allows differentiation through sub-groupings and is especially appealing to my pre Facebook age 11 and 12 students.

But how is this fun? After all it involves extra reading and writing? I believe my students are engaged in these discussions for two reasons. Firstly because I have created three extra students in our group. Lina Mayfleet, Poppy Mayfleet and Doon Harrow. Are these students of 6MW? No, they are characters from The City of Ember. I now have students lining up to play these roles. Choosing to spend their own time setting and responding to questions while playing a character from the novel, does I am sure, allow them to deeply think about these characters actions and motives.

The second reason I think that my students are so engaged in this forum is due to the ‘Word, Phrase, Sentence’ thinking routine we have been using during our reading. I am asking students to find a word, a phrase and a sentence that resonates with them in each section. They then have to justify their thinking and choices which has enabled them to make deep and rich connections with the text.

As they document their ideas, their thoughts as well as the actual novel characters thoughts and actions in Edmodo, I can see that the quiet ones are getting a voice. Those that need help are assisted by reading their peers ideas and that they are all reading and responding in deep and meaningful ways. A win win situation all round.

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