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Technology: The Impact of an Educational Social Network (edmodo) on an Eleventh Grade English Classroom. Toni A. Penwell EDU 306 Teaching Reading – Adolescents April 21, 2011.

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Technology: The Impact of an Educational Social Network (edmodo) on an Eleventh Grade English Classroom

Toni A. Penwell

EDU 306

Teaching Reading – Adolescents

April 21, 2011


This project introduces the idea of incorporating current digital technology into writing instruction as a means to improve reading comprehension and expand critical thinking skills.


“Writing for the Instant Messaging and Text Messaging Generation: Using New Literacies to Support Writing Instruction”Sheelah M. Sweeney (2010)

  • Educators must utilize the skills that students possess for interacting with media and transform them into skills that the student can apply in the school setting.
  • Technology is a unique opportunity for teachers to utilize this skill set in ways that improve reading comprehension.
  • There are numerous applications of digital technology that can be used as a method to enhance writing and in turn comprehension.

“Summer Program Helps Adolescents Merge Technology, Popular Culture, Reading, and Writing for Academic Purposes”Salika A. Lawrence, Kelly McNeal, Melda N. Yildiz (2009)

  • The ideal setting for technology instruction is the computer lab so that students receive instruction and utilize guided and independent practice of skills.
  • Technology allows students to make connections between the social and academic world.
  • A list of some specific assignments utilizing technology might include: socially significant research topics, practice in summarizing and interpreting information, and utilizing informational texts and visual aids in a presentation.
writing for comprehension randy wallace cathy pearman cindy hail and beth hurst 2007
“Writing for Comprehension”Randy Wallace, Cathy Pearman, Cindy Hail, and Beth Hurst (2007)
  • Interpretation of text is solidified through student writing and results in heightened student comprehension.
  • Comprehension is increased by integrating reading, writing and social interaction.
  • Student response to text is a tool for comprehension assessment.
research questions
Research Questions
  • Can the use of technology spark interest and enthusiasm for discussion of literary texts?
  • Would the incorporation of an online discussion forum, like Edmodo, impact or improve the notion of the learning community?
  • Will the use of an online discussion forum facilitate more student discussion of literature as compared to in-class discussion?
class profile environment
Class Profile/Environment
  • Eleventh Grade English at a mid-sized, rural high school.
  • 21 students – 14 males, 7 females
  • Demographic information:
    • 1 African American
    • 1 Latino
    • 19 White
    • 8 of the 21 were considered economically disadvantaged
    • 5 were students with exceptionalities (IEP or 504)
    • 2 were learning disabled
    • 3 emotionally or behaviorally disabled
    • 1 pregnant female
    • 2 have children
    • 1 male under house arrest with ankle monitoring device
data gathering procedures
Data Gathering Procedures
  • Technology survey administered – 14 of 16 who took survey had Internet access outside the classroom and all had accessed Facebook.
  • (mimics Facebook) chosen for research and Computer Lab time was scheduled for the classroom once a week for 4 weeks.
  • Assignments were posted on the site with due dates. Students received points for completion of assignments and extra points for additional responses to classmates’ posts.
  • The first two sessions in the Computer Lab were monitored so that assistance could be given.
  • The last two sessions I was in Watson Library on Campus responding to the students in real time.
analysis results
  • Once the students were familiar with edmodo, answers became more substantial, but number of responses decreased.
  • The quality of the responses improved from week to week.
  • Response to me were more formal, responses to classmates were informal.
  • Responses in the private forum as compared to the public forum on the site were more serious and focused.
  • The students did not visit the website outside of the classroom with the exception of one student, one time.
  • One student who was consistently unresponsive (sleeping) in the classroom was engaged and responsive in the Computer Lab while working on edmodo.
analysis results continued
Analysis/Results (continued)
  • When asked “What specifically did you enjoy about working on” 15 of the 16 who participated had positive responses.
  • When asked “What specifically did you dislike about working on” 10 of the 16 who participated had a dislike.
  • All of those responders who expressed a dislike also expressed a positive as well.
  • In general, some of the students preferred working in private with responses only viewed by me and some of the students enjoyed being able to read others responses and post comments in a public forum.
  • Students were asked to rate the experience with edmodo with 1 = Strongly Dislike and 5 = Strongly Like. The average rating was 3.2 which was just above the 3 = Take it or leave it rating.
  • has many potential uses.
  • The site is flexible – private and public forums for discussion.
  • The site has capability for immediate assessment with ‘Poll’ feature which can assess comprehension immediately.
  • This website and others like it provide the type of differentiated instruction that engages students who are not engaged in the typical classroom activities.
  • It is difficult to ask students to participate in technology outside of the classroom because many are economically disadvantaged and do not have computer access outside of school.
  • This technology enriches the learning community because it provides students with one more opportunity to make connections to the world outside of the classroom.
  • Students can use the digital media skills they possess to enhance the quality and quantity of writing and in turn comprehension.

I believe this technology could be beneficial to any classroom. Not only does it provide students with differentiated instruction, but it allows them to use the digital skills that they already possess. It would be interesting to do further research on the website as both a way to do classroom reading and subsequent assignments and as an online discussion forum. It would be interesting to see how the learning community would develop if the students began the year using the technology and continued it’s use throughout the year.


Coiro, J. (2005). Making sense of online text. Educational Leadership, 63(2), 30-35.

Frager, A.M., Frye, E.A. (2010, October). Focus on the essentials of reading instruction.

Kappan Magazine, 56-58.

Lawrence, S.A., McNeal, K., Yildiz, M.N. (2009). Summer program helps adolescents merge technology, popular culture, reading, and writing for academic purposes. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 52(6), 483-494.

Onofrey, K.A., Theurer, J.L. (2007, April). What’s a teacher to do: suggestions for

comprehension strategy instruction. The Reading Teacher, 681-684.

Sweeney, S.M. (2010). Writing for the instant messaging and text messaging generation:

using new literacies to support writing instruction. Journal of Adolescent & Adult

Literacy, 54(2), 121-130.

Wallace, R., Pearman, C., Hail, C., Hurst, B. (2007). Writing for comprehension. Reading

Horizons, 48(1), 41-56.